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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

Fiat Panda’s face altered and new mild-hybrid heart added

Updated version of Turin's iconic city car won't be offered locally as it is no longer listed by Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles South Africa.

Now in its ninth year of production, Fiat has given the third generation Panda another extensive interior and exterior update, as well as confirming complete details of the new mild-hybrid powerunit.

Coinciding with its 40th anniversary this year, Turin has rationalised the Panda line-up to consist out of four distinct models, the City Life, Sport, City Cross and the range-topping Cross with all benefitting from a new front bumper, revised side skirts and a seven-inch UConnect touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

In terms of bespoke fittings, the City Life boasts 15-inch Life alloy wheels, a black roof, door handles and side cladding, manual air-conditioning, an anthracite finished dashboard and two-tone grey seats, while Sport receives a matte grey paint finish, two-tone 16-inch alloys with black-and-red rims, body coloured door handles and mirrors, an optional gloss black roof and chrome Sport badging.

Unique interior fixtures consists of a black roofliner, new seats trimmed in dark grey upholstery with techno-leather inserts, titanium dashboard inlays, so-called eco-leather door trim, red stitching and as part of the optional Pandemonio Pack, which is claimed to pay homage to the previous generation 100 HP, a techno-leather steering wheel with red stitching, red brake calipers and tinted windows.

Available with front-or-four-wheel-drive, a setup that also features on the Cross, the City Cross features a new Ceramic Blue paint finish and daytime running LEDs, techno-leather upholstery, silver stitching on the seats and door panels plus automatic air-conditioning, black roof rails and black side cladding.

Building on this, the Cross gets 15-inch alloy wheels, chromed front and rear skidplates, red tow hooks, a roof rack and black Cross branding, Cross branded two-tone, brown stitched seats whose centre is made out of recycled plastic, black techno-leather door panels, rear parking sensors, a leather wrapped steering wheel, smartphone mount and optional so-called ‘woody’ dashboard applique also made out of recycled materials.

Up front, a choice of two engines are offered; the carryover 875 cc TwinAir turbocharged two-cylinder rated at 63kW/145Nm or 52kW/135Nm when powered by compressed natural gas (CNG), and the mentioned mild-hybrid that combines the normally aspirated 1.0-litre Firefly engine offered in certain South American models with a 3.6 kW lithium-ion battery for a combined output of 51kW/92Nm. The new unit is mated as standard to a six-speed manual gearbox with the TwinAir keeping its five-speed ‘box.

In Italy, where an unbadged base model, powered solely by the mild-hybrid is offered, pricing kicks-off at €13 900 (R267 901) with the TwinAir 4×4 Cross ending the line-up priced at €19 750 (R380 650). No longer listed by Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles South Africa though, the updated Panda is therefore not expected to return to local shores soon.

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