Type 319 Panda
1 Oct 2013
Released in Europe in late 2011, the Type-319 Panda rules its segment in Europe, is the third generation since the series started in 1980, and is Italy’s biggest seller overall.
The Italian-made sub-B segment competitor to the VW Up and Suzuki Alto is also the largest, strongest, roomiest, quietest, and most refined to date, styled in-house at Centro Stilo in Turin as an evolution of the successful second-generation Type-169.
However it uses a variation of the modified Mexican-built 500 platform – which is slightly longer and has been beefed up compared to other 500s to better meet US rear-impact legislation.
This means conventional front-drive engineering underneath, from a MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension set-up to an electrically operated rack and pinion steering system.
The relatively wide dimensions allow a five-person cabin configuration against the 500’s (and Up’s) four-seater arrangement.
As with the 500, only the Pop model offers Fiat’s 1.2-litre four-cylinder single overhead cam petrol Fire engine. It produces 51kW of power at 5500rpm and 102Nm of torque at 3000rpm.
Drive is via a five-speed manual transmission only the TwinAir models offer a robotised clutchless transmission dubbed Dualogic.
The TwinAir, of course, refers to Fiat’s award-winning 0.9-litre two-cylinder turbo petrol unit, delivering 63kW at 5500rpm and 145Nm at 1900rpm.
The final engine option is the Trekking’s 1.3-litre MultiJet four-cylinder turbo-diesel, pumping out 55kW at 4000rpm and 190Nm at 1500rpm.
The Trekking sits some 50mm higher off the ground, but remains a front-driver (though in some markets a 4x4 version is also offered). It also brings a unique ESC setting for improved front-wheel traction, among other minor changes.
A range of customisation items is available through Fiat’s Mopar accessories division, in much the same way as Mini owners can individualise their cars.
To further emphasise its design-driven focus, all Pandas employ a rounded-off square motif Fiat calls ‘Squircle’ throughout the car (especially the interior), to help give it a flourish of style and individuality.
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A winner in every way but one: that's the Fiat Panda.
When it was new