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Parkers overall rating: 3 out of 5 3.0
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Spacious, practical city car, but feeling its age now

Fiat Panda (12 on) - rated 3 out of 5
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PROS

  • Cute exterior design
  • Improved interior finish
  • Excellent TwinAir engine

CONS

  • Lowest possible Euro NCAP score in 2018 re-test
  • Thick windscreen pillars compromise visibility
  • Not as fun to drive as some of its rivals

PROS

  • Cute exterior design
  • Improved interior finish
  • Excellent TwinAir engine

CONS

  • Lowest possible Euro NCAP score in 2018 re-test
  • Thick windscreen pillars compromise visibility
  • Not as fun to drive as some of its rivals

Verdict

This third-generation Fiat Panda certainly means business, although it lags behind key rivals such as the Citroen C1, SEAT Mii and Skoda Citigo in a number of areas, not least safety.

The first generation was launched back in 1980, and to date the two generations prior to this model have sold more than 6.4 million units worldwide. In this time it has cemented a reputation as one of the cheapest-to-run small cars on the market.

Fiat Panda Trekking side elevation

More attractive this time around, it has a more rounded look to the exterior while the interior feels much more grown-up with an improved finish. It has also grown in size meaning that there is more luggage space than before. Then there’s the choice of the excellent TwinAir petrol or MultiJet diesel engines. Both offer low running costs with surprisingly good performance.

Fiat Panda: zero-star Euro NCAP rating in 2018

When it was first tested by Euro NCAP in 2011, the Fiat Panda scored four stars, and even received a safety award from the organisation in 2013

Rightly so, safety standards improve as new cars are launched and Euro NCAP's testing regime moves with the times. However, as the Fiat Panda's development from a safety perspective remained relatively static, it was inevitably going to receive a lower score when it was re-tested in 2018.

READ: are Euro NCAP crash-test results all that they seem?

What's a shock is in that 2018 re-assessment, Euro NCAP judged the Fiat Panda to be a zero-star car. Is it a less safe city car than many of its newer rivals? Yes, but it's not less safe than it was when launched.

Fiat Panda Trekking front three-quarter

However, poor Euro NCAP is damaging to a model's reputation, and given Fiat has similar form with the Punto receiving an almost identical downgrade, we expect in 2019 there'll either be a suite of safety-related enhancements, or it'll be quietly dropped from sale. 

Improved Fiat Panda interior

The Fiat Panda is all about practicality and in the past it has left the style and charm to its more glamorous sister, the 500. Now, however, the Panda has more than dash of style and appeal itself thanks to a cabin that is not only roomy but slickly designed.

Fiat Panda dashboard

The main dials in the dash have a hint of retro look, whole the rest of the dash has a clear-cut, more grown up feel about it. It’s also made from sturdy plastics and materials that are pleasing to the eye and touch. With all of this as well as the Panda’s generous space for passengers and luggage, it makes the Fiat one of the leaders in the city car sector.

The Parkers VerdictThe Parkers Verdict

As a city car, the compact Panda is fairly good to drive thanks to its light steering and controls. However, the Ford Ka+ and Volkswagen Up are both more entertaining and handle corners with greater agility and enthusiasm than the Fiat, though the Panda exhibits very little body roll in bends.

Approaching corners, the Panda doesn’t nip into them with the same alacrity as the Ford or VW, which is what holds the Panda back from being considered in the same breath as these models for driving pleasure. Has the Panda still got what it takes to tackle newer, seemingly safer rivals?

Fiat Panda Trekking rear three-quarter

Read the full Fiat Panda review to find out if this is still one of the best small cars you can buy