Those who merely glance at the used Fiat Panda could be forgiven for pouring a cauldron of molten scorn over this Italian supermini. This is because the styling resembles a shoebox, its low price suggests mediocrity, and Fiat's variable build quality can be more alarming than a WW2 air raid siren. However, despite these preconceptions the used Fiat Panda is actually worth a second look.
So, let's start with the big issue – build quality. Fiat worked hard to raise their game when designing the 2004 Panda, and it shows. The interior feels properly screwed together, the electrics last more than five minutes, and there have been no major mechanical horror stories. That said, the Panda is still a cheap Italian car so there are probably better choices if longevity is your priority.
The Panda is available with a choice of four engines - the 1.1, 1.2, and 1.4-litre petrols, and the 1.3-litre diesel. My preference is the 70bhp diesel as it is fast enough for most run-around motorists and by far the most economical. It hits 60mnph in 12.6 seconds, reaches 99mph, and returns a combined average of 65mpg. This aversion to gas guzzling means the diesel's emissions are only 114g/km, so it sits in road tax band C/£30.
As well as costing less to run than a Raleigh Chopper the Panda's driving characteristics are fairly decent. The suspension, although firm, provides a comfortable ride and does a reasonable job of controlling body roll The gearbox is also a pleasure to use, and the light steering makes parking virtually effortless. The sporty 1.4-litre 100bhp variant feels slightly different to its siblings, as it has a sharper more responsive set-up.
Further Panda plus points include the spacious cabin, decent luggage space, and the distinctive road presence that makes it stand out from the crowd. Equipment includes climate control, bluetooth connectivity, electric heated door mirrors, electric windows, and dent reducing parking sensors.
According to Motoring.co.uk's database, a three year old used Fiat Panda could be your new pride and joy from only £4,000. That is a very small amount of money for a likeable Italian supermini.
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