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Fiat Panda 100HP Review & Road Test (2010) Part 2

Mon, 13 Sep 2010 00:00:00 -0700

The Fiat Panda 100 HP Road Test


If you’re going to judge a book by its cover, then the Fiat Panda 100hp is shouting all the things I like in a car from the rooftops. But shouting about your abilities just isn’t my cup of tea – far better to speak softly and carry a big stick.

The Panda 100HP is all about bulging wheel arches; red callipers; fake diffuser; big alloys; the ‘Look at me I’m Sporty’ school of car design. In fact all the go-faster kit from the ’80s bolted on to the poor, unsuspecting, sensible Panda.

So the Panda 100hp ends up looking like a little pocket-rocket, but there is no way it can live up to the promise of its styling; not with 100hp. The stats say 0-60mph in around 9.5 seconds and a top speed of 115mph. Which is fine but hardly earth-shattering. Until you drive it.

The Panda 100hp feels how I’d expect a Mini Cooper to feel if it had carried on evolving instead of being turned in to a BMW. It handles like a go-kart and it feels so much quicker than its stats would suggest.

Traditionally, this is what Fiat does best – great small cars. The Panda is decent enough as an economical city runaround, but the Panda 100HP is an absolute hoot. The more you throw it around, the more it responds. It turns in and changes direction like a Jack Russell after a big farmyard rat.

It nips and tucks and ducks and dives so well I defy almost anything – with any amount of power – to keep with it around tight, winding country roads or in the centre of a congested City.

It’s not just that the Panda 100hp is quick – or feels quick – it’s that it loves to be thrashed around. The more you throw at it the more it responds. It yells its enthusiasm at you with every gear change you make and with every change of direction it seems to shout its approval.

I spent a week playing with the 100hp and found myself grabbing the keys at every opportunity, despite some much more powerful and expensive machinery being available. I don’t think I’ve had so much fun in such a bargain-basement car since…well, I don’t know when.

But I don’t know if I could live with the 100hp full time. Maybe if I lived in central London I could, but the hard and bouncy ride – so much fun in small doses – would get wearing, as would the noise. Particularly on the motorway where the gearing makes the 100hp sound like a Magimix on blitz mode.

But the 100hp isn’t aimed at me. It’s aimed at enthusiastic kids; those who can’t drive the fastest and most expensive cars on the block because they can’t afford them, and even if they could they couldn’t get insured.

For that target demographic the Fiat Panda 100hp is brilliant. It feels classless and capable; fun and frugal; mad but safe. All in equal measure.

Despite my normal reservations about ‘Shouty’ looks, the OTT nature of the 100HP’s style suits the little Fiat. It’s also well equipped (it even has a 6-speed ‘box and proper Climate – at just £11k) and feels well-built.

It is a brilliant little car to play with and, I have no doubt, a brilliant little car to own and run. If you’re under 25. Which sadly, I’m not.

Still, it was fun pretending.

Fiat Panda 100 HP full specification, data and price

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By Cars UK