Fiat Panda Cross review 2014

Fiat is adding to its stylish and versatile Panda range with yet another addition – the Panda Cross. It combines the slick styling of an SUV with the no nonsense off-road capability of an off-roader.

Sitting alongside the standard Fiat Panda city car and the Panda 4×4, the new Cross will give the Panda name an extra string to its bow. It’ll help it to compete with other city-venturing models like the recently launched Peugeot 108. The Fiat Panda Cross starts from just £15,945.

Exterior

On the outside is where the Panda Cross gets its standout features. Exterior niceties include a front-mounted skid plate, larger all-season tyres, front fog lights, electric folding heated mirrors, a new headlight arrangement, two tow hooks for added capability and a reworked rear bumper with underbody protection.

Not only do these changes make it more competent off-road, but they also add distinctive flair to the model, much like an SUV.

Interior

Standard interior equipment on the new Fiat Panda Cross is very extensive. All models feature USB connectivity, Blue & Me Bluetooth system, automatic climate control and a unique copper-coloured dashboard design.

When it comes to practicality, the Panda Cross’s high roof results in plenty of head room for passengers. There is also plenty of leg room for rear passengers, which make longer journeys hassle free.

The boot comes with 225 litres of space, which means it is perfect for fitting in the weekly shop or several rucksacks.

On the road

When you take the Panda Cross out on the road, or off it in this case, it really comes into its own and drives like a much bigger car.

Part of the Panda Cross’s upgrades is a slight bump up in power of its two engines available. Included is the 0.9-litre TwinAir turbo petrol unit mated to a six-speed manual gearbox and a 1.3-litre MultiJet II turbodiesel mated to a five-speed manual transmission.

Each powertrain gets an additional 5bhp over the standard Panda, which means the TwinAir now produces 90bhp and the MultiJet II 80bhp.

There is also plenty of pulling power from both engines, with the petrol offering 145Nm of torque and the diesel offering 190Nm of torque.

To really give the Panda Cross an off-road personality, it comes equipped with Fiat’s sophisticated Torque-on-Demand system. This is capable of distributing optimum torque to each of the wheels when it is needed most.

For example, if three of the wheels are slipping, torque will be distributed to those wheels to give extra traction.

There are also several driving modes to choose from, each offering different driving characteristics.

First mode is Auto, which is a front-wheel drive configuration aimed at soft-road driving. Then there is Off-road, which engages all four wheels and gives added traction.

The final driving mode is Hill Descent. This clever setting is capable of taking control of the car when descending a steep slope, making it roll slowly down until it reaches level ground.

Verdict

If you are prone to city venturing but want something that can give you the freedom to explore, then the Fiat Panda Cross is right on the money.

Not only does it have the snug dimensions of a city car and the style of an SUV, but its off-road credentials are second to none in the A segment.