Review: FIAT Panda 4x4 (2012)

Rating:

Improvement in ride comfort. Outstandingly capable off road and in snow. Well equipped. Charming.

Disappointing Real MPG from TwinAir. Relatively expensive. Rear diffs still spring oil leaks.

Recently Added To This Review

5 March 2019

Report of badly corroded oil sump on 2015 FIAT Panda Cross (which engine not specified). Dealer quoted £600 and said corrosion has spread to catalytic converter. Read more

5 December 2018

Basic Panda scored zero points in enhanced 2018 Euro NCAP Crash Safety Test. Scored 45% Adult Protection; 16% Child Occupant Protection; 47% Pedestrian Protection and 7% in Safety Assist. Read more

29 August 2018

Report that if a Panda 4x4 or Panda Cross is fitted with with 185/65 R15 88T tyres (M+S), it cannot be fitted with snow chains because there is insufficient clearance in the wheel arches. (In the Alps,... Read more

FIAT Panda 4x4 (2012): At A Glance

The Panda 4x4 is based on the Panda hatchback which was launched in early 2012. It continues a long tradition for small, capable Fiats 4x4s. This latest incarnation of the Panda 4x4 gets a torque on demand transmission system with two differentials which automatically alters the power between the front and rear wheels depending on the level of grip.

Like the previous Panda 4x4, the new model gets a chunkier look than the standard car with black body mouldings round the wheelarches, larger bumpers with underbody protectors at the front and back plus roof rails and unique 15-inch alloy wheels with 175/65 R15 M+S tyres.

Two engines are available and both get start/stop to save fuel. There's an 85PS 0.9 TwinAir Turbo and the 1.3 MultiJet II diesel with 75PS. The TwinAir Turbo has 40% more torque than the 1.2 Fire engine in the old Panda 4x4 which should mean better in-gear performance while the six-speed manual gearbox has a low-range first gear for helping with uphill starts. The downside to that TwinAir engine is that owners report that it can't live up to the claimed fuel economy figures in the real world.

The rear suspension is lighter than before to give better ride comfort and reduce noise while standard equipment includes stability control and an electronic locking differential known as ELD. Designed for slippery conditions such as ice and snow, this brakes the wheels with poor grip and transfers the drive to the wheels with more grip. It's manually switched on and works up to 30mph. Inside there's manual climate control, a CD stereo, electric door mirrors, central locking and rear head restraints.

If you like the 4x4 looks, but don't need the hardward, go for the Panda Trekking, which is offered on the standard hatchback. It's two-wheel drive, but much cheaper.

Fiat Panda Cross Road Test 2014

What does a FIAT Panda 4x4 (2012) cost?

List Price from £14,975
Buy new from £12,995
Contract hire from £170.24 per month

FIAT Panda 4x4 (2012): What's It Like Inside?

Dimensions
Length 3653–3705 mm
Width 1882 mm
Height 1605–1657 mm
Wheelbase 2300 mm

Full specifications

The Panda 4x4 benefits from the same upmarket look and feel as the standard Panda hatchback. The plastics are much better quality than before and from behind the wheel you get a sense that this is a much higher quality product than before. You also won't fail to miss the 'squircles'; these squared-off circles are the design theme that runs throughout the car, from the door handles and steering wheel to the pattern on th dash plastics.

Being a 'rough-and-tough' 4x4 version, you'd expect it to major on practicality and that's exactly the case with the Panda 4x4. With the seats up there's a load space of 225 litres, which can be increased to 260 litres by sliding the rear seats forward. Fold the seats down completely and there's a useful load area of 870 litres. Elsewhere inside the car you'll find a wide range of practical touches from cubby holes to bottle holders. The front passenger seat can even be folded flat to create a table. 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.

There's more room inside than before, as the Panda 4x4 is longer and slightly wider and taller. It's still not what you'd call 'big', but there is a noticeable improvement in interior space - especially for rear passengers. Those drivers who will be making the most of the Panda's capabilities in Winter will be pleased to hear that it now defrosts faster than ever.

The optional Blue&Me 'infotainment' system 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. 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. 

The only real question mark is with the handbrake, which is a bit odd and unnecessary. Most car makers opt for either a conventional handbrake or an electronic one. The Panda 4x4's, you grab it and pull. Seems to be different for the sake of being different and offers no real advantage to a standard set-up.

Child seats that fit a FIAT Panda 4x4 (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 4x4 (2012) like to drive?

The old Fiat Panda 4x4 was a bit of a slouch, but the arrival of some peppy new engines has turned that around for the latest car. It's still designed to offer reasonable off-road performance, which is why it's 47mm higher than the standard hatchback.

There's a choice of a 0.9-litre TwinAir Turbo petrol coupled to a six-speed manual gearbox or a 1.3-litre MultiJet diesel with a five-speed manual gearbox. The diesel now benefits from improved torque (190Nm from 145Nm) and the TwinAir petrol has 40 per cent much more pulling power than before too. That should mean it's a better performer when it comes to muddy, and uneven tracks.

Many buyers will opt for the instantly-recognisable two-cylinder TwinAir petrol. Performance is respectable for a car of this size, getting to 62pmh in 12.1 seconds and onto a top speed of 103mph and around town it can feel much faster. It also gets a low first gear that's designed to help with steep inclines.

The diesel's figures lag some way behind and that 0-62mph figure drops right down to 14.5 seconds; top speed is just 98mph.

Both cars are on the noisy side, but there's a certain charm to the sound that the two-cylinder petrol makes. Handling is as expected for a tall city car. It rolls through corners and has light steering, which is great for parking and tight manoeuvres, but can feel inaccurate at speed.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
0.9 TwinAir 58 mpg 12.1 s 114–129 g/km
0.9 TwinAir Cross 58 mpg 12.0 s 114 g/km
1.2 49 mpg 14.8 s 132 g/km
1.2 City Cross 49 mpg 14.5 s 129 g/km
1.3 MultiJet 75 60 mpg 14.5 s 125 g/km
1.3 MultiJet 80 Cross 60 mpg 14.3 s 125 g/km
1.3 MultiJet 95 64 mpg 12.5 s 117 g/km
1.3 MultiJet 95 Cross 63 mpg 12.7 s 119 g/km

Real MPG average for a FIAT Panda 4x4 (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

80%

Real MPG

34–63 mpg

MPGs submitted

110

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 4x4 (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

Is this poor Fiat Engineering - or just bad luck?

My wife bought a Fiat Panda Cross in Dec 2014 on a PCP. By Aug 2015, the rear differential was leaking oil and needed replacing. Over the period of the three year warranty several other issues came up including the replacement of two ECUs and the reconditioning of the turbo. Now seven months after the warranty has expired and four months before the PCP is paid off, the gearbox has started to grind and shakes. The dealership now thinks the car is worth less than I have left to pay on it and tells me that I will need to pay to have the gearbox investigate or replaced if I want to hand the car back. The car has done less than 58,000 miles. Should I expect a Fiat gearbox to last for longer?
Tell the dealer and the finance house that you would prefer to settle the matter in the Small Claims track of the County Court. Basically they have sold you a car that has not even lasted the four year repayment period so cannot be considered "of satisfactory quality" under the Sale of Goods Acts. See: https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/faq/consumer-rights/ Rear diff failure is common on Panda 4x4s. But please tell me if this is a TwinAir or a Multijet diesel.
Answered by Honest John
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What do owners think?

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