Small cars were once associated with high risk and small profits as it was very easy to lose money on every car a company made if it didn’t get the production of the car exactly right. This problem probably explains why there was such a problem with the industry early on as small cars were unpleasant to drive and many people did not like owning them.
The Fiat Panda was one of the first cars to be produced that didn’t have the problems of these previous cars. It was still a basic vehicle but it was something the people embraced and in the end it ended up gaining something of a cult status.
Fiat released a replacement for the Panda in 2003 but decided to call it something different, unfortunately Renault managed to claim that the car’s name was too similar to one of their vehicles. Therefore Fiat decided to stick with the name Panda and in eight years it has sold over 2 million of the vehicles.
Fiat has recently designed a second replacement for the Panda and this is going to be produced in Italy at the refurbished manufacturing plant which the company spent nearly £800 million redeveloping. They have purchased a brand-new production line and retrained all of the staff. Before the refurbishment the manufacturing facility was capable of producing just over 30,000 cars a year but after the refit they will be hoping to create 300,000 cars per year.
The Chief Executive of Fait is Sergio Marchionne who has said that his company has an obligation to work in Italy. He has, however, said that production will also be continuing in the company’s Polish plants where cars are being produced more efficiently than they are in Italy. The more efficient workforce that can be utilised in Eastern Europe has also meant that Volkswagen are producing their small cars inSlovakiaandBratislava.
The new Panda doesn’t look very different from the model that was released in 2003. It is tall and jaunty in the same way and hasn’t lost any of its charm. The car is around 12 feet long which is just a touch longer than the 2004 version. It has the same wheelbase as the original car but it has additional plastic on the front to prevent any damage that might happen when parking the car.
The rear suspension has been changed which means the ride has been improved. It feels less abrupt than the original car and road bumps are handled much better. The steering still feels a little bit harsh, is rather unforgiving and at times you may feel as if the car is out of control going round corners. This is not to the extent that you would be worried about it but it is not the feeling of agility that you want.
The question many people are going to be asking themselves is whether this is the best small car for them to buy. The rival offering by Volkswagen is a good car and it is slightly cheaper than the the new Panda. The Volkswagen also has more advanced features but in general the Fiat is more fun to drive and it certainly looks better than the Volkswagen. Many buyers will be happy to pay the small increase in price for this better car.