So there I am minding my own business and setting up test drives with various manufacturers when I get through to my contact in Fiat Ireland. I ask him what's on fleet at the moment and he goes through what's on offer. That's when he mentioned something I've never sat in, never mind tested before, he says, how about the FIAT Panda 4x4. He had me at hello.
The Fiat Panda 4x4 is an intriguing, and dare I say it, fun machine. It looks quirky, so you can't blame me for being drawn-in when I saw the 4x4 badge on the side of the door panels on this tame-enough beast. It drives quiet well and it's not nearly as bumpy as it should be. Steering is adequate, and although there is a bit of body roll on corners, this car is solid enough. It handles the road very nicely.
Sadly I didn't get to test its 4x4 capabilities properly. Sure I brought it up some mountainous roads, but sadly I didn't get to bring it off road. I can say that the suspension has been tweaked in comparison with the 2WD version which is there to help off-road capabilities. This is a city car that'll bring you further afield...literally.
I drove the 4x4 1.3 MultiJet diesel engine which offers 75hp, despite this figure I did find the Fiat Panda 4x4 to be nifty enough. The engine is pretty loud and of course it gets louder during acceleration. 0-100km/h should be achieved in just over 14 seconds and the top speed of this vehicle is just under 160 km/h. The Panda 4x4 burns 125g/CO2 per km.
Inside and Out
The exterior is more rugged than before and with the higher suspension it looks like a regular Panda - but after starting a course of steroids.
Inside the driving position is high enough and you get the benefit of seeing more of the road. The cabin to the front has a very spacious feel, and even though this car is relatively small even the rear has a nice spacious feel. One item which shouldn't have impressed me so much, but did, is the word Panda which Fiat has nicely engraved into the entire dashboard cover - it does show that attention to detail was important to them with this vehicle.
The CBG.ie verdict
I won't beat around the bush here. I like this car a lot. It's quirky and fun to drive. The interior is spacious, the drive position is high. Sure the engine is loud, but this car will bring you over more terrain. It gets the thumbs-up from me.