TO SOME IT might look like a 'toy' to play with.
But be warned the Fiat Panda 4×4 Cross version packs a punch.
A punch that took us to the far-flung areas of Limpopo, nearby Venda for a friend’s family burial- as we took it for an arduous test drive.
Packed at 3.6m long, 1.6m wide and 1.5m tall, wheelbase at 2.3m long and a front track of 1 410mm and a rear track of 1 400mm, Fiat Cross came to the party- such an extend the competitors Hyundai I10s, Polo Cross and Toyota Yaris, reveled at it along the busy but well-mannered N1.
The engine line-up features two-cylinder 900cc3 TwinAir petrol engine producing 66kW of power at 5500 r/min and 145Nm at 1900 r/min through a 6-speed manual transmission.
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).
The ABS brakes, however, did function well on gravel roads, which was a little puzzling.
The interior has plastic all over but who cares when economy is on upscale? It offers radio controls- though at times one struggled a bit with hopping from one station to another- UconnectTM infotainment system with Bluetooth, audio streaming, a USB port located in the cubby, a dash mounted USB recharging port, etc.
The only turn off it’s a limited leg room, as we tried taking a nap in the evening during a night vigil- yes they do take place in villages- we struggled until we opted to occupy someone’s room. There is no sufficient space to store your belongings either.
However, the exterior comes with beautiful 15” alloy rims that combines elegance and character, meant for off-road as we anticipated.
Look, the Fiat Panda Cross is worthy of owning one- as alluded due to economic traction.
It retails for R265 900
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