1980: Fiat Panda I
The original Panda was very much a product of 1980, with square, boxy styling and a utilitarian interior. Just one engine was available - a 0.9-litre four-cylinder with 45 horsepower. Named partly in honour of Empanda, the Roman goddess of travellers, the Panda cost just £2,860 when it arrived in the UK in 1981. The range grew throughout the ‘80s, with a 4x4 version joining the ranks in 1984, while the car was facelifted slightly in 1986. In total, the first-generation Panda remained in the UK for 14 years, but it soldiered on elsewhere until 2003.
2003: Fiat Panda II
In the year Jonny Wilkinson drop-kicked England to the Rugby World Cup, the Panda’s eight years of exile were over, and the second-generation model came to the UK. Replacing the Seicento and with prices starting at £6,295, the five-door hatchback came with a choice of 1.1- and 1.2-litre engines, and you could even have an automatic. It all sounds very run-of-the-mill, but the Panda was voted Car of the Year in 2004, and its ‘Fiat Mini’ platform went on to underpin the Fiat 500, Ford Ka and Lancia Ypsilon.
2005: Fiat Panda II 4x4
By 2005, Fiat had decided the Panda needed a little more versatility, so a more rugged four-wheel-drive version arrived. With chunkier bumpers, roof rails and side mouldings, not to mention increased ground clearance, Fiat was resurrecting the concept of an honest-to-God, go-anywhere city car.
2006: Fiat Panda 100HP
A year later, Fiat once again showed the Panda’s versatility by taking a very different direction. Dubbed the Panda 100HP, it was the sporty version, getting motorsport-inspired bumpers and flared wheel arches. There are no prizes for guessing how much power the 1.4-litre petrol engine produced. In the four years it was on sale in the UK, the 100HP became a bit of a cult hero, and is often seen as quite desirable.
2012: Fiat Panda III
While London was preparing for the 2012 Olympic Games, Fiat was launching the third-generation Panda. Arriving in February with prices from £8,900, the city car came with a choice of petrol and diesel engines, with power outputs from 68 bhp to 84 bhp. Using the same platform as its predecessor, the styling became more bulbous, with chunky “squircles” everywhere.
2012: Fiat Panda III 4x4
Following the success of all-wheel-drive models in the previous Panda ranges, Fiat wasted no time bringing both a 4x4 and Trekking version of the Panda to the UK. As before, the 4x4 came with larger bumpers, increased ground clearance and skid plates. The all-paw Panda was an instant hit, winning TopGear Magazine’s SUV of the Year award.
2014: Fiat Panda Cross
Based on the popular 4x4 model, the Panda Cross was launched in 2014, bringing holed skid plates, revised lights and model-specific 15-inch alloy wheels. Hill descent control was fitted, too, and three driving modes were included for extra all-terrain capability. Included in the £15,945 starting price was also a six-speed manual gearbox with a ‘crawler’ first gear, while customers got a choice of 89 bhp petrol or 79 bhp diesel power.
2020: Fiat Panda Hybrid
Combining a 1-litre 69 bhp petrol engine with a 12-volt belt-integrated starter generator, the Panda has gone mild-hybrid. The starter generator harvests energy normally lost while decelerating, then uses it to help the petrol engine out while it’s under load. According to the official tests, the system helps the car return 49.6 mpg and CO2 emissions of 89 g per kilometre.
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