Test series “Test drive”: How does the Fiat Panda fare off-road?

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How is the Fiat Panda doing in the field?

Sometimes a Fiat Panda doesn’t need roads

Some call the Panda 4×4 the smallest off-road vehicle in the world, and manufacturer Fiat does not mind. You can see what the four-wheel drive car actually aligns off-road in the video here. Source: The World

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We thought for a long time whether we should really do that: send a small Fiat into a large area. But then curiosity won out – and the Panda 4×4 passed the test well.

Kcan you really do that? Just because a car has all-wheel drive doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be an off-road specialist, but with the Fiat Panda 4×4 we want to know: We drive where the big ones drive.

Our test course is the off-road area of ​​the ADAC Berlin-Brandenburg driving safety center, and you might not win the Camel Trophy there, but it’s sandy, muddy and steep there too. And because we were there at the beginning of April, there is even still snow (see video) – difficult conditions.

Of course, the panda can’t do everything here, because the ground clearance sets a few limits for it. 16 centimeters is almost five more than the normal Panda, but cars like a Range Rover can roll stones over 30 centimeters high.

The 50 percent mountain inspires respect

Still, it is amazing what the little panda can do. Fiat attests 70 percent climbing ability of its all-wheel drive, which is again 30 percentage points less than some big players, but the 50 percent mountain here on the site alone inspires respect.

And the Panda 4×4 masters this hill in a relaxed manner, the briefly translated first gear of its 1.3-liter turbodiesel engine helps it, and you don’t even have to press the button for the electronic differential lock.

It is more likely to be used in the muddy hollows deeper in the forest, where the panda likes to lift a leg because the difference between a normal path and the puddle floor is so big. So that the free-floating wheel does not turn senselessly in the air, it is braked automatically and only the wheel that is in contact with the ground still moves. This makes the journey safer, quieter and more effective, and that also applies when all four wheels are on the ground, but the surface is differently slippery.

The panda can also easily dig its way out of deep sand, it only has to pass on a steep incline that is still deeply snowed – at some point even the standard winter tires no longer work – and when climbing the waterfall: Here the stones protrude higher than 16 centimeters the floor, and we don’t want to destroy the test car.

The most expensive way to drive panda

At 17,390 euros, the 75 hp Panda 1.3 Multijet 4×4 Rock is a really inexpensive off-road vehicle, but it is also the most expensive way to drive a Panda. The 3.68 meter short mini car is available from 8990 euros.

And on the road, of course, the 4×4 shares the strengths and weaknesses of the panda concept. Design, seating position and usability of the interior are good. The workmanship, noise of the engine (growling) and consumption are average: 4.7 liters according to the standard, 5.7 in the test. The doughy steering and the indifferently tuned chassis are rather weak. The Panda 4×4 pulls its course properly, but it also understeers early and leans sharply outward in curves – without, on the other hand, offering excessive driving comfort. Good: ESP is standard equipment, the stabilization electronics intervene at an early stage.

Light and shadow, but in the end the positives predominate, especially in the well-equipped rock model (including air conditioning, roof rails, light alloy wheels, CD radio and fog lights). Also because the car does some of what it promises in the field.

Why 100 percent is not 90 degrees

Perhaps one more remark: The matter of the incline (optionally the incline) is often misjudged. It is not the vertical wall on which the information in maps and on traffic signs is based, it is the 45-degree angle: You drive 100 meters and gain 100 meters in height – if you connect the starting point and destination, one is killed 45 degrees inclined straight out (it also works at a distance of 30 centimeters and a height of 30 centimeters, try a ruler).

To climb such an incline, you need a real SUV with a reduction (which the Panda 4×4 does not have), a surface that is not too muddy – and a driver with a heart.

Because 100 percent, although only 45 degrees, look like a wall when you stand in front of it. In this respect, the 70 percent (31.5 degrees) that the Fiat Panda 4×4 manages in extreme cases is worthy of all honor. It’s not a Range Rover, after all.

“Welt” reporter Stefan Anker regularly tweets spontaneous car news and observations from everyday driving and testing and is pleased if you are here click and follow him. Or check out his Facebook page past.

Co-comments from the editorial team

There is currently more appearance than reality on German streets. There are so many models with plastic paneling on wheel arches and sills as well as all-round door protection strips to make them look like they are off-road. Because it has something sporty about it. The Panda 4×4 is much more honest. All-wheel drive, two differentials, one of which can be locked at the push of a button – at least light off-road use is possible. But be careful: the Panda is also available as a dummy SUV; then it is called "Trekking" and has no all-wheel drive. Denise Juchem, Engine editing

The question with the all-wheel-drive panda is: Who needs a car that can get up and down the steepest slopes and is also easy to park and manoeuvrable? An off-road vehicle and a city runabout in one. The balancing act is well meant, but it has to fail because anyone who really wants to go off-road with a car is a hunter and packs his car full of guns and wild boars. Or he’s a survivor who needs to have his camping gear with him. Unfortunately, there is still no space in the Panda for more than one large aluminum case. But in the city there are also a lot of nasty obstacles: potholes, cobblestones, curbs. And the little one masters it brilliantly. Robert Dunker, Engine editing

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