Get ready to embrace the Panda
A ZOO of Fiats — starting with a cut-price 500 and cute Panda — is being crated in to join Australia’s smallcar jungle.
Fiat-Chrysler opens with a 500 for about $16,000 next month before opening more boxes with other 500 derivatives and then, in December, the four-door Panda and then the Punto.
Panda, a stablemate Fiat city car in Europe, makes its first appearance in Australia despite being available in selected markets— including theUK— for about 30 years.
Now in its third generation, the Panda will compete with similar baby SUVs — including Ford’s Fiestabased EcoSport reviewed last week — and is expected to sell for less than $20,000.
Fiat Alfa Romeo spokes- woman Karla Leach won’t confirm pricing but says ‘‘it will be competitive’’.
There’s also no confirmation on engines though Leach says there’ll be a ‘‘wide range’’ of powerplants, and five-speed manual and the automatic Dualogic robotised transmission.
It will arrive as a frontwheel drive though an allwheel drive version is being considered for launch later.
Available powerplants are the 63kW/145Nm 0.9-litre twocylinder TwinAir engine borrowed from the 500, the 51kW/ 102Nm 1.2-litre petrol four and a diesel, likely the small 55kW/190Nm 1.3-litre unit.
The Panda is 3650mm long and sits on a 2300mm wheelbase, smaller than the EcoSport’s 3999mm length and 2521mm wheelbase.
But cabin room seats five at a pinch and cargo space is a relatively generous 260 litres to 870 litres with seats that fold flat to take objects up to 2m long.
Leach also confirmed the Punto would be added to the Australian inventory.
The Punto four-door hatchback goes up against Japanese favourites the Mazda2 and Toyota Yaris and would cost about $18,000.
Fiat has previously said the 132kW/272Nm hot Punto, the three-door Abarth Punto Evo Supersport, may be considered as a halo model.
Meanwhile the 500’s entrylevel model, the Pop, gets here early next month with a price that competes with the Volkswagen Up ($14,990) and 20 other equally as voracious light-car manufacturers.
The Pop will undercut the price of the existing Fiat 500 TwinAir Plus, which sells here for $18,800.