Panda Cub

The headline with Fiat’s TwinAir Panda is ‘frugality’ but there’s so much more to this stylish Italian city car. With Petrol prices riding high the opportunity to buy a two cylinder, 875cc Fiat is pretty timely. And this clever Panda is not expensive either.

Fiat’s most famous two cylinder car was the brilliant 500, or Bambina as it was known in NZ. But as brilliant as the Bambina was its meagre horsepower and crash gearbox make it a less than ideal commuter car today. And while on paper the tiny engined Panda TwinAir may not sound like a big improvement over its distant cousin the reality is the little hatchback is more than meets the eye.

The two cylinder turbocharged engine pumps out a very respectable 85hp and if you drive like a Nana you can get 67mpg out of it. At the 2011 International Engine Awards it took out the top spots in ‘best engine under 1 litre’, ‘best new engine’, ‘best green engine’ and ‘international engine of the year’ with the chairman of the awards calling it one of the “all-time great engines”. High praise indeed and it’s actually quicker than the 4 cylinder 1.2 model. Add this to the spacious interior, copious storage and plenty of techy stuff and you have a very cool city car that’s just a bit different to the competition.

One of the less appealing aspects to modern Fiats is their semi-auto Dualogic transmissions. As clever as they are they just have too many issues and with most Pandas sold here having this gearbox it’s a bit of a turn off. Unless, like this one, it has the traditional, and really quite rare, manual 5 speed stick shift with a clutch and everything.

The price of just $6450 is very appealing for this NZ new, 2014 ‘Easy’ model, making it a very easy decision.

It may not be beautiful but like the panda of the hairy variety it is cute only with a much smaller appetite. More details here.

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