Fiat Panda 4x4 (2012) Review
Fiat Panda 4x4 (2012) At A Glance
Insurance Groups are between 7–11
On average it achieves 82% of the official MPG figure
The Fiat Panda 4x4 has become a cult, a legend and a workhorse, and the third-generation model launched in 2012 brought some welcome comfort to the mix as well. With a choice of punchy petrol and diesel engines, and a special low-ration first gear, it will pick its way over the countryside as easily as it does through town. It’s also affordable to buy and run as a funky second car.
Fiat knows when it’s on to a good thing and the Panda 4x4 is just that. It may not be a huge seller, but it’s a crucial part of the Panda line-up and has a history going back four decades. This makes it a key pillar of the Panda range and one that many of its owners couldn’t contemplate being without.
How does a tiny 4x4 based on a model that straddles the city car and supermini classes endear itself to so many? Part of it is down the looks, which are more ‘aah’ than a video of puppies on social media, and a certain lingering attraction from models gone by.
The majority of its lure, though, lies in the downright brilliant ability of the Panda 4x4 to cope with terrain that would leave most SUVs and larger 4x4s wondering which way the Fiat had disappeared to.
Small is always handy for off-road work as it means the Panda 4x4 can snaffle through gaps others cannot. It also ensures the Panda is relatively light, so it doesn’t need the massive tyres or engines of many 4x4s to scamper across rough ground. Instead, it treads gently and makes good progress in an unfazed manner like a Sherpa ascending Everest.
When the current Panda 4x4 was launched in 2012 as a companion to the third generation of the model, it arrived just as the world was embracing crossovers and SUVs with glee. The timing was ideal and the 4x4 has never looked back. Instead, it has gone on to add the Cross version, which isn’t a model that’s a little bit angry but has more dirt-busting kit to make it an even more capable off-roader.
The 4x4 comes in a single, high spec trim level to cement its position as the range-topper in the Panda range. Opt for the Cross and you get the same levels of kit but with an extra low first gear to help when tricking over rough terrain. It also has Terrain Control to give three settings for rough road driving that includes Descent Control to keep things in check when heading down slippery slopes.
The Cross is also easily identified by its even chunkier body styling that brings a front skid plate that actually works rather than being for show. There are also scratch-resistant plastic panels on the outer bodywork, different headlights and even permanently attached tow hooks to show this is a proper mud basher.
Whichever Panda 4x4 you prefer, there’s a choice of 0.9-litre TwinAir petrol engine or the 1.3-litre MultiJet turbodiesel.
The two-cylinder TwinAir motor is packed with character thanks to its strong low-down power delivery and offbeat engine note. However, it rarely gets close to its claimed fuel economy figures, so the 1.3 turbodiesel is the better bet for those wanting to extend mileage between fuel stops. However, the diesel is no longer available new so you will be looking at a used model for this motor.
Neither engine is especially quick in performance terms and the Panda 4x4 can feel a little high-sided when driving on normal roads. Yet it’s still good to use and its superb off-road ability counters its on-road foibles in a way only the old Land Rover Defender could ever match.