Fiat Panda 1.2 Dynamic Eco 2010

There are things in life that you can’t or won’t throw away, that pair of shoes that you’ve had for years for instance. They are falling to bits, they might even let a bit of water in on a wet day, but still when you put them on they give you comfort like no other shoe. I have such a pair, they are made by the skaters favourite Vans. I bought those years ago on a whim, you see they are very wide and I like that in a shoe, and it gives your foot room to breath. I washed them once, I stood looking at the washing machine like an expectant Father, hoping that the upper would stay attached to the sole, but all was well when they came out. They curled up a bit when they dried out, but once I’d put them back on my feet they soon went back into that same old shape, total comfort returned.

What seems like a million years ago I used to own a car like my Van’s, it was a Panda and I loved it because it was mine, bought with my own money. It didn’t matter that the name on the back was Fat and, the “I” was missing from Fiat and “P and a” from Panda, it was my “fat and”. To be fair it was brilliant little car, you could pile people in, put stuff in the boot and fix the inevitable break down with a hammer and some ladies tights. The body roll was terrible and the cabin would disintegrate when you drove over any bumps, but it was just like those old shoes; comforting.

This is what Fiat do well, make a small car that becomes like a little puppy, it almost gets a personally. People name their small Fiat’s, mine was called Angela because I once knew a very temperamental woman called Angela, and she has rusty bits too. Every few years Fiat brings out a car that everyone likes but only a few buy, people are somehow afraid of Fiat and there’s a reason for that. My self destructing Panda wasn’t alone, most Fiat’s from the 80’s fell to bits, they even marketed the car’s as “easy to repair” so even Fiat knew there was a shelf life on their cars. In the 90’s there was the Punto which was a bit of a “Friday car”, that means if you were unlucky you bought the last car Giuseppe made in his working week, lets say haphazardly. You could get a car that would go forever and not give any trouble, but just as easy be showered with bits of engine driving away from the dealer.

In recent years Fiat has gotten a lot better, you would be hard pressed to find a bad one, but still Irish people don’t trust the slightly mad little Italian cars.

The modern Panda bares little or no relation to the old war horse I once drove, it’s far better in all respects. The Panda has a great look; it manages to be tough and cute all at the same time, there’s a boxy exterior that leads to a flat tailgate. The boot space is 206ltrs with the seat up and 861ltrs, but you won’t find that information on any Fiat web site, I know I’ve tried, so treat the measurements as an estimate. Let’s just say the boot is small, it was hard enough to get a Mothercare push chair into the boot, with a bit of manly pressure it went in but it had to stick up above the rear seats. You must remember that this is a city car, built for pottering about the town; it was never going to be a load lugger. That said, there are only 4 seats, sure there’s a squab of sorts in the middle but I wouldn’t ask anyone to put their posterior on it. There are only 4 seat belts; the fifth can be added for €125 option. I set my drivers seat to where I like it and, I promise you, I would have to saw my legs off at the knees to get in the back.

On the road, the peppy little 1.2ltr engine is great, it’s the kind of engine you want to rev until you can see the pistons hitting the bonnet and then you change gear. From the drivers’ seat you would think you were in a bigger car, the dash is Spartan but it has all you need and no more, functional is a good word to describe the interior layout. There’s a little body roll in the corners but this is a tall car, surprisingly there’s very little under steer. If you drive it like a normal human being you will get great MPG, up around 40 or more mpg is normal enough.

Despite the problems, this is a city run about, no more no less. This is what Fiat does best, they should stick to small cars, if you’re willing to compromise on space or buy things specifically to fit the little Panda then you will wind up with a great little car that has something so many cars are missing, personality.

The car I drove is not for sale, but there are a few on Carzone so I’ve done the search for you here don’t say I never do anything for you.
Just for a laugh, watch the video, it’s funny