Don't jump in with both Fiat
I can give you plenty of reasons to buy this fine little car -- and one that would keep me (and maybe you) from even thinking of it. In the usual run of things, when I find something I don't particularly like, I ask myself the question: could I live with it?
Believe it or not, I try to be reasonable and put myself in other people's shoes for a bit of perspective.
Which is what I needed to do, big time, with one aspect of this new Panda city car from Fiat. Put myself in other people's shoes, that is. Because it sure didn't work for me in my size 10s.
By that I mean that unless you have small, neat feet (and mine are quite the opposite, despite so frequently finding themselves in my mouth) I forecast that you will find it somewhere between irritating and exasperating to find a place to rest your left (clutch) foot when you are driving.
A small matter, you might say. And you would be right. And wrong -- terribly wrong. Try it. I'm telling you, constantly tipping off the edge of the pedal or its support while trying to drive was a pain. It completely affected my driving. It left me feeling uncomfortable, cramped and uneasy. I had nowhere to put it.
I was truly surprised at how much having to keep the old leg in semi-crooked-back mode discommoded me. I am not exaggerating.
And that is a great, great shame. Because this is a really good little car. Lots and lots of room and equipment. And lots and lots of driving appeal to it. Indeed, I'd say it is probably one of the smoothest to drive in its class, with a real feel of quality to the suspension and steering. The sort you'd expect from a larger, more expensive sort of motor.
They have worked hard at isolating noise and vibration from the chassis and there is undoubtedly less body roll and better all-round grip.
And yet the steering did not have that awful woolly feel. I enjoyed that part of the experience (I am of course 'isolating' the My Left Foot repeats).
The 1.2-litre petrol engine was spritely. Typically Fiat, it was nippy and added a bit of fun to the drive. It also falls into the €160-a-year road tax band.
I expected it to be fine around town. It was. A real city car. Absolutely a joy to park. Because of its shape, you can be really precise. I was more surprised at how well it coped with a long journey at motorway speed.
I did anticipate a lot more noise and 'boom' in the engine. Thankfully, and to the Panda's credit, it never materialised. Decent drive, this.
I suppose the most important part of the Panda (slightly larger than the old one) is the cabin. There was great room in it for what is quite a small car really. Good room at the back too for the children.
The materials used in it, on the dash, around the doors, the seating etc also felt better than before. Yes, there was a feel of solidity to it.
I liked it a lot, as you can see, but if ever there was a case of trying something for size before you do anything, then this is it. I can't emphasise that enough. Those with neat feet to the front of the queue, please. Those with size 6s and up --well don't say you weren't warned.