Herald Sun - Motoring - - Head To Head -

VALUE The four-seat wagonette Easy sits in the mid­dle of the four­model Panda range. There are lots of stor­age bins, ex­cel­lent vi­sion, good au­dio and me­dia con­nec­tiv­ity. An­nual ser­vice in­ter­val, long 150,000km war­ranty with road­side as­sis­tance, and a 56 per cent re­sale. No capped-price ser­vic­ing. DE­SIGN Euro­peans love Fiat’s min­i­mal­ist Ital­ian-cen­tric ideals. It’s com­fort­able and prac­ti­cal but to some it’s just a small box. It is just 3.65m long yet can hold 225L-870L of lug­gage, has durable cabin fab­rics and sim­ple con­trols, even to the point of man­ual win­ders for the rear win­dows. Easy’s steel wheels are part of the ap­peal (pic­tured, Lounge spec). TECH­NOL­OGY Eyes popped when Fiat an­nounced its 875cc two-cylin­der TwinAir en­gine (63kW/145Nm), now in Panda, 500 and even the Alfa Mito. The tur­bocharged and in­ter­cooled twin is Panda’s most pow­er­ful en­gine op­tion. Fuel econ­omy is 4.2L/100km but needs 95 RON and has a small 37L tank. Panda uses the 500 plat­form, fivespeed man­ual box, disc/drum brakes and elec­tri­c­as­sist steer­ing. SAFETY The five-star crash rat­ing comes as a sur­prise in a car so small. But the Panda ex­tends that with elec­tronic sta­bil­ity and trac­tion con­trol, day­time run­ning lights, rear park sen­sors, hill holder and space-saver spare (the Fi­esta has no spare). DRIV­ING Two cylin­ders make an odd, un­even rum­bling sound yet there’s noth­ing slow about de­liv­ery. It pulls hard — peak torque is from 1900rpm. Ride com­fort is pretty good and cruis­ing quiet­ness is ex­cel­lent, though han­dling isn’t overly in­spir­ing be­cause its 985kg makes it move around a bit dur­ing cor­ner­ing. Su­per-easy to park and a dod­dle to drive.

Mini-en­gined city cars take di­ver­gentg routes on the com­mut­ing road. NEIL DOWL­ING com­pares

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