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Fiat unveils a longer, wider Panda ahead of Frankfurt debut

By Luca Ciferri

By AutoWeek Aug 31, 2011 2:45PM

The third-generation Fiat Panda has seating for five people. (Image courtesy of Fiat.)




Fiat on Tuesday released details of its latest Panda minicar ahead of the model's debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show.


The latest version of Europe's best-selling minicar is bigger with a roomier interior. It will compete with cars such as the Volkswagen Up, which will also debut in Frankfurt.


The new Panda's exterior styling is similar to the current car's but is less boxy with more curved surfaces. The engine hood and headlights are similar to those on the retro-styled Fiat 500.


The Panda is 4.3 inches longer at 143.7 inches with its wheelbase unchanged at 90.6 inches. Most of the growth in length is on the rear overhang to boost the car's trunk space, as well as to offer more legroom to rear passengers, who also benefit from rear sliding seats for the first time.


The Panda is also 2 inches wider at 64.6 inches, which means it can seat three passengers in the rear comfortably. Most minicars have room for only two passengers in the back.


Designed under the direction of Fiat Styling Director Roberto Giolito, the father of the successful Fiat 500 minicar, the new Panda sits on the latest development of Fiat's Mini vehicle architecture, which is also used by the new Lancia Ypsilon. Like the current Panda, the new version will be offered only as a five-door to avoid competing with the three-door Fiat 500.


The interior is the strongest innovation in the new Panda. It has a colored, sculptured dashboard.


At its launch early next year, the Panda will come only with front-wheel drive. An all-wheel-drive variant will arrive next summer.


The instrument panel of the new Fiat Panda. (Image courtesy of Fiat.)

The Panda has new versions of Fiat's TwinAir 900c two-cylinder engine. A normally aspirated TwinAir delivers 65 hp, 20 hp less than a turbocharged unit, also offered. By next summer, an 80 hp turbocharged bi-fuel version, able to burn gasoline or compressed natural gas, will be offered.


Two four-cylinder engines, a 69-hp 1.2-liter normally aspirated gasoline unit and a 75-hp 1.3-liter turbodiesel complete the new engine range of the third-generation Panda.


Fiat built 6.5 million units of the first and second generations of the Panda. The first generation, styled by Italdesign Giugiaro, was introduced in 1980. About 4.5 million units were produced over its 22-year life cycle. The second generation, designed by Stile Bertone, launched in 2003 and has surprised even Fiat's most optimistic predictions.


The automaker planned to sell 1.2 million over the car's six-year life cycle. In July, the current Panda surpassed 2 million sales after eight years on the market.


The Panda will be built in the former Alfa Romeo plant of Pomigliano d'Arco, near Naples, in Italy, instead of in Tychy, Poland, where the car is currently produced.


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10Comments
Sep 1, 2011 12:29PM
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i hope its acceptable to previous owners and possible new buyers with the increase in size and all!?
Sep 1, 2011 2:05PM
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I sure hope this isn't (or won't become) the rumored 4-door-hatch follow-on to the 2-door-hatch Fiat 500 (Cinquecento) here in the US...  The exterior on this guy is ugly (the rear pillars, for some reason, I find particularly offensive).  Kinda looks like an elevator technician's service vehicle.  I hope Fiat sticks, strictly, to both the interior and exterior design cues of the current 500 when/if they roll out a 4-door-hatch in the US.  If they do, I'll probably be one of the first in line to test drive and buy!  Here's hoping...!
Sep 2, 2011 8:50AM
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So this is the best selling mini-car in Europe, eh?
No; not enough FIATs are produced to meet Europe's demand. VW Golf is the undisputed ruler,

Annatar, are you sure about that?  Because the second paragraph of this article clearly states that the Panda is "Europe's best-selling minicar", unless you want to go argue with the staff at AutoWeek. 

 

 

 

Sep 1, 2011 10:23AM
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So this is the best selling mini-car in Europe, eh? 
Sep 3, 2011 7:52AM
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Annatar, are you sure about that?  Because the second paragraph of this article clearly states that the Panda is "Europe's best-selling minicar", unless you want to go argue with the staff at AutoWeek. 

Yes, I am sure about that. Who are you going to trust, someone who has lived in Europe for years, or an American magazine?


Sep 6, 2011 7:15AM
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A 900cc 2 cylinder engine?  How smooth can that be?
Shockingly smooth actually.  I rode a motorcycle for a year with a 248cc inline 2 cylinder engine, and it was surprisingly smooth if buzzy.  The key is that 2 cylinder engines now have a 180° crank, that is the pistons are 180° offset from each other so that when one piston moves up the other moves down.  This yields a 540° - 180° - 540° - 180° firing order.

This is opposed to the traditional idea that in an inline engine the offset from one piston to the next is = 720° / N where N is the number of pistons.  Under the traditional scheme an inline 2 should have a piston offset of 360° or in other words both pistons going up and down together.  This is the layout of the classic British parallel twin motorcycles and gave an engine that shook like a caged jumping bean.

With the 180° offset layout where one cylinder goes up while one goes down first order vibrations cancel out.  However, second order vibrations are a problem.  Think a bicylclist pedaling as hard as possible, the bike tends to wobble from side to side.  However, a harmonic balancer similar to what is found in 4 cylinder engines takes care of the 2nd order vibrations just fine.  Believe it or not, an inline 2 engine can actually be smoother than an inline 3 engine.

Sep 6, 2011 5:54AM
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followed closely by Opel Astra, both of which we have here (Astra being sold as Saturn before GM killed the Saturn branch).
Strictly speaking, the Astra is still sold here since the Cruze is a Delta II bodied badge-engineered sister of the Astra.  Just with a different (worse) body style.  The old Cobalt was a Delta bodied sister of the previous generation Astra, again just with a different body style, and I would dare say a better looking one than the Astra when sold in Coupe form.  The sedan was worse looking though.

So if you look just a little under the covers the Astra has actually been sold in America for over 5 years now, just in different sheet metal to better suit US tastes.  Overall it's a good thing, as maligned as the Cobalt was it was a giant step forward from the old J-body Cavalier.  I mean seriously, a push rod based 4 cylinder in a car sold in 2000?  That was a bad joke.

Sep 1, 2011 5:24AM
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This report of a European vehicle is all this is. If Fiat were to bring another vehicle to sell alongside the 500, it should be a 4-door sedan or hatchback like the Bravo.

As to the dash above, that looks like a lot of little buttons and shiny!

Sep 2, 2011 7:51AM
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So this is the best selling mini-car in Europe, eh?
No; not enough FIATs are produced to meet Europe's demand. VW Golf is the undisputed ruler, followed closely by Opel Astra, both of which we have here (Astra being sold as Saturn before GM killed the Saturn branch). WV Polo is also popular.
Sep 1, 2011 3:51AM
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Oh well this is never going to be slated for the US market anyway.  Which might be a good thing, because the overall look of the dasboard is cheap alarm clock.
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