January Canary – Fiat Panda MkII

This bright yellow little block is a second-generation Fiat Panda, made in Poland from 2005 to 2011. It’s one of the most affordable cars in Europe, with new-car prices for the outgoing model starting at 6990 eur in Germany for example. Named after the classic but quite a bit smaller and more basic Panda built from 1980 to 2003, the second generation is more of a small MPV than the three-door, industrial refrigerator -resembling original one that had what can be considered hammocks for seats. Despite the temperature being a lowly -15 centigrades today at noon, this Fiat hadn’t been disheartened by the cold. Make the jump, fans of Polish-built cars (that probably means you, Kamil, and a few hundred others) The Panda is a narrow and tall little car. This makes for an airy cabin with lots of useable upright space if you’re a large-headed individual, but can be a little disconcerting in crosswinds. Don’t worry, though; if it topples over, there are sturdy handles on the roof for picking it up. Fiat managed to sell quite a few units of the European Car of the Year award-winning Panda, with the 2 000 000th example rolling out of the factory in July 2011 (incidentally a 4WD version. Sounds like a hoot). Powerplants for the Panda range from 1.1 litres to 1.4, with a 1.3-litre turbodiesel available. There are a load of special editions, including the kitchen utensil -inspired Alessi – the one for the Fiat driver who’s more interested in his coffeemaker than is strictly necessary. The Panda with the most verve was the 100HP edition, with (you guessed it) 100 hp squeezed of the 16-valve FIRE juicemaker under the hood. The 100HP got a 6-speed manual for stirring the concoction. The Panda’s also famously endorsed by Top Gear’s James May, who keeps one as company for his Porsche and Ferrari. The narrow Panda does make sense as a city car, and since it’s a Fiat with lots of impact-resisting plastic bits, I wouldn’t feel too bad about banging into things with it. That’s probably why mano of them see usage as rental cars in the Mediterranean. If you think of the round little nugget that is the 500 and the fact that those have made the journey Stateside (albeit from Mexico), could you imagine the Panda as a town runabout over there as well?

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