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Fiat Panda - Practical and Affordable

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Itís time to celebrate the Fiat Panda. First launched 35 years ago, the car moved into its second incarnation in 2004.

It’s time to celebrate the Fiat Panda. First launched 35 years ago, the car moved into its second incarnation in 2004. Since then, it’s been hugely popular, with its quirky, cute design, out-and-out practicality and affordable ownership. The third-generation version, available since 2012, is built on the characteristics that made the previous model such a hit.

Although the Panda is constructed with parts from the Fiat 500, it’s not a chic metromobile. The Panda is far less fashion-conscious and aimed at families wanting inexpensive daily transport. That’s where the practicality comes in – with the intelligent sliding back seats, you can enjoy up to 260 litres of boot space. The Panda is also a tall car, so headroom is much better than many of its rivals.

The Panda comes with some impressive engines, but the 0.9-litre TwinAir petrol is a particular hit. It performs well and sounds great. If you spend your time around town or on the school run, it's perfect. Motorway cruisers might prefer the 1.3-litre Multijet diesel.

These are frugal cars to own, offering fuel economy ranging from 54.3 to 72.4mpg, and your road tax could get as low as £20. Servicing and insurance won’t break the bank, either.

There’s a bit of flexibility within the range, too, with off-road versions that include the Panda Trekking and a tough four-wheel drive called the Panda Cross. Equipped with snow tyres it’ll go anywhere, any time.

The car comes with two petrol engines: a 1.2-litre that realises over 54mpg and costs just £30 a year to tax. You’ll pay a bit more for the 0.9-litre TwinAir, which gives you an improved general driving experience and a lot of fun. You’ll also be delighted to enjoy 67.3mpg and zero road tax.

Bottom-of-the-range is the Pop, which comes in a 1.2-litre petrol or 1.3-litre diesel. The Pop gets four airbags, power steering and CD/MP3 system. For a bit more kit, the Easy is a good choice. It gives you roof rails, central locking and aircon. It’s also powered by a TwinAir petrol unit and Dualogic automatic gearbox. This car in manual transmission, at £11,000, is possibly the best of the range.

For style and equipment, you’ll want the Lounge model. This gives you heated door mirrors, body-coloured door handles, fogs and alloys. All the Pandas come with 14 storage compartments in the cabin, so you can stash away your family bits and pieces.

The Fiat Panda won’t go ripping up the road, but for good old-fashioned family affordability and practicality, it can’t be beaten.

You can test drive the Fiat Panda in the north east of England. Just call in to Richard Hardie’s showrooms in Ashington or Silverlink, Newcastle.

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