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Fiat Panda engines, drive and performance

2012 onwards (change model)
Performance rating: 3.5 out of 53.5

Written by Tom Wiltshire Published: 25 January 2022 Updated: 5 May 2023

  • Mild hybrid engine
  • Five-speed manual gearbox
  • Speed demons apply elsewhere

There’s only one engine to choose from, a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol unit with mild hybrid technology. It uses a small battery and a combined starter/generator to give it a bit of a boot from a standstill and to enable the stop/start system to work more effectively.

If you select Neutral when an ‘N’ light is illuminated in the dials, it will also coast safely with the engine off. But it doesn’t feel as seamlessly integrated as the Suzuki Ignis’ system, nor does it return anywhere near such good fuel economy.

What’s it like to drive?

  • Panda excels in the city
  • Handles well for a tiny car
  • Slow and numb steering means it’s not a pleasure, though

Fiat’s built the Panda to be the ultimate city car and for the most part it delivers. Its suspension is rugged enough to make short work of speed bumps and big potholes and the feather-light steering (lightened even further with the application of the ‘City’ button on the dashboard) means manoeuvres are effortless.

No wonder it’s so popular with Italian city-dwellers. We think the Volkswagen Up and Hyundai i10 are both better to drive, though.

Fiat Panda handling
The Panda’s steering is feather-light.

There’s less body roll than you’d expect from a car with such a high shape, but don’t expect sporty handling. Even the models with bigger sportier looking wheels get no more power or suspension changes.