Parkers overall rating: 3 out of 5 3.0
  • Two engines to choose from
  • No TwinAir units any more
  • Mild-hybrid petrol saves fuel

Following the launch of a mild-hybrid in 2020, the Panda is available with two engines. The City Cross model gets electrical assistance, while the standard Panda makes do with a normal petrol motor.

Petrol engine

The basic Panda is powered by a 1.2-litre petrol engine with 69hp, and takes 14.2 seconds to accelerate from 0-62mph.

It’s not as punchy as the previously available TwinAir (described below) but does the job around town. Just don’t expect confident acceleration on the motorway.

Mild-hybrid Panda

Arriving in 2020 this three cylinder, 1.0-litre petrol makes 70hp and 92Nm of torque, and takes 14.7 seconds to accelerate from 0-62mph.

In terms of performance it’s not exactly a world away from the non-hybrid engine, but it does boast lower emissions, which we’ve detailed in the Running Costs section.

That’s because it’s got a small battery that can store generated power that would otherwise be lost by braking and deceleration, and use it to stop and start the engine when it’s not needed – while waiting at traffic lights for example.

2020 Fiat Panda driving

It’s not exactly a hybrid in the same sense a Toyota Prius – you can’t drive it on electric power alone and unlike a plug-in hybrid you can’t recharge it from the mains. What you do get is a decent amount of get up and go from a standstill, and a surprisingly willing sound.

In order to get the most from the hybrid system you have to select neutral from the six-speed manual gearbox when an “N” light is illuminated in the dials. Then the car will coast with the engine off - this feels a bit odd in practise but does work quite well in traffic.

Engines previously available

The 0.9-litre TwinAir Turbo produced 85hp and 145Nm of torque, which was more than enough for zipping in and out of crowded streets. It sprinted from zero to 62mph in 11.2 seconds, and had a top speed of 107mph.

A diesel option was also sold, a 74bhp 1.3-litre Multijet engine, which featured very little diesel clatter on the move with good refinement, even when pushed. Its performance figures were average: completing the benchmark sprint in 12.8 seconds with a top speed of 104mph.

Handling

  • Steering slower and not as direct as rivals
  • City button makes the steering even lighter
  • An easy thing to navigate in a congested city

At low speeds, the Panda tends to turn less sharply than you'd hope, but the steering is precise enough to help place the car and in general it handles quite well.

There is less body roll than you would expect from a car with such a high shape. There’s also a ‘city’ button to make the steering lighter, great for parking and when you are negotiating tight spaces.

Even without this button pushed, the Panda is pretty easy to drive, with light controls that take the work out of driving it across a congested city or manoeuvring in a multi-storey car park.

The Panda is fairly good to drive, in that it’s not punitively bad but not exactly a hot hatch. Enthusiasts will be better served by a slightly larger Ford Fiesta, but for urban use the Panda is easy to get on with.