The third generation Panda 4×4, on sale in January 2013, has the same fun character, versatility, style, functionality and legendary use of space as its predecessors, but with the best of today’s quality, comfort, technology and safety features. It’s a smart solution for drivers who want city car features without trading the passenger room and comfort of a five-door, or the go-anywhere ability of a full SUV.
Despite the obvious advantages of having four-wheel drive in a compact five-door city car shape, the Panda 4×4 remains unique. By linking an automatic four-wheel drive system to a choice of advanced, economical engines in a car with raised ground clearance, Fiat has created a true city car with genuine 4×4 credibility.
The innovation doesn’t end there. Sitting between the 4×4 and the regular two-wheel drive version is the Panda Trekking, the world’s first CUV or City Utility Vehicle. This version features the Panda 4×4’s raised ride height but combines front-wheel drive with a sophisticated traction control system to enhance its remarkable abilities over slippery surfaces.
The Fiat Panda 4×4 and Trekking have the same friendly, stylish shape as the regular Panda but with design accents to convey the impression of a sophisticated, multifunctional SUV. Compared to the previous generation model the latest Panda is longer, wider and taller. On 4×4 and Trekking versions those dimensions increase slightly, but the cars still retain the requisite diminutive exterior proportions to remain firmly in the city car category. Inside, a modern design combines with high quality materials, plentiful equipment, modular interior space and one of the largest luggage compartments in its class.
The increased ride height of the Panda 4×4 and Trekking give them improved ground clearance for enhanced ability over rutted or uneven terrain. A body that’s significantly more rigid than previous versions sits on all-new suspension that has been optimised for a combination of on-road comfort and off-road aptitude.
Under the bonnet, Panda 4×4 and Trekking versions features the 1.3-litre MultiJet 2 turbo diesel. Both engines come with Start&Stop and a Gear Shift Indicator (GSI) which suggests to the driver the optimum point to change gear in order to achieve the best economy.
Designed to be easy to live with, the Panda 4×4 and Trekking feature the regular model’s Dualdrive electric power steering with ‘City’ function to make manoeuvring simple. There are six airbags, four of them standard, ABS anti-lock braking, and ESP (Electronic Stability Program) as standard. The Panda 4×4 and Trekking also feature the option of City Brake Control, a low speed collision mitigation system usually found only on much bigger cars. This ‘reads’ the road ahead and when it detects an obstacle in the car’s path it applies the brakes automatically.
The Fiat Panda’s helpful features aren’t just reserved for the driver. The rear seats can be specified to have multiple configurations and the Panda 4×4 and Trekking have 15 storage compartments, one more than the regular car.
The new Panda 4×4 and Trekking have been designed in line with Fiat DNA to offer smart solutions that improve buyers’ lives and make affordable technology accessible to everyone. They are the ultimate expression of the Panda’s versatility, cars ready and able to tackle mountain mule tracks and the urban jungle with the same assured panache. Talents like these mean the Panda 4×4 has no competitors as the world’s only genuine 4×4 city car. Equally, the Panda Trekking is the only vehicle in its class to be equipped with sophisticated traction control and a raised ride height.
The Fiat Panda 4×4 and Trekking have been designed to appeal to lovers of adventure and the open air as well as drivers who simply want the reassurance of extra grip on slippery surfaces. At the heart of the 4×4 model lies a sophisticated permanent all-wheel drive system that employs two differentials and an electronically controlled coupling governed by an electronic control unit. By analysing the information received from sensors on the vehicle, the control unit can apportion power between the front and rear axles depending on the amount of grip available.
The system is completely automatic and does not need any driver input. In normal dry conditions, 98 per cent of the engine torque is transferred to the front wheels. This means the car handles in a very similar way to a front-wheel drive model and there are no increases in fuel consumption and tyre wear.
Under low grip conditions such as snow, ice or mud, the electronically controlled coupling prevents wheel spin by progressively increasing the proportion of torque sent to the rear wheels. This enables traction to be optimally distributed to all four wheels and it’s done in such a seamless way that all the driver will notice is excellent grip and handling.
On a regular two-wheel drive car, the torque is distributed equally to each wheel. If one wheel starts slipping, a regular differential will make that wheel turn even more, increasing the slip. The Fiat Panda 4×4 features ESP (Electronic Stability Program) with ELD (Electronic Locking Differential) as standard.
The ELD helps improve traction by braking wheels with poor grip on slippery terrain and transferring the driving force to those with greater purchase. To enable ‘Lock’ mode, the coupling’s hydraulic circuit is preloaded in order to react more quickly in the case of differing speeds between front and rear axles.
Compared to a conventional viscous coupling, the electronically controlled coupling has several advantages. It is compatible with the ESP so the car’s safety systems continue to work. It can help increase ABS performance by improved modulation of braking. And torque distribution can be almost instantaneous, whatever the conditions, helping to improve vehicle handling and stability.
The ELD function can be activated manually at speeds lower than 31mph simply by pressing a button behind the gear lever. Doing so enables the braking system to lock the differential gear on the individual axles. It prevents engine torque dropping by inhibiting the traction control (ASR) and it preloads the rear coupling’s hydraulic circuit so that it reacts faster and optimizes take-off from rest in low grip conditions.
The Fiat Panda 4×4 is also equipped with an anti-skid system designed to maximise safety while negotiating descents or turning in low grip conditions. This uses the ABS sensors on the wheels and the engine’s electronic control unit (ECU) to prevent the torque of engine braking locking the rear axle when the car decelerates suddenly.
The two-wheel drive Trekking model features Fiat’s Traction+ traction control system detailed later.
The diesel engine in the Fiat Panda 4×4 has been described as a miniaturised masterpiece of technology. It’s Fiat’s1.3-litre MultiJet 2 and it’s certainly small. Complete with all its ancillaries it tips the scales at a mere 140kg and is less than 60cm long and 70cm high. However it’s big on performance, delivering a maximum power output of 75hp and 190Nm of torque at just 1500rpm, which is up 30 per cent over its predecessor. And it has been optimized for economy and eco-friendliness with CO2 emissions of just 125g/km and official Combined Cycle fuel consumption of 60.1mpg.
Second generation MultiJet technology features faster injectors which can execute multiple injections in rapid succession, giving up to eight injections per cycle. This leads to greater speed, flexibility and precision in the various combustion phases. It permits ‘rate shaping’ which means two injections that are so close together that they generate a continuous but modulated supply of fuel to the cylinders. The ability to do this improves the combustion process which in turn makes for a quieter engine and one that’s more efficient in terms of particulate and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.
A close coupled Diesel Particulate Filter and a built-in Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) system improve the control of temperature and gas flow and guarantee lower emissions plus reduced fuel consumption, enabling the engine to meet strict Euro 5 standards. The injectors also help cut running costs by possessing 40 per cent fewer components than their predecessors.
The Fiat Panda 4×4 and Trekking have been designed to ensure that they remain comfortable and capable performers on the road, while featuring the characteristics of control and ground clearance that are expected of an off-road vehicle.
To cope with these contradictory demands, the Panda 4×4 and Trekking have an independent MacPherson strut suspension at the front and interconnected wheels with a torsion beam layout at the rear. Compared with the semi-trailing arms of the previous generation model, the new rear suspension is lighter and provides better ride and acoustic comfort with no deterioration in off-road performance.
The result is a car that is comfortable for passengers, handles satisfyingly and safely with no surprises, while exhibiting remarkable off-road ability. The ease with which it can handle challenging terrain is graphically demonstrated by its generous ground clearance. The MultiJet 2 version of the Panda 4×4 sits 16cm above the ground while the TwinAir’s ground clearance is a still generous 15cm. The maximum angle of gradient that the Panda 4×4 can approach without any part of its bodywork touching the ground is 20 degrees (MultiJet). The maximum departure angle, or angle of gradient from which it can drive away without touching the ground, is 36 degrees (TwinAir) and its breakover angle at the top of a hill is 20 degrees.
To ensure maximum grip on any surface the Fiat Panda 4×4 features specially developed 175/65 R15 84T M+S tyres.
The Fiat Panda 4×4 has long been viewed as a triumph of function combined with form, and the latest third generation is no different. With a combination of both rational and emotional values, the new Fiat Panda portrays an even stronger vision of utility and personality than its predecessor. With the 4×4 and Trekking versions, Centro Stile Fiat elected to take the regular car and add small details to convey the image of a sophisticated and multi-functional mini SUV.
The look is characterised by emphasising the geometric lines of the front and rear bumpers with aluminium coloured cosmetic inserts. These underline the presence of the skid plates under the body. But they only add a couple of millimetres to the regular Panda’s dimensions, so as to maintain the Panda’s city-friendly proportions. Now 368cm long and 167cm wide, the main dimensional difference is the height. The Panda 4×4 is 5cm taller than the regular version, courtesy of increased ground clearance. The wheelbase of 230cm, front track of 141cm and rear track of 140cm remain the same.
In addition to the special bumpers, there are bespoke door handles and mirror fairings as well as black longitudinal roof bars and protective side strips. All this is finished off with 15-inch smoked (silver on Trekking) burnished alloy wheels, black side skirts and wheel arch mouldings. Two new colours complement the existing colour palette: Sicilian orange and Tuscany green.
The Fiat Panda has always been a byword for versatility, practicality and style. The latest version is built along the same lines, with the 4×4 and Trekking versions using the same highly functional interior as the regular version.
Compared to its predecessor, the dashboard has undergone a radical redesign. Harking back to the first ever Panda it boasts a roomy storage pocket ahead of the front passenger. And there’s a more conventional central locking glovebox in the lower part of the dash. The 4×4 and Trekking models come with a new, higher centre console and can be specified with a new green fascia to frame the instruments and dash storage pocket.
New seat material employs squares that are melded with the backrests in order to improve airflow between the occupant’s back and the seat for improved comfort in warm weather. The 4×4 and Trekking models feature a special design with three colour options: green, beige and pumpkin. Eco leather detailing is also available on the seats, while front and rear door panels can have eco leather inserts.
Clever internal innovations include redesigned door panels, so the speakers can be positioned higher, which in turn improves sound quality and enables the door pockets to be wider and more usable. The handbrake has been redesigned too. Making it shorter has released storage space in front, behind and underneath the lever. In total there are 15 storage spaces: the 14 open and closed bins on the regular model plus an additional console space over the central tunnel.
The new Panda 4×4 has an exceptionally rigid body with 70 per cent of it constructed out of high resistance materials. It also features a third load path which helps control frontal deformation following impacts and reduces the chance of penetration to the passenger compartment by transferring energy to the lower, more resistant parts of the vehicle.
As well as improved rigidity, four airbags come as standard (two front and two window bags) while the front seatbelts feature pretensioners and load limiters. Front seats are equipped with an anti-whiplash system while those in the rear have head restraints as standard.
With five doors, the cabin has been designed to be especially easy to access, ensuring owners can make the most of the available space. Compared with the previous model, the cabin is 20mm longer, 26mm wider at the front and 5mm wider at the rear. New slim seat technology yields 23mm more entry space at the front and 6mm more at the rear. Front seat passengers benefit from improved seat travel which is now an impressive 21cm fore and aft.
The Fiat Panda has always been a versatile vehicle and new features reinforce that. The driver’s seat now has vertical adjustment available while there are also multiple configurations for the rear seats. By sliding the (optional) rear bench into the fully forward position – 16cm of travel – the boot’s capacity is increased from 225 to 260 litres, making it one of the most spacious in its segment. Folding the rear seats down gives a load space of 870 litres, 36 litres more than the previous generation Panda.
Various seat configurations are available as options. The driver’s seat is available with adjustable height while the front passenger seat can be fitted with a fold-down back rest. This creates a table that’s handy for picnics or as a worktop, and with the rear seats folded provides a space that’s more than two metres in length, allowing long loads to be carried.
The rear bench comes in standard two-seater guise with a folding unsplit back rest. But it is also available with the two seats sliding lengthwise, with a 50/50 folding back rest, three seats with folding backrest, and three seats with 60/40 split folding backrest.
Functionality can be further increased with the handy ‘cargo box’. This container lets you stow objects inside it and sits in the boot, butting up against the folding rear seat back to give a flat loading surface.
The new Fiat Panda 4×4 and Trekking have been designed as machines for the modern age; cars that will transport their occupants anywhere in the utmost comfort and keep them in contact with the outside world. As a result they come with an impressive list of standard equipment and a vast range of options and accessories.
On board every Panda 4×4 and Trekking there’s air conditioning, Blue&Me multimedia system, ESP, a CD/MP3 radio, 15-inch alloy wheels with Mud and Snow tyres, electric heated door mirrors, central locking with remote control, and rear head restraints. Options include large car features such as City Brake Control, a sliding rear seat and Blue&Me TomTom2 LIVE.
This system is set to raise the bar in terms of what drivers expect from a city car. CBC is a low speed collision mitigation system that will recognise obstacles in the path of the car and apply the brakes at speeds below 19mph if the driver fails to do so. Depending on the speed and steering angle, the system can either completely avoid a collision or minimise the consequences of an impact.
CBC combines three functions: Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), Prefill, and Brake Assist. The AEB is triggered by a windscreen mounted laser sensor which carefully assesses the position and speed of an obstacle and whether or not it poses a threat. The sensor employs the same principles as those used in astronomy to measure the distance between satellites. The object must be more than 40 per cent of the width of the vehicle and the angle of impact must be less than 30 degrees. As well as applying the brakes automatically, engine torque is reduced if the accelerator pedal hasn’t been released.
AEB works in tandem with Prefill. This primes the braking system to give a quicker response either when the AEB system takes over or in a regular emergency stop. Brake Assist uses sensors to recognise emergency situations and alters the brake pedal’s response to achieve quicker braking in an emergency stop.
Staying connected at the wheel is vital for the vast majority of drivers nowadays, and the Blue&Me infotainment system allows them to do this safely and effortlessly.
Based around Microsoft’s Windows Mobile for Automotive, Blue&Me permits Bluetooth equipped devices such as phones and MP3 music players to be connected to the car’s sound system. Occupants can then take control using voice activation via a display panel that works with a microphone in the roof, or steering wheel mounted buttons. It means drivers don’t need any physical contact with their devices and can keep their hands on the wheel.
Blue&Me is equipped with the latest generation voice recognition system which allows immediate interaction because it doesn’t need a learning phase. Phonebook contents can be shown on the car’s display panel as can track information from music players.
For city traffic driving with total peace of mind, the new Panda can be specified with Blue&Me TomTom2 LIVE. This has all the features of the regular Blue&Me system but is combined with satellite navigation and accurate real time traffic information. Thanks to this, it has the advantages of an ‘infotainment’ system which is integrated and connected to the internet, plus those of a portable navigation device.
The device itself features a 4.3-inch high-definition touch screen display that slots into a robust holder in the middle of the dash. There are no unsightly wires but the device can nonetheless be removed for safekeeping.
At the cutting edge of navigation devices, it features detailed maps of 45 European countries and has the same LIVE services as the latest generation TomToms. This technology enables it to help the user choose the best route by analysing traffic conditions and updating them every two minutes.
Blue&Me TomTom2 LIVE also receives data about the vehicle through the on-board network. It can then provide real-time information about car use and the various devices connected such as the trip computer, mobile phonebook display, media player and eco:Drive.
The eco:Drive system is available on all Fiat cars equipped with Blue&Me and enables users to analyse their skills at the wheel. It then gives tips on how to make their driving more efficient, save money and lower CO2emissions.
The new eco:Drive Mobile is a free smart phone application that enables users to sync the eco:Drive on their car with their mobile phone. By downloading the application, then pairing the phone with Blue&Me and connecting it to the car’s USB port, acceleration, deceleration, gear shifts and speed data can be downloaded. The phone will connect with the eco:Drive server and within seconds, graphs and data related to driving style will be displayed.
The analysis of information taken from the car gives drivers a personal eco:Index between one and 100. Drivers then receive tips on how to improve their performance; it can track trips on a map and even be configured to post results on Facebook or Twitter. This new social element within eco:Drive enables drivers to have fun with other eco:Drive users, providing rankings according to acceleration and economy.
The Fiat Panda has always been at the forefront of innovation so it’s no surprise that Fiat has used it as the basis for a whole new category of car. The Panda Trekking is a City Utility Vehicle aimed at customers who care about style but don’t need a full-time 4×4.
As the link between the regular two-wheel drive Panda and the Panda 4×4, the Trekking has off-road looks with smart front-wheel drive that incorporates Traction+ technology. This allows owners to tackle more adventurous terrain than a regular front-driven car by improving handling on difficult and slippery surfaces courtesy of the innovative traction control system.
Just like the 4×4 version, the Trekking is available with either the 85hp 875cc TwinAir Turbo or the 75hp 1.3-litre MultiJet 2 engines. With their combination of driveability, efficiency and economy allied to Traction+, the Trekking is the perfect solution for drivers who mainly use their cars in the city but want to be able to cope with something more extreme.
As with the 4×4, the Trekking has the Panda’s enormously versatile passenger compartment with various seat adjustments available. Owners also have the option of choosing a new green fascia to frame the instruments and large storage pocket on the dash. The fabric seats are available with a special design in either green, beige or pumpkin and with eco-leather details. Buyers can also specify eco-leather inserts on the front and rear door panels plus a high console over the central tunnel which adds a 15th storage compartment. Excellent visibility is afforded by the extensive glazed areas and this is helped by the high driving position and increased ground clearance.
From a design perspective, the new Panda Trekking follows the visual cues of the 4×4. There are the marked geometric lines on the front and rear bumper, door handles and mirror fairings, roof bars and protective side strips plus black side skirts and wheel arch mouldings. The only cosmetic differences are the aluminium instead of smoked alloy 15-inch wheels and the black rather than silver skid plates front and rear. As with the 4×4, the Trekking is also available in two new body colours: Sicilian orange and Tuscany green.
What really distinguishes the Trekking from regular two-wheel drive Pandas is the standard Traction+. This innovative traction control system improves handling on difficult and slippery terrain but costs far less than conventional four-wheel drive.
Traction+ uses the advanced hardware present on cars equipped with Electronic Stability Program (ESP) to brake spinning wheels and transmit torque to the wheels with better grip. It can be activated by pressing a button on the dashboard at speeds of up to 18.6mph. By using special algorithms to control and manage the braking system, the control unit can simulate the behaviour of a self-locking electromechanical differential. Thanks to optimised software and having force applied through the normal hydraulic braking circuit, Traction+ is much more progressive than conventional systems and is also lighter.
Consider starting on a surface where there are different grip levels between right and left sides. Without Traction+ enabled, the differential transmits the same torque to both front wheels. All that happens is the lowest grip wheel slips and spins and there isn’t enough torque to get the vehicle moving. But press the Traction+ button and more torque is transferred to the wheel with the better grip, allowing the vehicle to pull away properly.
By using the same 175/65 R15 84T tyres as the Panda 4×4 and with the same increased ground clearance, the Trekking is at ease on challenging terrain. As with the Panda 4×4, the maximum departure angle from which it can drive away, without touching the ground, is 35 degrees and its breakover angle at the top of a hill is 19 degrees (MultiJet). The Trekking’s maximum approach angle without any part of it touching the ground is 20 degrees (MultiJet).
The Panda is a significant part of the Fiat story and the 4×4 version is an important chapter within that. The original Panda 4×4 was launched in June 1983. As the world’s first small transverse engined production car to have all wheels driven, it was years ahead of its time.
In that original model, the bodyshell was reinforced and the four-wheel drive system was manually selected. The car also featured an ultra-low first gear for off-road driving. In normal road conditions drivers started in second gear, while fifth had the same ratio as fourth in the regular model.
To demonstrate the new car’s capabilities, it took part in a series of off-road rallies. More than 50 Panda 4x4s competed in the Rome-Tunis-Abidjan African off-road rally in 1985. And four years later the car represented Italy in the 14,000-mile re-enactment of the legendary Beijing-Paris Rally through 11 countries.
After covering more than 750,000 miles of testing in settings as diverse as the frozen tracks of Lapland where the temperature drops to 40 degrees below zero, and beneath the scorching South African sun, the second generation Panda 4×4 was introduced in 2004.
To prove the new model’s capabilities, a pair of Panda 4x4s took part in a daring drive that began in Kathmandu (Nepal) and ended at Mount Everest’s base camp. It was the first time that a small off-road vehicle had reached this base at an altitude of 5200 metres. What made the feat even more extraordinary was that the only modifications were to the engine control unit calibration to adapt it to local fuel.
In 2007 two Pandas were entered in the gruelling Dakar Rally raid. Although the cars featured spare wheels, water reserves for the crew and sand ladders, they were essentially standard models, complete with 1.3-litre MultiJet turbo diesel engines.
The third generation model has big wheel tracks in which to follow.