BELISSIMO: City appeal with a touch of Italian flair

BY CHARL BOSCH - JULY 24, 2014

When it comes to producing small city cars with a touch of style and something different from the norm, you can always count on the Italians to deliver. After all, city cars drive best in a country with crowded and congested cities. Fiat is then the ultimate symbol of these Italian city cars.

Although the original 500 set the tone for what a small city car should be like, it has been the marque’s Panda model that has been the biggest success story with over 6.5 million units having been sold worldwide since its debut in 1980.

After receiving the keys to the all-new third generation Fiat Panda, I was keen to see what sets it apart from its rivals.

Like its predecessor, the new Panda has kept its mini MPV profile to maximise space inside but now features a rounder angular face with a more pronounced front spoiler and restyled tail lamps. All this has helped to give the Panda a more diverse appeal to the prospected buyer.

Inside, the dashboard has been re-designed and now features a prep point for the optional TomTom satnav system. On the centre hang-down section, the sound system has now been incorporated into the dashboard while the controls for the climate control are new and while the dash mounted gear lever and electric window switches are carried over, the centre console now features more storage spaces and lots of cup holders as well as the new touchpad like handbrake lever.

As for standard kit, the top spec Lounge model features Bluetooth, electric mirrors, 15 inch alloy wheels, satellite audio controls, MP3 compatible sound system with aux input and a system called City Steering which, at the push of a button, makes the steering go really light all to aid parking.

Power is provided by Fiat’s 1.2 litre FIRE petrol engine which makes 51 kW and 102 N.m of torque. Drive goes to the front wheels via a very slick five speed manual box. Fiat claims a combined fuel consumption figure of 5.2 l /100 km. The Panda also features a class leading three year / 100 000 km maintenance plan.

I was left really impressed with the new Panda and the fact that Fiat has stuck to its city car roots and made something truly impressive. At R154 990 for the Lounge (R139 990 for the base Pop model) it really represents good value for money.

To book a test drive, visit Maritime Motors Fiat at William Moffat Expressway in Port Elizabeth or call 041 399 2880.