Introduction Panda 100 HP Panda Panda Panda 4X4 versions
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A consummate off-roader, able to get you out of a tight spot when the going gets tough. But also a nimble vehicle that can easily weave in and out of city traffic. This, in brief, describes the twin soul of the Panda 4x4, a car that aims to surprise the most world-weary youngster and has sold 75,000 since its launch: it is the biggest-selling off-road car in Italy. Now the range is made up of the Panda 4x4 (a quintessentially practical application of the vehicle), the Panda 4x4 Climbing (the small and elegant off-roader able to tackle any situation with an extra touch of interior and exterior sophistication) – and lastly the Panda Cross that brings to the Panda 4x4 range a touch of sportiness and stylistic elegance that make it fashionable enough to appeal to a young, go-ahead audience.

Panda 4x4 and Panda 4x4 Climbing

The new model is available with a lively, tried and tested 60 bhp 1.2 engine (44 kW) and the ground-breaking 70 bhp 1.3 multijet engine; two specifications (Panda 4x4 and Panda 4x4 Climbing), two interior specifications and ten body colours. On one hand, the Panda 4x4 Climbing presents itself as a small, stylish off-roader able to tackle any situation with an extra touch of sophistication inside and out, an ideal car for extroverts on the move. On the other hand, the range also offers a second specification (Panda 4x4) that does not feature the stylish exterior features of the Climbing but is altogether a more practical down-to-earth vehicle. Attributes include an extraordinary ability to perform on off-road routes, a viscous coupling drive system and high grip tyres.

Both specifications share small dimensions (e.g. the Climbing version is 357 cm long, 160 cm wide and 163 cm high) and great handling in addition to greater height than the conventional model: the extra five centimetres make all the difference by increasing the already outstanding visibility and allowing great mastery of the road, even over difficult routes. The turning circle is just 9.6 metres. Not to mention the fact that the authentic off-road look makes for a minimum ground clearance (standard A) of 165 millimetres for the Panda 4x4 Climbing (160 mm for the basic version). This impression is reinforced by certain exterior features that also perform a specific off-road function: for example, the bumpers (front and rear) come complete with protective shields while the side strips are large and coordinate with special strips on the wings plus a guard under the engine. Two different tyres are available: the Climbing version comes with 185/65-14 (M+S) tyres suitable for any type of application; the first specification, on the other hand, adopts 165/70-14 (M+S) tyres that are specially reinforced with a tread designed for low grip surfaces.

Inside, the Panda 4x4 offers a distinctive, sophisticated interior that benefits from special fabric trims offered in two colour matches: grey/black and grey/beige. The new 4x4 version also retains the big luggage capacity that has always been one of the strengths of this model. With the one-piece or split rear seat folded down, the space increases from a minimum of 200 to a maximum of 855 dm3 (measured to the roof). If the rear seat is split and also slides, the figures are 230 dm3 (with the seat fully forward) and 780 dm3 respectively. The Panda 4x4 is a car of huge personality that will be able to satisfy customers with different needs and tastes, including the growing number of drivers who seek adventure and an open-air life. The new version offers such customers a permanent four wheel drive system with a viscous coupling and two differentials that come into play automatically when required to tackle any situation with ease. An inveterate explorer that is most at home on unsurfaced, difficult roads, as we can see from its standard A ramp angles, particularly the approach angle that measures the maximum front angle that can be negotiated by an off-road vehicle without the body touching the road. The second value is the departure angle, i.e. the maximum slope that can be climbed in reverse starting from a horizontal surface. The last one is the ramp angle, i.e. the maximum possible angle at the base of a triangular ramp (isosceles) that can be negotiated up without the bottom of the car touching the ground. The Climbing specification of the new model records the following values: 24° (front), 42° (rear) and 24° (ramp), that become 26°, 44° and 23° respectively for the Panda 4x4 specification. The maximum climbable gradient is more than 50%.

The 4x4 supermini boasts excellent driving comfort due to the tried and tested suspension layout with its specific settings. At the front, the suspension is independent, MacPherson type with lower wishbones linked to a subframe and an anti-roll bar connected to the shock absorber. The rear suspension is also independent with longitudinal tie rods connected to a specific chassis with anti-roll bar.

As already mentioned, the cars available are the tried and tested 1.2 that develops a maximum power of 60 bhp (44 kW) at 5000 rpm and a torque of 10.4 kgm (102 Nm) at 2500 rpm and the 70 bhp 1.3 Multijet (51 kW) at 4000 rpm and torque of 14.8 kgm (145 Nm) at 1500 rpm. When equipped with the first power unit, the Panda 4x4 accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 20 seconds and reaches a top speed of 145 km/h (when equipped with a second-generation turbodiesel engine, the figures are 16 seconds and 155 km/h respectively).

It should be pointed out that, after being the first to introduce engines with Multijet technology to the mini sector, Fiat was also the first to make this engineering heritage available to 4x4 minis. The equipment package on this specific version is complemented by a Nav Plus infotelematic system, headlight washers and a Dualdrive electric power steering system (the latter is standard over the range). The new car is also unequalled when it comes to safety. Beginning with its outstanding braking system: on versions equipped with the 1.2 Fire power unit, all wheels are fitted with 240 mm diameter discs (the front ones are ventilated) that rise to 257 mm on Multijet versions. The Panda 4x4 offers as standard ABS with EBD complete with an antislip function during deceleration (MSR). The Panda 4x4 and Panda 4x4 Climbing are unique in their segment for offering an electronic differential lock with the LD (Locking Differential) function.

Panda Cross: unique style combining sportiness and elegance

The Panda Cross, available only with a 70 bhp 1.3 16v Multijet engine, conveys an immediate impression of freshness and fun, backed by solidity and sturdiness. It also guarantees driving satisfaction and a will to live life to the full and satisfy a desire to travel in complete freedom. The new version features styling similar to that of larger off-road cars but with all the benefits that only a mini can offer. The Panda Cross therefore combines elegant features with sporty traits to create a product with a strong aesthetic personality: roof bars, chunky side strips, big headlights and wide bumpers. The new vehicle is also outstanding for an off-road performance typical of an SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle). The car can overcome any difficulty with its small size and four wheel drive (4x4 system with viscous coupling) and its locking differential (a feature more typical of higher segments that ensures the optimum division of drive torque to the wheels with the best grip on the ground). Apart from all this, it is small enough to go anywhere you want: the car measures 358 cm long, 161 cm wide, 164 cm tall with a wheelbase of 230 cm.

Inside, the Panda Cross offers a distinctive, sophisticated interior that benefits from special fabric trims in three ‘b-colore’ colour schemes: sand/black, sand/green and orange/black. The new 4x4 version also retains the big luggage capacity that has always been one of the strengths of this model. With the one-piece or split rear seat folded down, the space increases from a minimum of 200 to a maximum of 855 dm3 (measured to the roof). If the rear seat is split and also slides, the figures are 230 dm3 (with the seat fully forward) and 780 dm3 respectively.


The suspension layout adopted on the Panda Cross ensures great handling and driving comfort. The front system is a MacPherson configuration while the rear suspension features interconnected wheels (i.e. semi-independent) with a torsion beam. The Panda Cross is fitted as standard with 15” alloys and 175/65R15 tyres, again to achieve a better balance between handling and comfort.

Apart from driving satisfaction, a Fiat must also offer on-board well-being. And that means surrounding the driver and passenger with technologies that ensure the very highest comfort standards. Hence the need to make the interior environment into a cosseting, enveloping living area: the Panda Cross therefore offers as standard a remote control unit, Dualdrive electric steering, electric mirrors, leather steering wheel, passenger seat with a pouch on the seat back and a compartment under the seat, electric windows, height-adjustable driver’s seat and adjustable steering wheel. Not to mention the fact that the new version offers features that are absolutely unique for this segment, e.g. the revolutionary 70 bhp 1.3 Multijet engine and an electronic differential lock with Locking Differential function. A long list of options and accessories is also available to express the taste and personality of any customer to the full: for example, you could choose to equip your car with the sophisticated infotelematic system CONNECT Nav Plus, an automatic climate control system and a Sky Dome electric sunroof.

The new version offers an outstanding braking system that guarantees prompt, progressive braking and short stopping distances. The ventilated front discs measure 257x22 mm while the solid rear discs measure 240x11 mm. The Panda Cross offers as standard ABS with EBD complete with an antislip function during deceleration (MSR). As far as passive safety is concerned, the Cross version is equipped with a double airbag at the front and rear head-restraints. Foglights and a headlight washing system are also available for a higher level of preventive safety to meet off-road driving needs.

A Panda Cross equipped with the 70 bhp 1.3 16v Multijet unit combined with a 5-speed manual gearbox can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 18 seconds and reach a top speed of 150 km/h. The outstanding torque, even at low speeds, and good fuel economy (5.3 l per 100 km over a combined route) ensure an outstanding performance fuel consumption ratio.

The exclusive Panda Monster

The Panda Monster, derived from the 4x4 version and aimed at young and exclusive customers, is the outcome of a joint venture between two companies that are bywords for Italian flair and Italian automotive experience on an international stage: Fiat and Ducati. This Special Series is available in a limited, numbered edition (695 vehicles) that features a design inspired by the new Ducati Monster 695 motorbike that had its world premiere in February at the Paris Motor Show.

The special version is equipped with the lively 70 bhp 1.3 Multijet engine and a host of creature comforts: including an automatic climate control system, a Bluetooth handsfree system, radio with CD and MP3 file player. Outside, the new feature reflects all the brawn of the Ducati Monster, with its distinctive black livery and other black painted styling features: side strips, mouldings, roof bars, air intakes – and also the headlight and tail-light frames. The rear windows, rear screen and the quarterlight are also dark. The grille and bumper shield are metal coloured while the mean-looking alloys offer a glimpse of gold-painted brake callipers beneath. The same sporty look is evident inside the car, where the upholstery is in black leather and Alcantara Starlight.

Altogether, the Panda Monster is a quintessential expression of the best Italian design. So much so that Fiat decided to change its traditional marketing approach, as you can see from the websites and, where customers can see a photo gallery, find out about the vehicle’s technical specifications and view the car inside, courtesy of film clips and animations. Interested potential customers may then book a visit with their nearest dealership by filling in a form to request more information. Interested customers are then contacted by the dealer and can then visit a showroom to find out about the new car in detail and learn the on-the-road price (the negotiations are confidential).

Permanent four wheel drive

To meet the needs of customers with different needs and tastes, including the growing numbers of customers who love adventure and an open-air life, all Panda 4x4 cars are fitted with a permanent four wheel drive system with two differentials and a viscous coupling. With this system, the four wheel drive is engaged automatically (i.e. without requiring any engagement by the driver) and allows outstanding drive torque distribution over the front and rear axle according to the road surface and vehicle application requirements. For example, on asphalt roads with normal grip, 98% of drive torque is directed to the front wheels so that the car can behave in a similar way to a front wheel drive vehicle with equally satisfying handling. It also provides excessive fuel and tyre consumption due to small differences in rotating speed between the front and rear wheels.

If the road surface becomes slippery – and grip is reduced – the front drive wheels tend to skid but the viscous coupling immediately corrects this tendency by stiffening and progressively transmitting a rising drive torque percentage to the rear end to cancel out the skid. This torque transfer is not perceptible to the driver except as an outstanding ability to get out of trouble, e.g. on snow-covered, icy or muddy surfaces.

The Fiat Panda 4x4 is also equipped with an antislip system that operates during deceleration by exploiting the potential of the ABS system (i.e. making use of the sensors that record wheel rpm) and the electronic engine control system to prevent the engine braking torque and the viscous coupling from causing the rear end to lock during sudden decelerations on downhill slopes or on bends. Together with the four wheel drive system, this system ensures great driving safety over slippery surfaces. For the first time in the Panda 4x4 range, this vehicle is fitted as standard with an electronic differential lock with LD (Locking Differential) function that acts at speeds below 30 km/h to brake slipping wheels and transfer torque to the other wheels on the same axis: on take-off, for example, and over snowy, icy or muddy roads – and on all occasions when the wheels do not grip to the same extent.

Lastly, the Panda 4x4 drive system makes full use of the viscous coupling that forms an integral part of the rear differential unit. The advantage of this configuration is that the drive system is engaged in a relatively immediate, automatic fashion to offer traction and effort when difficult road surface conditions make this necessary. Now it is time to take a closer look at the way a viscous coupling works. The devices contain a set of perforated or slightly finned discs submerged in a viscous fluid with very specific properties: as the temperature rises, fluid viscosity increases.

When the two driven axles slip, they stir up this fluid and cause its temperature to increase. As soon as the temperature rises, the fluid becomes more viscous and tends to drag the discs together and transmit drive torque to the rear axle. This is a striking, clever piece of engineering because the oil acts as a sensor, i.e. it detects the presence of slip between the axles by its temperature - and also as an actuator because it tends to counteract the slipping effect by increasing its viscosity.

Report & Photos: Fiat Auto