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SA’s smallest 4x4 crossover is big on charm (and thirst)...

It’s a big pie, the crossover market, and it’s getting bigger by the day, especially here in South Africa. Hoping to take an admittedly thin slice of this pastry is the new Fiat Panda 4x4 Cross, smartly aimed at those to whom a medium-sized SUV is out of reach. After quietly exiting Fiat’s local line-up in July 2016, a facelifted Panda range has now made its return to our market with four models, all fitted with Fiat’s 875 cm3, two-cylinder engine. This Panda Cross 4x4 certainly looks the part and Fiat’s designers have done a commendable job, both inside and out, in giving the little city car a more adventurous persona.

With trimmings that include roof rails, protruding front foglamps and an interesting punctured grille below the front bumper, its looks encourage you to exit left off the tar road; there are even respectable angles for off-roading (24 degrees for approach; 34 for departure; and a break-over angle of 21 degrees). Inside, the Panda’s rounded-square theme is evident all over, appearing in the design of the steering wheel, air vents and gear knob, to name but three.

There is, however, not much secure space to store your belongings, with narrow door pockets and a small glovebox, albeit with a larger, open storage space above it. Between the two front seats, there are four shallow holders for bottles or small paraphernalia. The cloth seats are comfortable, offering a commanding view from behind the steering wheel, but a few testers complained of an awkward seating position owing to the rake-only steering column always feeling too far away.

As expected from an A-segment hatch, space for rear passengers is limited, with taller staffers struggling to fit behind their own driving position. Headroom throughout is decent, though. While it could do with a larger screen, the Uconnect system offers full Bluetooth functionality. It’s not that intuitive to use and set up, however, requiring commands to be entered either via the steering-wheel buttons or those on the facia.

Quirky doesn’t extend only to this Panda’s design aesthetics, either ... wait until you turn the key. The two-pot is gruff and, judging by the sounds and vibrations it emits, you may well wonder whether you should fill it up with either petrol or diesel. Blipping the throttle won’t clear up the confusion, either. Only a glance at the instrument cluster and the indicated 6 500 r/min red line confirms that it does in fact drink unleaded.

The gearshift action is not the most direct in the segment, but it is light and easy for town driving and the gearlever is perfectly positioned. It does take generous revs to pull away smoothly, and switching to second or third gear requires a beady eye on the rev counter. Let the revs drop below 2 500 r/min and the engine starts to stutter; hold on to a ratio too long and the engine runs abruptly into the limiter shortly after 5 500 r/min (so much for the indicated 6 500 r/min red line).

That gives the powertrain an effective range of 3 000 r/min. However, for such a small-capacity engine – and one operating a permanent all-wheel-drive system – it does have some impressive punch through that band. Thanks to a decent slug of torque, on the highway it is easy to cruise at the national speed limit, although overtaking round this speed is a challenge, even when gearing down.

This, however, is never going to be the Panda’s natural habitat and in city driving it does fare better. Given its all-wheel-drive system and related electronic locking differential, we also headed for gravel roads and some challenging obstacles. The Panda’s soft suspension soaked up imperfections with impressive ease and, even on a relatively challenging axle-twister, the Fiat’s hard- and software (with Terrain Control set to off-road mode) saw it clamber its way to the top of the course. However, since the engine does not appreciate anything less than 2 500 r/min, low-speed manoeuvres are a challenge.

Our biggest issue with the engine aside from its distinct lack of refinement is its heavy drinking habits. Averaging 6,7 L/100 km on our fuel run and never less than 7,0 L/100 km in day-to-day running, it’s a clear sign that downsizing doesn’t always work. On our test strip, we were also disappointed with the Panda’s braking abilities. Despite being fitted with ABS and EBD, the ABS appeared not to activate during our standard testing procedures. Not only did the Panda post an average braking time of 3,35 seconds, but the tyres left long black lines on the tarmac as the wheels locked up. The ABS brakes, however, did function well on gravel roads, which was a little puzzling.
AMAZING little off roader

Manufacturer Specifications

Standard - standard Optional - optional
  • Cloth upholstery: Standard
  • Seats quantity: 5
  • Split rear seat: Standard
  • Folding rear seat: Standard
  • Air conditioning: Standard
  • Climate control automatic air conditioning: Standard
  • Antilock braking system (ABS): Standard
  • Electronic brake distribution (EBD): Standard
  • Stability control: Standard
  • Hill descent control downhill brake control: Standard
  • Tyre pressure sensor monitor deflation detection system: Standard
  • Driver airbag: Standard
  • Front passenger airbag: Standard
  • Curtain airbags: Standard
  • Airbag quantity: 4
  • ISOFIX child seat mountings: outer rear
  • Engine auto Stop Start idle stop ecostop: Standard
  • Hillstart assist hillholder: Standard
  • Alloy wheelsrims: Optional
  • Driving mode switch eg sport comfort: Auto, Off-Road, Gravity Control / Hill Descent Control
  • Power steering: Standard
  • Multifunction steering wheel controls: Standard
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Standard
  • Voice control: Standard
  • Aux in auxiliary input: Standard
  • USB port: Standard
  • Powersocket 12V: front
  • Central locking: remote
  • Remote central locking: Standard
  • Electric windows: front
  • Electric adjust mirrors: Standard
  • Heated exterior mirrors: Standard
  • Daytime driving running lights: LED
  • Frontfog lamps lights: Standard
  • Rear fog lamps lights: Standard
  • Park distance control PDC: rear
  • Fuel Type: petrol
  • Fuel range average: 714 km
  • Driven wheels: all
  • Driven wheels quantity: 4
  • Gearratios quantity: 6
  • Gearshift: manual
  • Transmission type: manual
  • Diff lock: electronic
  • Front tyres: 185/65 R15
  • Reartyres: 185/65 R15
  • Length: 3705 mm
  • Width excl mirrors incl mirrors: 1672-1882 mm
  • Height: 1657 mm
  • Wheel base: 2300 mm
  • Turning circle wheels body: 9.7 m
  • Approach angle: 24
  • Break over ramp angle: 21
  • Departure angle: 34
  • Load volume / capacity: 225-870 L
  • Load volume / capacity: 870 L
  • Unladen/tare/kerb weight: 1090 kg
  • Fuel tank capacity (incl reserve): 35l
  • Fuel consumption urban: 5.9 l/100km
  • Fuel consumption extra urban: 4.3 l/100km
  • Fuel consumption average: 4.9 l/100km
  • CO2 emissions average: 114g/km
  • Emission control phase Euro EU level: EU 6
  • Power maximum: 66 kW
  • Power maximum total: 66 kW
  • Power peak revs: 5500 r/min
  • Power to weight ratio: 61 kW/ton
  • Torque maximum: 145 Nm
  • Torque peak revs: 1900 r/min
  • Torque maximum total: 145 Nm
  • Torque to weight ratio: 133.0 Nm/ton
  • Acceleration 0-100 kmh: 12.0s
  • Maximum top speed: 167 km/h
  • Engine position/ location: front
  • Engine capacity: 875 cc
  • Engine size: 0.9l
  • enginedetailshort: 0.9T
  • Engine + detail: 0.9 turbo
  • Cylinder layout: inline
  • Cylinders: 2
  • Cylinder layout + quantity: i2
  • Cam: dohc
  • Valves per cylinder: 4
  • Valves quantity: 8
  • Turbocharger: Standard
  • Warranty time (years): 3
  • Warranty distance (km): 100000 km
  • Service plan: Standard
  • Service plan time (years): 3
  • Service plan time (distance): 100000 km
  • Service interval indicator: Standard
  • Service interval (distance): 15000 km
  • Service interval (time): 1
  • Brand: Fiat
  • Status: c
  • Segment: passenger car
  • MMcode: 20011270
  • MMVariant: PANDA 900T CROSS 4X4
  • MMintrodat: 2017-05-01
  • Introdate: 2017-08-04
  • DuoportarecordID: FiatPand2e8

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Fiat Panda 0.9 TwinAir 4x4 Cross for sale in Port Elizabeth from one of Carmag.co.za's apporoved car dealerships
Used Panda 0.9 TwinAir 4x4 Cross availbale from the following auto dealer:
Tavcor Commercial used car dealership located in: Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa

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