SA’S small­est 4x4 cross­over is big on charm (and thirst)

Car (South Africa) - - TEST -

R249 900

I15,10 sec 66 kw/145 N.m 167 km/h t’s a big pie, the cross­over mar­ket, and it’s get­ting big­ger by the day, es­pe­cially here in South Africa. Hop­ing to take an ad­mit­tedly thin slice of this pas­try is the new Fiat Panda 4x4 Cross, smartly aimed at those to whom a medium-sized SUV is out of reach.

Af­ter qui­etly ex­it­ing Fiat’s lo­cal line-up in July 2016, a facelifted Panda range has now made its re­turn to our mar­ket with four mod­els, all tted with Fiat’s 875 cm3, two-cylin­der engine. This Panda Cross 4x4 cer­tainly looks the part and Fiat’s de­sign­ers have done a com­mend­able job, both in­side and out, in giv­ing the little city car a more ad­ven­tur- 5,88 L/100 km 114 g/km ous per­sona. With trim­mings that in­clude roof rails, pro­trud­ing front foglamps and an in­ter­est­ing punc­tured grille be­low the front bumper, its looks en­cour­age you to exit left off the tar road; there are even re­spectable an­gles for off-road­ing (24 de­grees for ap­proach; 34 for de­par­ture; and a break-over an­gle of 21 de­grees).

In­side, the Panda’s round­ed­square theme is ev­i­dent all over, ap­pear­ing in the de­sign of the steer­ing wheel, air vents and gear knob, to name but three. There is, how­ever, not much se­cure space to store your be­long­ings, with nar­row door pock­ets and a small glove­box, al­beit with a larger, open stor­age space above it. Be­tween the two front seats, there are four shal­low hold­ers for bot­tles or small para­pher­na­lia.

The cloth seats are com­fort­able, of­fer­ing a com­mand­ing view from be­hind the steer­ing wheel, but a few testers com­plained of an awk­ward seat­ing po­si­tion ow­ing to the rake-only steer­ing col­umn al­ways feel­ing too far away. As ex­pected from an A-seg­ment hatch, space for rear pas­sen­gers is lim­ited, with taller staffers

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