A consummate off-roader, able to get you out of a tight spot when the going gets tough. But also a nimble vehicle that can easily weave in and out of city traffic. This, in brief, is the dual personality of the Panda Cross that adds an extra sprinkle of sporting style to the Panda 4x4 range to make it a fashionable choice.
Born for enjoyment and capable of making even the most world-weary youngster sit up and take notice, the new version created to head the Panda four-wheel drive range confirms itself as a vehicle packed with personality. The car is also sturdy and good looking, with all the attributes and qualities encoded in the DNA of any Fiat: innovative design, cutting-edge technology accessible to all and clever solutions to make life simpler and better. These winning qualities are recognisable from the original Panda model that celebrated its milestone of 500,000 units produced in the Tychy plant (Poland) on 7 October earlier this year.
Not to mention the fact that, though destined mainly for European markets, the various versions of the Panda are also sold in countries such as Malaysia, Taiwan or the Island of Martinique; 1831 units are currently being driven on the roads of Japan. The Panda model is also the second biggest selling vehicle in Italy after the Fiat Punto. Since it was first introduced on the market, it rapidly rose up the league table in segment A to reach first place in the Italian and European top ten. Its commercial success is confirmed by the 18 prizes it has received from the international trade press, including the prestigious 'Car of the Year 2004'.
This public and critical success rewards, above all, the extraordinary ability of the Panda design to extend into new versions: the tiny 'up for anything' 4x4, the funky Alessi version, the entertaining Panda Active and the well-appointed Panda Emotion - not to mention the competitive Panda Rally and a host of concept cars created on the same base.
Now comes the turn of the Panda Cross, which is due to go on sale in Italy from the beginning of 2006 and later in other countries.
The Panda is not merely a segment A supermini but an authentic platform on which Fiat is creating an entire family with the sort of engineering and attention to detail you would expect from a higher category car.
Unique style born out of a marriage of sportiness and elegance
The Panda Cross is aimed at young customers who live life in the fast lane and immediately conveys an idea of freshness and fun plus solidity and sturdiness. It also guarantees driving satisfaction and arouses a will to live life to the full and satisfy your desires to travel in complete freedom.
The styling of the new version is similar to that of larger off-roaders while presenting all the advantages that only a compact vehicle can offer.
The Panda Cross thus combines elegant features with sporty traits to create a product with a strong aesthetic personality: roof bars, chunky side strips, big headlamps and wide bumpers. The new vehicle is also outstanding for an off-road performance typical of an SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle). The car can overcome any difficulty with its small size and four wheel drive (4x4 system with viscous coupling) and its locking differential (a feature more typical of higher segments that ensures the optimum distribution of drive torque to the wheels with the best grip on the ground). Apart from all this, it is small enough to go anywhere you want: the car measures 358 centimetres long, 161 centimetres wide, 164 centimetres high (160 without the bars) with a wheelbase of 230 cm.
Inside, the Panda Cross offers a distinctive and sophisticated interior that benefits from special fabric trims in three two-tone colour schemes: sand/black, sand/green and orange/black. The new 4x4 version also retains the big luggage capacity that has always been one of the strengths of this model. With the one-piece or split rear seat folded down, the space increases from a minimum of 200 to a maximum of 855 dm3 (measured to the roof). If the rear seat is split and also slides, the figures are 230 dm3 (with the seat fully forward) and 780 dm3 respectively.
The engineering of a consummate off-roader
The Panda Cross is a car of huge personality that will be able to satisfy customers with different needs and tastes, including the growing number of drivers who seek adventure and an open-air life. Like the other Panda 4x4s, the new version offers such customers a permanent four wheel drive system with a viscous coupling and two differentials that come into play automatically when required to tackle sticky situations. For the first time in the Panda 4x4 range, this vehicle is fitted as standard with an electronic differential lock with LD (Locking Differential) function that acts at speeds below 30 km/h to brake slipping wheels and transfer torque to the other wheels on the same axis: on take-off, for example, and over snowy, icy or muddy roads - and on all occasions when the wheels do not grip to the same extent. The 4x4 supermini boasts excellent driving comfort due to its tried and tested suspension layout with specific settings. At the front, the suspension is independent, MacPherson type with lower wishbones linked to a subframe and an anti-roll bar connected to the shock absorber. The rear suspension is also independent with longitudinal tie rods connected to a specific frame with anti-roll bar.
1.3 Multijet, a record-breaking power unit
People often buy a supermini to ensure low overall running costs. The Panda Cross does not disappoint on this score: the new model is powered by a 70 bhp 1.3 16v Multijet engine, the best automotive engineering can offer in the small turbodiesel field. Fiat was the first to introduce power units with Multijet technology to the mini sector and also the first to make this engineering heritage available to 4x4 minis. This product is effective around town and also for rural trips while satisfying Euro 4 emission limits. In detail, the 1.3 16v Multijet unit develops a maximum power of 70 bhp (51 kW at 4000 rpm) and a torque of 14.8 kgm (145 Nm at 1500 rpm) and is combined with a five-speed manual gearbox with reduced dimensions and an outstandingly manoeuvrable selection lever. A Panda Cross equipped with this unit can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 18 seconds and reach a top speed of 150 km/h.
Comfort, equipment and safety typical of a higher segment vehicle
Although its appearance suggests the solidity typical of a higher segment, the Panda Cross is a real supermini. Petite exterior dimensions are a valuable quality in a car that undoubtedly numbers 'city car' among its attributes. The new version is about much more than this. For example, it boasts an overall passenger room coefficient of more than 68%, one of the best in the supermini category. And more: the suspension layout also ensures great handling and driving comfort. The front system is a MacPherson configuration while the rear suspension features interconnected wheels (i.e. semi-independent) with a torsion beam. The Panda Cross is fitted as standard with alloy wheels and 175/65R15 tyres, again to achieve a better balance between handling and comfort.
Apart from driving satisfaction, a Fiat car must also offer on-board well-being. And that means surrounding the driver and passenger with technologies that ensure the very highest comfort standards.
Hence the need to make the interior environment into a cosseting, enveloping living room: the Panda Cross therefore offers as standard a remote control unit, Dualdrive electric steering, electric mirrors, leather steering wheel, passenger side with a pouch on the seat back and a compartment under the seat, electric windows, height-adjustable driver's seat and adjustable steering wheel. Not to mention the fact that the new version offers features that are absolutely unique for this segment, e.g. the revolutionary 70 bhp 1.3 Multijet engine and an electronic differential lock with Locking Differential function. The opulent standard equipment array includes 15" alloys. A long list of options and accessories is also available to express the taste and personality of any customer to the full: for example, you could choose to equip your car with the sophisticated infotelematic system CONNECT Nav Plus, an automatic climate control system and the Sky Dome electric sunroof. The Panda Cross puts an end to the age of faceless mass production as far as superminis are concerned.
The Panda Cross offers an outstanding braking system that guarantees prompt, progressive braking and short stopping distances. The ventilated front discs measure 257x22 mm while the solid rear discs measure 240x11 mm. The Panda Cross offers as standard ABS with EBD complete with an antislip function during deceleration (MSR). As far as passive safety is concerned, the new version is equipped with a double airbag at the front and rear head-restraint. Other features include foglights with a headlight washing system for a higher level of preventive safety in view of the off-road use to which the vehicle will be put.
SUV: the bigger Panda 4x4 range extends the Panda family
The 4x4 SUV version is the icing on the cake of the Panda range. The model chosen as 'Car of The Year 2004' and 'Auto Europa 2004' is the winner of 16 more prestigious international prizes. This critical acclaim has been confirmed by true commercial success: since its launch, more than 450,000 units (front wheel drive and four wheel drive) have been registered in Europe, a result that makes this the biggest selling model in its market band.
If we consider the results for 2005 alone, the Fiat Panda achieved a 35% share of the supermini segment with sales of 160,000 in Europe (in Italy it exceeded 45% with approximately 100,000 units delivered). And more: in 2005, the European sales mix favoured the Dynamic specification (38% with 1.2 Fire engine and 11% with 1.3 Multijet engine), followed by the Active (17%) and the extremely well-appointed Emotion (9.5% in the petrol version and 5% in the diesel version). The best equipped of the 4x4 versions (1.2 4x4 Climbing) did best of all, accounting for nearly 12% of total model sales. It should also be stressed that the Panda 4x4 is the biggest-selling four-wheel drive in Italy, recording 15,000 sales between January and September 2005.
The Panda family is all set to grow and strengthen this leadership: in September, for example, we will see the sales launch of a Fiat Panda 4x4 equipped with the revolutionary 70 bhp 1.3 16v Multijet engine, the smallest and most advanced second generation direct injection common rail diesel power unit. The Panda Alessi will also be available throughout Europe from January 2006. This new version was born out of cooperation between Fiat and Alessi, two brands famous throughout the world for their contribution to the development of Italian industrial design. Now comes the turn of the Panda Cross that will take its place at the top of the Panda four wheel drive range, which already includes the Panda 4x4 (a quintessentially practical application of the vehicle) and the Panda 4x4 Climbing (the small and elegant off-roader able to tackle any situation with an extra touch of interior and exterior sophistication).