Review: FIAT Panda (2012)

Rating:

New Panda has a softer shape and less boxy look. 1.2-litre or TwinAir engines. More upmarket interior. Good headroom. Softer suspension than previous Panda.

Not as cheap as you would expect. Rear seat does not double fold and leave a flat floor. Zero points in 2018 Euro NCAP crash test.

Recently Added To This Review

10 April 2019

Report of 6 years and 60,000 miles total reliability and enjoyment from a 2013 FIAT Panda TwinAir Read more

24 August 2018 R/2018/208:

FIAT Panda: ENGINE SUSPENSION REACTION BRACKET NOT FITTED ON THE TRANSMISSION SIDE: Some vehicles were assembled without the engine suspension reaction bracket fitted on the transmission side. The... Read more

8 July 2018

MUST use correct Fiat specified Selenia oil in the TwinAir or will lead to problems. Read more

FIAT Panda (2012): At A Glance

This new Panda is amazingly just the third generation of the Panda since the original was launched in 1980. These things take time apparently. The new incarnation of Fiat's practical but fun small car gets a softer look but it's still unmistakably a Panda with that familiar profile and near vertical rear end.

It's much improved inside with a far higher quality throughout and a neater design too. The plastics are less scratchy than before and nicer to touch while the overall finish has more attention to detail.

Two-tone interior clours brighten things up while elements like the stereo, ventilation controls and instrument dials are now more upmarket. Fiat has introduced a new design theme - the 'squircle' which runs throughout, including the steering wheel.

Initially the Panda was available with two variants of the 0.9-litre TwinAir engine – a naturally aspirated 65PS version and a turbocharged model with 85PS. There is also a 1.2-litre petrol, and a 75PS 1.3-litre diesel. Easy to drive with good all round visibility, the Panda is ideal for an urban environment while decent high speed stability means it's happy on the motorway too. Only a bouncy ride lets it down.

As ever the Panda is spacious, practical and family friendly. There's a larger boot with a wider tailgate plus more space for those sitting in the back, both in terms of width and legroom. It can even be specified with a sliding rear seat bench which increases boot space should you need more.

Prices start at around £9k which is affordable but there is plenty of competition out there at this price, most notably from the latest Hyundai i10 plus the Volkswagen Up, Skoda Citigo and SEAT Mii trio.

Fiat Panda 2012 Road Test

Fiat Panda Cross 2014 Road Test

What does a FIAT Panda (2012) cost?

List Price from £10,080
Buy new from £7,620
Contract hire from £122.45 per month

FIAT Panda (2012): What's It Like Inside?

Dimensions
Length 3653–3686 mm
Width 1882 mm
Height 1551–1605 mm
Wheelbase 2300 mm

Full specifications

The interior design and quality of the new Panda have both improved with a more upmarket feel from behind the wheel. The plastics throughout are now nicer to touch and it feels better finished too.

One of the design themes running through the new Panda is apparently called a 'squircle' which you'll see on everything from the steering wheel to the air conditioning controls and door handles.

One new feature we're not sure about is the odd handbrake which seems over complicated for a small car like this. But the stereo is much improved from before as are the instrument dials.

The driving position is good with a raised seat giving a good view out while the seats themselves are wider and have more adjustment, although disappointingly height adjustment on the driver's seat is an option rather than standard.

There's an abundance of storage for such a small car though with 14 stowage spaces including a really useful open dash area. The two-tone colour design inside really helps to lift the cabin too. There have been less obvious improvements too such as an upgraded heating system which means the Panda now defrosts much quicker in winter conditions.

There is also the optional Blue&Me 'infotainment' system which lets you link devices such as mobile phones and MP3 players to the car, either via Bluetooth or a USB port. It was developed in conjunction with Microsoft but don't panic if you own an iPod as it works with Apple products too.

This new Panda is longer than before and a touch wider and taller. It's still a small car on the outside but it's now more spacious inside, most notably in the back where rear passengers will find there's more legroom (helped by slimmer front seats) and better shoulder room.

The boot is also better with a wider tailgate and lower lip, making it easier to haul heavy shopping bags into. There are two seats in the back although if you need to carry more people there's a middle seat, head restraint and seat belt package available as an option.

Brake assist, Isofix attachment points and anti-whiplash headrests are amongst the standard safety gear although ESP stability control is only an option and not standard even on the top Lounge model. 

Standard equipment from launch (February 2012):

Pop models get daytime running lights, 14-inch steel wheels, height adjustable steering wheel, power steering, electric front windows, central locking, Smart Fuel filler cap, folding rear seat backrest. ABS and EBD, driver and front passenger airbags, window airbags, tyre puncture repair kit, CD stereo with four speakers.

Easy models add roof rails, manual air conditioning, remote central locking, rear head restraints and a CD stereo with six-speakers.

Lounge is the top version and comes with body coloured mirrors and door handles, side mouldings, 15-inch alloy wheels, plus electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors.

Child seats that fit a FIAT Panda (2012)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the FIAT Panda (2012) like to drive?

Out on the road the first thing you'll notice about the Panda is how bouncy the ride is. This was also a charcteristic of the old model so although it adds to the get-up-and-go feel, it's not great on bumpy roads.

On the plus side, the body is more rigid which means the Panda handles better in corners and although the steering doesn't have much weight, it's responsive for quick changes of direction and nice and light for easy parking.

The Panda is pretty noisy on the motorway and you do end up having to raise your voice to be heard over a combination of road and wind noise, but it's stable at 70mph and doesn't feel out if its depth keeping up with faster flowing traffic.

There are three engines to choose from but most people will go for the straightforward 1.2-litre petrol. It's adequate enough with around 70PS and ideal for driving both in town and on the motorway. It can struggle for in-gear acceleration but at least economy is good with a claimed 54.3mpg. Quiet and smooth, it's the perfect engine for the Panda.

The model creating the most interest is the 0.9 TwinAir, an engine that was first fitted in the Fiat 500. It has just two cylinders (yes, two) but thanks to a turbocharger it develops 85PS. It has won plenty of awards but it's still a very odd engine to drive. It often feels like it's going to stall and so you end up often revving the socks off it when pulling out of junctions, just to be sure.

Its noisy too and far from smooth, which means that it doesn't make for a relaxing drive. Compare it to a three-cylinder engine like the one in the new Up and you'd choose the Volkswagen one everytime. The one area where the TwinAir does well is economy. It will average a claimed 67.3mpg with CO2 emissions of 99g/km. The third engine available is the 1.3 MulitJet which has 75PS and good of torque with 190Nm.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
0.9 TwinAir 67 mpg 11.2 s 99 g/km
0.9 TwinAir Dualogic 69 mpg 11.5 s 95 g/km
0.9 TwinAir Trekking 64 mpg 11.5 s 99 g/km
1.2 50–55 mpg 14.2 s 120 g/km
1.3 MultiJet 72 mpg 12.8 s 104 g/km
1.3 MultiJet Trekking 67–74 mpg 11.8–13.2 s 104–117 g/km

Real MPG average for a FIAT Panda (2012)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

83%

Real MPG

31–85 mpg

MPGs submitted

211

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the FIAT Panda (2012)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

My garage damaged my car and fixed it badly - are they liable to fix it properly?

My Fiat Panda went into the Fiat dealer for some warranty work. When I returned to pick it up, someone had scratched from the front drivers door all the way to the back wing. They admitted fault and took it in to be repaired. It was raining when collected today, but when I asked for proof of the repair they say they don't supply any. On the way home I stopped at a garage and had a look at the repairs. The doors have been repaired and re-lacquered and are very hazy, debris under the paint, lots of swirls and marring that won't polish out (I have a feeling it's under the first clearcoat layer), pinholes in the lacquer and orange peel along the bottom of the doors. The rear quarter has not been painted but has been polished but the remnants of the scratch are still visible, even though the service manager claims there's nothing there, which both me and my partner can still see. The car was immaculate when it went in, not a scratch or swirl anywhere so I'm a gutted. The service manager seems very dismissive and says it's "good enough" because the colour masks the imperfections (white). What would you suggest I do?
Tell him that he damaged your property and if he doesn't fix it properly you will take it elsewhere and get it fixed properly then sue him in Small Claims for the full cost. Best to put this in writing and send by post office special delivery so it becomes a matter of record. Keep a copy of your letter and staple the certificate of posting to it. Take a lot of photos of the badly repaired damage.
Answered by Honest John
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