Let’s imagine a rainy winter day, that kind of a day that you would be happy to pass on your couch watching TV. Outside the window you can see your white or gray compact car, which can lead you to the mall with your wife or girlfriend but nothing more. Imagine now yourself to look at the same window and watching a Fiat Panda Cross, with its yellow color that shines in a rainy day. Let’s have fun! Once you have driven your wife or girlfriend at the mall don’t go with them but unleash the real power of the Fiat Panda Cross in search of adventure.
I assure you that the rainy winter day will become really different. Let’s see how and why! Already aesthetically you can see the differences with a normal Fiat Panda and also with the 4X4 model. From whatever angle you look at it makes you really want to own one. Well finished, alloy wheels, the M+S tires comes as standard, a large plate surrounds the lower part of the front, very nice (and in some cases even useful) coupling hooks, fog lights mounted on the top, just below the headlights.
Even the style of the interiors has a touch of personality. The interior gives you a feeling of quality and accuracy. Reguarding the body paint believe that the color can be only one! Yellow is the perfect color for this Panda Cross. Its really stands out among the other composed and sober cars. For some reasons it does not even look like a Panda, it seems something more. The price of the Fiat Panda Cross is not cheap for sure, EUR 20,000 to be precise, an high price for a Fiat Panda.
With the Cross version there’s a lot more than the standard, in fact, the extra inches in height, to be precise 9 mm more, make it pleasant to drive in the urban jungle. Speaking of comfort it has the optimal height for getting in and out from the driver seat. Bumps, potholes, cobblestones, are things of which you can safely forget thanks the perfect chassis with high side tires, ready to defeat any road bumps. The high driving position offers a good external view.
The car of this Test Drive is equipped with the twin-cylinder 900cc TwinAir petrol engine. I really like this engine. In the city you can drive with the “ECO” button ON, the performances are poor but you have a very low power consumption. Without the “ECO” mode instead, thanks to the 90 hp, acceleration are very good.
The sound of the TwinAir makes you want to pull the gears, even if, over 5000 rpm, comes to the rev limiter. If you drive in a twisty road is not the perfect car for sure but it isn’t as bad as you may expect. If you ask too much at this car the electronic controls will be engaged, the behavior of the car is strongly understeering and the M + S tires are certainly made for driving full attack.
Gearbox and steering are good for the driving behaviour of the Fiat Panda Cross. The gearbox not appreciate fast gear changes. The upshift gear change is to be performed rather slowly because of the inertia in descending speed that characterizes the two-cylinder TwinAir. The steering is very light, good in the city but not so communicative in the curves. Overall is nice to drive, thanks to the two-cylinder petrol engine, and is safe in the march, something important given the category to which it belongs. So we left our partner or wife at the mall and we are looking for adventure. This is where the Fiat Panda Cross gives her best, where justifies its price difference and imposes its exclusivity than regular city cars.
Where the asphalt ends her habitat starts. Is a terrific fun car just waiting to be “soaked” in the mud to get even more aesthetically appealing. This car have to face with his history, the first Fiat Panda 4X4, extremely simple and spartan but literally unstoppable, is still in the heart of off-road enthusiasts. With the Panda Cross we are not at the same level, but close enough.
The approach angle is 24 ° and the output angle is 34°, enough to cope with very uneven terrain. The ground clearance is rather less effective than you think. In the most extreme passages it is easy to touch, because of the rather low mounted exhaust. The real new toy lies between gearbox and handbrake: is the Terrain Control (or Drive Mode Selector).
This switch allows you to choose three different settings of the permanent all-wheel drive according to the situation to be addressed. In Standard position (AUTO), the Fiat Panda Cross behaves like a normal front-wheel drive, the rear wheels receive more traction only when necessary. The off-road position instead, inserts 50:50 AWD up to a speed of 50 km/h. Finally the last position, Hill Descent Control (HDC) or Gravity Control, acts on the brakes for optimal control of the car.
You can then play the a lor, get in the mud without fear, and overcome inclinations up to 60%, all with great ease. Furthermore, in contrast to the 1.3 Multijet engine, the TwinAir is equipped with six-speed gearbox with the first gear that helps in Off-Road. Thanks to this feature it is easy to disengage from the most critical situations. The only flaw is perhaps the inability to turn off the stability control. Without the ESP it would certainly be more fun and effective on off-road paths.
Overall, however, off-road performances ar really very good. Do you want a real proof of what the Panda Cross is cable of? The answer came in these days! Cabini and Verzeletti managed to cross the finish line of the Dakar 2017 onboard the Fiat Panda Cross.
Conclusions? The price is high, but given the very cute aesthetic combined with what she can make out from the asphalt, we can say that is largely justified. Hard to find a car that is able to combine utility and fun as the Fiat Panda Cross. It is ready to take you to work every day and looking for adventures in Dakar style when you want it. Do not forget something important! At the end of the adventure remind to take your wife or girlfriend at the mall where you left her.
Text: Leonardo Stefani
Photos: Edoardo Mascalchi