This ain't no Multipla. The Multipla (mk1) was so ugly it was a funny kind of beautiful (in the natural world, you might say the same about a hippo or a toad). On the inside, it was simply brilliant as a people-carrier.
The new FIAT Panda Cross comes to the UK in September, just in time for a “64” numberplate, and is looking to add a bit of fashion pizazz to the utilitarian nature of the original Panda 4x4. Fiat's Panda Cross: out in the wild but not on sale until September Everyone agrees on the looks. They are “interesting” and “brave”. …
The last Multipla in pre-face lift form was incredbly marmite in looks, but also a very capable 6 seater load lugger. I had one for a few years as a run around, quite happilly did distance driving with large rugby players inside who were not scrunched up while carrying kit in the boot (you can get suitacases in upright without having to dro a seat).
It really did mix opinions amongst my friends, some loved it's quirky external looks, others hated the it - one even nicknamed mine the Uglipa.
"80Bhp is 30Bhp more than most land rovers had up until the late 80s, and no one with more than a single braincell would say they were bad offroad!"
BHP is power, not torque. Power is the rate of doing work, torque is (if you like) how much work can actually be done. Diesels have lower power and higher torque than petrol engines, and consequently have lower maximum speeds but far better pulling power than petrol engines.
Having said that, diesel Landies always had the reputation for being unable to pull the skin off a rice pudding, so the difference is probably moot.
I believe you will find that you can convert any amount of power to any amount of torque by introducing a suitable ratio of reduction gearing. I mean that quite literally. Any.
Put another way, 100 kW / 10 N-m can deliver exactly the same torque to the wheels as 100 kW / 1000 N-m. All you do is select a different gear ratio.
By the same token, you can reach exactly the same top speed using a 100 kW 2400 rpm diesel as you can using a 100 kW 7200 rpm petrol engine. All you do is select a different gear ratio.
Torque champions are not wrong per se. They just miss that it is torque at the wheel that matters, not torque at the engine.
I remember Fifth Gear did a extreme off road test of the Mk2 4x4 Panda against a top of the range Range Rover a few years ago.
They found it could do around 95% of what the mega bucks Range Rover could do. The main thing holding it back was it's wheelbase wasn't as long as the Range Rover.
i always thought that short wheel base was an advantage off road as you're less likely to get stuck on a hump.
How does the Panda's level ground clearance compare with a modern Range Rover's pathetic clearance?
On another point in the article, I'm not impressed by the twin towing points on the front. What owning a Land Rover taught me was that you need a front winch or capstan to pull yourself out of trouble.
I had a FIAT once back in the days where most cars only had a one year warranty, The engine exploded about a week out of warranty (fully main dealer serviced I should add) and I ended up paying the best part of £2000 to get it sorted - FIAT just weren't interested. I vowed I'd never buy another one on principle which is a shame because it looks like they are making some nice motors these days.
Fiats are better than ever...
Mate of mine got a 1 year old punto from a licensed Fiat Dealer in early February. Engine blew up a fortnight later and he is still driving the courtesy car today, which ironically is a Renault not a Fiat. He's not the sort to drive stupidly either and it is just for going from A to B. They keep fobbing him off when he rings up and he is more than happy with his courtesy car, so he's not actively perusing it, but he may have just been unlucky with the car
I've had a combination of Italian and German cars over the years. To date only one of the Italians (an at the time ten year old punto) needed a new ignition coil and my current car (an Alfa company car) has only had a slightly over flappy sun visor as a black mark.
Of the German cars (all company cars) all have developed faults, with two VWs requiring new engines and clutches.
The good thing about Italian cars is that you expect them to break down so when they don't its a nice treat, whereas the overhyped reputation of German vehicles disappoint with their fallibility.
"but he may have just been unlucky with the car"
I doubt that, Fiat came 24 out of 26 UK car brands in the latest JD Power survey, and one of the two lower brands (Alfa) is also part of the Fiat Chrysler group. Those who rightly wish to laugh at Italian mass-car making craftsmanship may wish to consider that Fiat Chrysler is incorporated in the Netherlands, but tax domiciled in the UK, so maybe they are the spiritual successors to British Leyland.
Sure, they are 24 out of 26...but that is not the whole story. The larger story is that EVERY motor maker (bar the Chinese at present) is VASTLY more reliable than they were 20 and even 10 years ago. So a 24th scoring maker now is way up on where the mid-level was 20 years ago, and probably pretty close to where the mid-point was even 10 years ago...while having a lot more features and toys. The fact that they are not quite as good as the best today doesn't mean an automatic horror story, as was usually the case in previous decades. And I say that as someone who is a Land Rover devotee...which no sane person would be if we just went by JD Powers scores.
I used to have the previous Cross - fantastic everywhere. Great round town, happy along European motorways, and truly awesome off road and in the snow. Note: Not awesome for its size - plain awesome. And I'm writing this as a guy who has driven tractors, Land Rovers and Land Cruisers.
There's a reason why you still see farmers delivering bales of hay halfway up an Alp in a 1980s original.
I just can't decide on the petrol or diesel. Or afford either....
You don't want a diesel if you live anywhere near London as they will soon be outlawed inside the M25 if Boris has his way, unless you pay a kings ransom to enter the hallowed lands inside the M25 that is....
I will admit that the air quality in the Metropolis can be pretty bad especially on days where there is no wind but to single out even modern diesels is just plain silly.
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Er no they don't
Well they do, but it doesn't matter any more.
If you remove them, you fail the MOT, but the key part from the text (and apologies for linking to something associated with the national nazi daily fail)
"Modern diesel cars come fitted with a DPF as part of European rules which came into force five years ago, but some motors have had them for nearly two decades."
So with that DPF fitted, the Diesel is better for you than the Petrol....
You DO want a diesel, but only if it runs ok on Biodiesel. There are more and more biodiesel fuelling points popping up around London, and this stuff reduces your emissions down to negligible levels.
Only thing you need to watch out for is getting the fuel filter cleaned regularly.
(Which is why I drive a '93 Hilux Surf, as it runs perfectly on Biodiesel and is fairly economical)
It's going to be interesting for hire car companies to see what they do. I get no choice of engine just car class when renting a car. maybe they will charge extra for petrol specification. although to be honest if I go to London the last ting I want is a car. Public transport is the best choice for my commute in the Big Smoke.
We bought the original after I saw one climb what looked like a near vertical hill farm on a trip to Italy. The only problem was the poor fuel consumption. In its time with us it waded fords, bounced off rocks and acquired a number of dents which it wasn't worth repairing. The only thing that went wrong was a particle of grit which somehow got into the carb slow jet and caused much confusion before I dismantled the entire carb.
"The Register gets more like Top Gear all the time!"
But top gear hardly ever review normal cars anymore, they are more interested in crazy challenges like trying to fly into space for less than the price of a new Tata Nano or trying to see what happens when beer is sent into the upper atmosphere...oh, I see...never mind, carry on!
Not entirely so. We have a Panda and a Land Rover. We need the landie in winter where we live, but the Panda is half the cost to run.
Re the comments about power - I used to have a Land Rover 110 with a 2.25 diesel. It struggled to get to 60mph - no - it NEVER got to 60mph, but we went playing in Salisbury Plain once, and it left modern 4x4's standing going up impossible inclines etc. The reason is torque, which is far more important than power for those purposes. In fact, thinking about it, when I was a teenager elsewhere on the planet, I had a VW Beetle-based fibreglass beach buggy. The wisdom at the time was never to use the more powerful 1600 engine, because power simply spun the wheels, while the torque of the 1300 made it much more suitable for the purpose.
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In over 30 years of driving I've never needed 4WD, and have only once driven in to floodwater deep enough to cause a car problems (and in that case pushing it back out and waiting an hour or so to dry out was all that was needed). The Top Gear team managed to drive normal 2WD cars across Africa for gods sake. There are few people that really need 4WD.
Grunt is another way of describing torque, and less than 900cc of petrol engine isn't going to have very much of that. There are other, perfectly normal looking, 4WD cars that are favourites in rural areas (Subaru's range for example)
There's always going to be someone who thinks that a given vehicle is ideal for their needs, but I suggest that this one won't have a big following.
"In over 30 years of driving I've never needed 4WD"
So because you don't need it, no one else does? Have you ever been north of Manchester during heavy snow? In just over 12 years of driving, I really have needed 4WD.
I visit my parents in the highlands of Scotland, who live in a little village off a main route. It's nowhere near as remote as some places, as it actually has around 50 houses and a tarmac road going through it, but it gets gritted and/ or ploughed in winter when the council can "fit it in." In bouts of heavy snow, when they have to keep re-doing the main routes before the minor ones, this can take days. The Top Gear team may have driven 2WD cars across Africa, but try driving one down a 3 mile road in a foot or more of snow. You won't get far.
So no, for most of the year lots of people won't need a true 4WD vehicle. But for those who live a little off the beaten track (and there are plenty of them in Scotland, Lancashire and the lakes, many of them not farmers), there are times during winter when they REALLY need 4WD. Running a Land Rover or a Range all year is too costly on fuel, so something like this could do well.
Firstly I didn't say that NO-ONE needed it, just the number of people who ACTUALLY need it is far more limited than you seem to think.
Secondly I was brought up and learned to drive in the North East, on the old Durham/York border. About the first thing I did after passing my test was to drive a route across the North Yorkshire Moors, in thick fog, in a Hillman Imp with a vicious clutch (I'd been volunteered as pit crew for my parents who wanted to do the Like Wake Walk). My route to work used to include driving down a 1 in 4 bank, across a humped back bridge, a right turn and up another 1 in 4. I could manage that in the middle of winter, when it was iced up and I was driving a front wheel drive Talbot. The secret is momentum and smooth driving (there were, I'll admit, many drivers who didn't understand that).
"but try driving one down a 3 mile road in a foot or more of snow. You won't get far."
Bollocks you wont...if you try and drive any car in snow without winter tyres you are a twat anyway, and with winter tyres the vast majority of the Nordic countries manage fine in the winter in their 2WD cars.
I stopped reading after page 1, so haunt me.
1) Being a cyclist who goes cycling in the weekends, why would you need a car? And if not not a car, why a 4x4? A bike ain't heavy, and a bike is perfectly suitable to get you to where you want to go cycling... OK OK... If you want to trek on the other side of the country, that's a bit far...
2) "Haul it up the hill" meaning as in the Fiat is so lightweight, two cables and a bit of leg power will get it uphill? If that's the case, why can't the engine do it? :-D I know...
Have a beer... Or maybe not...
"Haul it up the hill" meaning as in the Fiat is so lightweight, two cables and a bit of leg power will get it uphill?"
Saw a front-wheel drive 2CV trying to climb the 1 in 5 hill at the Stalheim Pass in Norway before they built the tunnel. With the loose gravel surface it was just not moving. In the end it made the ascent - with two passengers sitting on the front to get traction.
It was said of the 1 in 2 Sani Pass in Lesotho that you either used a Land Rover - or a VW Beetle in reverse. To encourage tourists they eventually reprofiled the climb to be less demanding.
front wheel uphill on gravel will suffer, but you can get 4x4 2cv's, I hope the two people on the front were passer by's (all adds to the fun of having a 2cv).
original had 1 engine in the front and another in the boot.
Nowadays they are also made with prop shaft.
I'm from Brazil and I've seen people driving their Unos on a much rougher terrain than that... except they picked up some momentum first, before going an ugly uphill. The car is sturdy, but the gearbox and engine ARE NOT.
Speaking of ugly... yeah, but it beats walking. Use a cap and sunglasses, just in case.
If you ever buy one, slap on it: "My other car is NOT A PIECE OF CRAP."
and we have an acronym of our own for it: "Fui Idiota Agora é Tarde", which translates literally to "I was stupid (to buy this car), now it's too late."
Power isn't everything. The lower power output could be due to using more restrictive components in the exhaust or induction system, potentially improving reliability and/or emissions. It could be as a result of this version of the engine being designed to produce more torque lower down the rev range (suiting an offroader better) or plenty of other reasons to do with cost and packaging (maybe the exhaust has to be higher, for ground clearance, therefor it is more restrictive flow pattern, and hence lower power)
When a spotty oik gets his hands on a device to reprogram the ECU they rarely know what they are really doing, and usually go for headline figures rather than decent performance, having your car produce an extra 15Bhp at 6000Rpm is useless when they have destroyed the power/torque curve at the lower end because you'll rarely get to use it, especially when offroading.
It is actually a good little car!
A bit small with 3 teenagers but as I read the more impressed I was.
My car would probably just about beat it off road (well mine has a green oval on the steering wheel, 5 cylinders and 2 live axles), but it seems to perform pretty well.
yes it is impressive.
If you are worried about the build quality buy one of the Mk2 Pandas, all the MK2s were made in Poland. They made a diesel Cross too, but dont think they sold many in the UK so can be hard to track one down. My current car is one (non 4x4) and its now the car I've owned the longest of the eight cars I've had. All it gets is oil and filters and an MOT every year. However to make up for the boring reliability, I now spend most of my time on a Moto Guzzi ;-)
"it's shorter and narrower than a MINI"
So is a Land Rover Defender 90 - MINIs ain't really a good bench mark for small car size...
Minor quibble aside that looks a pretty capable 4x4 for the money, a lot cheaper than your usual "City Adventurer" suspects (LR, Jeep etc). The video of its performance was surprisingly impressive.
Only issue I can see is if it really is big enough and hard wearing enough to dump all your wet/heavy/grubby kit in without worrying about scratches/stains/smells etc. Do the back seats fold flat to give a bigger loadspace?
Don't get too hung up on the supposedly low power output and its effect on climbing ability.
It's equipped with something called a 'gearbox' which turns low torque/high revs into high torque/low revs. It's almost as if automotive designers had thought about it.
Do your dimensional analysis and you'll see Power = Torque x Revs.
We live in rural Oxfordshire, and with reasonable hills in every direction from here, getting snowed in is not at all unusual. A typical 4X4 is OTT for what we need, but something like this with a decent boot and reasonable economy would be ideal.
We had a Fiat 500L pseudo SUV as a rental car in Canada for 2 weeks and nearly 3000km, and it was great. I imagine this to be similar but with true 4WD.
That'd be the 500L based 500X and it's Jeep cousin the Renegade due out soon.
Not this Panda.
Fiat are producing some good cars and the 500L based ones are really very good.
This baby one should sell well too.
The tech they've brought to bear on DERVs (used by many other manufacturers)
and the peppy 2-cylinder TwinAir petrol is fantastic. More power to them.
I have a massive soft spot for little Fiats, having owned a Seicento Sporting that was fun to drive and cost next to nothing to maintain. Was heartbroken when someone wrote it off in a freak accident.
Anyway, I'd love the Twin Air version of this. In red, of course.
Its different and that alone ups its appeal for me.
I'm now into my 5th 4x4 and I've rarely taken one off road, but once in a rare while I find reason to be thankful :)
I see them as peace of mind, and safer.
The previous 4x4 Pandas have always had strong enthusiast support, and I reckon this one will be no different. Gets my vote
Two comments on this article:
1) a Porsche Cayenne doesn't need to descend a hill. The Cayenne has a magical characteristic called weight that flattens the hill when at the top so that it doesn't need to descend ;)
2) I'd prefer this over the FIAT and the Cayenne: http://youtu.be/wdy8CG09rSU Sit back and enjoy the Vorsprung durch Technik as presented by the mighty Walter Röhrl. Those were the days!
4 x 4s have their uses : here out in the wilds of Worcestershire very many 4 x 4s can be seen prowling ... usually battered L200 pickups rathers than glitzy townie 4 x 4s.
Car wise Discoveries, Range Rovers, Shoguns, Freelanders, Surfs, Suzikis are very common ... and are rarely clean and shiny.
Many locals have their small piece of 'ground' of a few acres. How are they going to carry sheep, goats, bales, feed sacks, equestrian kit, fencing etc without a 4 x4?
(Tractors are overkill for smaller holdings)
Many urban dwellers simply have no idea that there are TWO Englands (or Wales or Scotlands) : the towns and the rural areas.
They are vastly different in character and have very different needs & lifestyles.
In fact the niceness of rural life is a closely guarded secret ... err, oops ...
One thing it is, narrow.
Which means it can get up old mule tracks common in European mountains which very few other 4x4 can start on
I borrowed one to haul climbing and camping gear up to a Spanish mountain hut. No problems, someone with a 4x4 Transit got jammed in between the walls. I have no idea what happened as I just drove through the fields and off.
Great cars. Mk1 and 2 rotted though
Odd to criticise the positioning of the 4wd drive selector the best reason to have it away from the steering wheel is to discourage fiddling, it is not something you should need to use regularly unless you are a Kalahari or Amazon resident. The proof being the dedicated offroad manufacturers place it on the transmission tunnel by default Land Rover, Toyota, Subaru and Isuzu all think its a rather good idea.