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Whoa, what’s that? It’s where you’d expect the handbrake to be, but it doesn’t feel like a handbrake. It’s round, and smooth, it’s a mouse, that’s what it is the sort you use to operate your computer, not the little rodent. I came out for a drive and I’ve found myself in the bloody office. There’s a button on its side, too, maybe a curser will appear on the windscreen, I’ll be able to click on things in the road ahead, drag them out of my way, double-click on one of those G4S prisoner vans to open it up, release the passengers, just for a giggle Oh, I see, you have to press the button to release the handbrake, that’s all. Obviously.

Actually, I quite like this hand mouse, it feels good, fits snugly into my palm. Maybe I’ll put my left hand there when it’s not required, caress it like a small turtle. And it’s symptomatic of the new Panda inside, there’s a pleasing tactility about it. A bit cheap, yes, and plasticky, but you want to touch, like Amy Childs, off Towie

It’s not cheap cheap like the original Panda. Remember? Thatwas basically a sardine tin with alittle two-cylinder engine and deckchairs inside. There wasalovely utilitarian charm aboutit, but this is something different, amore grown-up car you might actually consider taking somewhere farther than up the road. You won’t fall in love with it, as you might well have done with the original, or perhaps you have done with the new Fiat 500. But it’sstill a very likable car. And it’s both cheaper and more practical than the cuter 500.

I’m trying the TwinAir model, which costs a bit more but whichemits less CO2 than the magic 100g/km, so it’s free to tax and there’s no congestion charge. Itwould make sense most in London. Plus it makes a rather pleasing fluttering farty sound when you put your foot down, amusing to small boys (or grown men who are essentially still small boys at heart, which most are, I find).

To be honest, it’s not massively different from the model it replaces, the first generation new Panda (as opposed to the original). Nip’n’tuck I’d call it, not extensive cosmetic surgery. It’s actually a bit bigger in all directions, and more comfortable. The ride is better, it’s smoother, quieter. More refined, you might say, though not too much, we’re not talking ladette to lady here. Amy Childs, remember, she still applies, outside as well as in. And when you factor in the flatulence No, I’m not saying that Amy farts, just that the Fiat Panda remains cheerful as well as cheap.

Price 11,250
Top speed 110 mph
Acceleration 0-62mph in 11.2 seconds
Combined fuel consumption 67.3mpg
C02 emissions 99g/km
Green rating 8/10
Cool rating 7/10

From: guardian.co.uk – Read more

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