Thursday, August 30, 2012
The next generation Fiat Panda
Information about the all-new 2013 Panda has come out ahead of its debut at the Paris Motor Show, and it looks to continue the Panda heritage well, yet integrates some of the latest Fiat styling. So what makes this different than any other "cute ute"?
First off, it's truly small with a 90.5" wheelbase and 145" overall length. That's the same as a Fiat 500's wheelbase and four inches longer than a 500. It also features Fiat's Torque on Demand four-wheel-drive system with an electronic locking differential for maximum off-road traction (Panda 4x4). In addition, the six-speed transmission has a low-range first gear; no word on the ratio, though. European engine choices will be an 900cc TwinAir Turbo making 85 horsepower and a 1.3-liter MultiJet II diesel making 75 horsepower. Suspension duties are handled by a MacPherson strut layout in front and a torsion beam rear. Fiat says it had off-road performance in mind when developing the suspension. Upping the Panda's off-road cred are underbody skid plates, unpainted lower moldings (no paint to scrape off), and a muffler that's raised for more clearance.
The next big question is will it be sold in North America? Currently Fiat North America only sells the 500 and 500c. There have been rumors of the Panda joining the Jeep lineup as a mini off roader. I'd love to see the Panda come to the U.S. either as a Fiat or a Jeep, as I believe we need more subcompact AWD/4WD models. (Just make sure it's got a manual trans option on the AWD/4WD versions.) I've long admired the capability of these little rigs; a vehicle such as this hasn't been seen since the disappearance of the Subaru Justy. Maybe it's time for a return?