Danny's Fiat Panda

by practical-classics |
Published on

Danny’s newly arrived hot-ish hatch is the very definition of Noughties Italian fun

Danny's Fiat Panda

Modern manufacturers build cars according to the results from the same focus groups. They come up with cars that are brilliant tools for living and it’s been that way for years. I don’t have a problem with it. However, every now and then a major manufacturer has a little moment of marvellous madness to alleviate the tedium – and that happened in 2006 when Fiat decided to warm up its second-generation Panda.

For four marvellous years – and, initially, for a smidge under ten grand – the Fiat Panda 100hp struck a rich seam of what we like to call ‘fun’. It was the first properly developed fast car to come out of Fiat in years and, with group five insurance, it was greeted with a universal thumbs-up. I have always wanted one and that is why, when I was recently offered one at a good price, I jumped at it.

In the same way that Ford’s SportKa turned something nifty into pure pocket dynamite, the 100hp gave the Panda – a car that was already full of utilitarian charm – a new sense of purpose. It changes its character without losing its blue-collar roots; it’s still part of the family.

So, it puts a smile on my face every time I drive it because it is hugely entertaining, without being ostentatious. It has a naughty, boisterous, rasping Italian exhaust note that reminds me of an Abarth from the Sixties… neat, because a previous owner has replaced all the Fiat badges on this car with Abarth items. The 100hp was never an Abarth, but it certainly should have been.

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