Fiat Panda 4×4: Out and about in the world’s smallest off-road vehicle

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Out and about in the world‘s smallest off-road vehicle

Fiat Panda 4x4: Out and about in the world's smallest off-road vehicle-smallest

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Gradients and scree – that’s exactly what the Fiat Panda 4×4 is made for. And although you have him…

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Fiat Panda 4x4: Out and about in the world's smallest off-road vehicle-world

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… sure as you will see every off-road vehicle more often on asphalt, do it…

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Fiat Panda 4x4: Out and about in the world's smallest off-road vehicle-fiat

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… occasional trips away from the streets of fun. The ground clearance is 21 centimeters, the intake ducts of the engine were also painted significantly higher in contrast to the predecessorso that water crossings are less dangerous.

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Fiat Panda 4x4: Out and about in the world's smallest off-road vehicle-smallest

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If, despite a slope angle of 20 degrees at the front (rear: 36 degrees), it scratches the sub-floor,…

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Fiat Panda 4x4: Out and about in the world's smallest off-road vehicle-off-road

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… then there is usually really only one scratch and no crack: The front and rear underride protection is not made of plastic, but of steel.

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Fiat Panda 4x4: Out and about in the world's smallest off-road vehicle-off-road

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The inside of the Panda 4×4 is more elegant than the other Panda models, the predominant cockpit color is hunter green.

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Fiat Panda 4x4: Out and about in the world's smallest off-road vehicle-panda

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If you just want the off-road look but don’t need all-wheel drive, you can also choose the new Panda Trekking: front-wheel drive and 2000 euros cheaper.

Source: Fiat

Fiat Panda 4x4: Out and about in the world's smallest off-road vehicle-off-road

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The first Panda 4×4 came onto the market in 1983, and you can still see a few examples in Italian mountain villages. Over all three generations, the panda has grown to around 6.5M since 1980million times sold, including 416,200 models with the nickname 4×4.

Source: Fiat

It is a classic within a classic: the Panda 4×4. At 3.68 meters, the Fiat is the smallest all-terrain vehicle and the only small car with all-wheel drive. The world has tried it off-road.

I.are you really serious? The sign says 57 percent, and it indicates the incline to come. A simple Fiat Panda with 75 hp should create it. Just for comparison: The bad Alpine passes, which caravan vacationers are always warned about, have twelve, maybe 15 percent. But 57?

But this isn’t just any panda. It is the new Panda 4×4 with all-wheel drive, and like its predecessors, it is being advertised as a light, manoeuvrable alternative to real off-road vehicles. The extreme incline is part of the off-road track at the Fiat test center in Balocco, Italy. Then it has to work, right?

The engine almost dies

The Panda 4×4 could even cope with 70 percent, says head of development Mauro Pierallini. So go ahead, first gear, cautiously accelerate, but not too cautiously – and up. It feels like climbing straight up into the sky, at least only blue can be seen through the windshield, but not the top.

The engine is plowing, you can feel it, it almost dies, but then the summit is already reached, the panda nose is dropping, and now, as the sign still said, one shouldn’t apply the brakes, but rather let the small car roll down into the valley with first gear engaged.

It really has to be?

The Panda 4×4 masters this test as well. You have to keep the additional designation in mind to never, never, never try something like this with a conventional panda.

But does that have to be all? A Fiat Panda with all-wheel drive for 16,390 euros after all? You shouldn’t think that way. The Panda 4×4 is, so to speak, a cult object, and it is also successful. Exactly 416,200 copies have been sold since 1983, with a total of 6.5 million panda this is a respectable size, to be precise, it is 6.4 percent. And now the incoming orders for the all-wheel drive model, at least in Italy, are already 15 percent, they say.

Lush standard equipment

There was already an all-wheel drive model in the first Panda generation, when the car was the “great box”. You can still see old Panda 4x4s driving around in Italian mountain villages today, they have something indestructible about them. Today a Panda 4×4 is less of a small utility vehicle than a Panda de Luxe. In addition to the all-wheel drive, Fiat equips it with almost everything that the surcharge list has to offer as standard.

ESP ex works, plus air conditioning, CD radio, light alloy wheels, central locking with remote control and electrically adjustable mirrors. In addition, the all-wheel-drive Panda has an interior design that sets it apart from the rest of the model range: the dashboard is green, the seats, some of which are upholstered in leather, can be ordered in green, orange or beige, and there is another storage compartment in the center console.

Two differentials, one is lockable

Most interesting, however, is the all-wheel drive technology. No other small car class (the Panda measures just 3.68 meters) has four powered wheels. Two differentials, one of which can be locked at the push of a button, complete the range and make the Panda 4×4 also suitable for light off-road use.

In Balocco you can try it out on dirt roads with loose scree: If you drive off hard and have previously locked the differential, every wheel that threatens to spin is braked electronically. That makes the journey safer and there are fewer stones flying around.

The Ferrari boss also drives a Panda 4×4

The very short first gear of the six-speed gearbox, which is only available in conjunction with the 0.9-liter two-cylinder turbo engine, is also sufficient for the advantage off the beaten track. The Panda 4×4 with 1.3-liter diesel is sufficient for five normal gears, the 190 Newton meters of torque get along well with the car.

Even Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo has always praised the Panda 4×4, with which he feels most comfortable when he is in his house in the mountains. Such enthusiasm is of course easy if you drive a Ferrari and a large Jeep Cherokee as alternatives, but today the panda is no longer the rolling statement of renunciation, but a full-fledged car that can be turned into a lifestyle object.

21 centimeters of ground clearance

Following this trend, Fiat is now also offering the Panda Trekking, a kind of 4×4 light, for the first time. It also has 21 centimeters of ground clearance like the Panda 4×4, and a differential can also be locked here. But it remains with front-wheel drive, the electronic braking intervention is limited to one of the two front wheels.

This measure also brings more security, says chief engineer Pierallini. If you want to climb an incline and have wet asphalt on the left, but snow under the tires on the right, a normal panda is overwhelmed beyond the twelve percent. Under these conditions, the Panda Trekking can manage gradients of more than 20 percent.

The price almost doubles

4×4 or trekking: In both cases, the Panda is far removed from the cheapest model for 8990 euros. Trekking with the 85 hp two-cylinder turbo gasoline engine costs 14,390 euros, the diesel costs 900 euros more, and the surcharge for the 4×4 variant is another 2000 euros for both engines. In between there is the new natural gas version of the two-cylinder, which is available from 15,390 euros, as a trekking model from 16,890 euros.

The 4×4 diesel represents the top at 17,290 euros, and of course such prices are still moderate compared to cars in the Golf class. But Fiat’s successful model, which incidentally had to allow itself to be overtaken by the new Cinquecento in the company’s internal statistics, is also a long way from its basic idea.

"Household appliance on wheels"

When the first generation of the Panda was introduced in 1980, its designer Giorgio Giugiaro described it as a “household appliance on wheels”. Everything was smooth and straight, even the window panes were not curved, the panda was deliberately cheap and acted as an antithesis to the belief in progress. Those times are over, now the panda can do everything. Even 57 percent inclines.

The trip to the presentation of the Panda was supported by Fiat. You can find our standards of transparency and journalistic independence at www.axelspringer.de/unabhaengigkeit

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