Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

Two engines are available to propel the Fiat Panda 4×4 and new Panda Cross on and off-road. The petrol 84bhp 0.9 TwinAir Turbo is the most characterful engine in the line-up. With its throaty two-cylinder whine it is instantly recognisable and it is mated to a six-speed gearbox. Fiat Panda 4×4 performance is relative for a car of this size and stature: this version of the 4×4 has a top speed of 103mph and can complete the 0-62mph benchmark sprint in 12.1 seconds, which isn’t bad for a 4×4 city car.

The TwinAir Turbo has 40% more pulling power than the 1.2-litre Fire of the previous generation. This, in combination with the special six-speed gearbox with shortened first gear, ensures much easier uphill starts, improved flexibility and quicker pick-up. The 145Nm of pulling power makes the TwinAir quite lively and you can overtake slower traffic with relative ease.

For diesel lovers there is a 74bhp 1.3 MultiJet II unit. It completes the benchmark sprint in 14.5 seconds and has a top speed of 98mph. A similar improvement is evident on the MultiJet II engine, where torque is increased by 30% on the previous generation of the 4×4 with a similar diesel engine. This engine has 190Nm of pulling power making overtaking on single-lane carriageway fairly simple although you will need to work the gears just like the Twin Air version.

The Fiat Panda 4×4 is a bit more cumbersome when cornering than the normal Panda. This is largely down to its taller stance – it is raised by 47mm (and the Panda Cross further still). When driven enthusiastically it will roll and lurch in corners but it is not totally unruly.

The steering is direct but it could be a bit better weighted. There’s also a ‘city’ button to make the steering lighter – great for parking and when you are negotiating crowded city streets.

The Panda has reasonable handling but other more conventional city cars are more fun to drive.