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Fiat Panda side view

Fiat Panda 0.9 8V TwinAir Natural Power Lounge in a practical test

Fiat will stick with internal combustion engines in 2017 as well. As an option, the manufacturer relies on the natural gas variant in the simple Panda small car as an energy-saving concept. Driven by a two-cylinder with 875 cm3 displacement, the engine is more like a motorcycle. Here, however, with an empty weight of 1.155 kg plus the driver, completely different masses have to be moved and completely different prices have to be paid. With our lounge equipment, that's a proud list price of 15.690 euros. Is the high purchase price worth it?

The Panda, which, according to its own advertising promises in earlier versions, was already touted as a “great box”, is nothing more than a developed concept based on the Fiat 500. Simple technical and safety equipment has accompanied the five-door small car throughout its history. During processing, the missing panels in the underbody area, missing side protection strips and especially sharp edges on the body are noticeable. With regard to the suitability for everyday use, you will look in vain for a spare wheel or a key for the wheel nut with this model. The natural gas filling station network is acceptable with around 900 filling stations. But: With this model
these must always be planned for a calculated range of a good 300 kilometers.
The interior space is tight for five seats. The seat width is sufficient and the headroom at the front and rear is sufficient for people up to 1,90 meters tall; at the back, however, the knees are already on the front seats for people who are around 1,60 meters tall.

Fiat Panda cockpit

Fiat Panda cockpit

The gear knob, which is integrated in the center console like a joystick, has to be shifted diligently in order to keep the revs at a tolerable level. The engine has been optimized for petrol operation; it therefore has 5 HP less power in natural gas operation. Sufficient in city traffic, it is less recommended for long journeys.
Subjectively, the small 0,9-liter turbo gasoline engine with 80 PS (59 kW) is agile and easy to turn. If you shift diligently and keep the engine running at speed, you will be rewarded with lively driving behavior. The panda completes the simulated overtaking maneuver at full acceleration between 60 and 100 km / h in 10,0 seconds. Average in its class. The engine has not been optimized for gas operation, which means that it loses 5 HP (3,7 kW) compared to the petrol variant.

Fiat Panda - View into the engine compartment

Fiat Panda - View into the engine compartment

 

Economical at second glance

In terms of average consumption, it is advertised as 4,2 liters / 100 km of fuel or 4,1 kg of natural gas in the brochure. In winter operation, heating and electrical consumers strike, the values ​​at freezing temperatures are significantly higher. The values ​​are comparable with those of four-cylinder engines. The savings for the higher purchase price can only be offset by the price of natural gas. Based on the realistic annual mileage of 10.000 kilometers, the consumption values ​​can be calculated. With premium gasoline we currently come to 650 x 1,26 euros = 819 euros and with natural gas operation we get 450 x 1,10 euros = 495 euros. A good 324 euros can be saved here per year. If fuel prices are expected to rise, correspondingly more. However, from a purely economic point of view, a payback period of several years must be taken into account for the additional price.

CO2 reduction

A natural gas engine ensures around 25 percent less CO2 emissions and is cleaner than a gasoline engine. With 12 kg of natural gas in the tanks, around 250 to 300 kilometers can be covered in everyday life. Natural gas will remain subject to a low energy tax rate until December 31, 2018. After that, the development has to be awaited.

Fiat Panda front view

Special equipment at an additional cost

If you don't have too high expectations, you can live well with the Panda on short trips in the comfort area. On long journeys, some features are simply not suitable for everyday use. The steering gives little cornering feel and the seats are designed much too spongy. Constantly shifting between gears doesn't exactly calm the driver. After all, the cockpit, which is well designed for this vehicle class, makes up for it. The lounge equipment also includes some high-quality features, for example light alloy wheels, power windows, leather steering wheel, radio with hands-free kit or fog lights.

The air conditioning, on the other hand, is only available in this variant for an extra charge of 400 euros, as well as a divisible rear seat bench or trunk lighting. The equipment options, which are subject to a surcharge, are very generous for a small compact car.
The space and the trunk are correspondingly modest for the vehicle class. The trunk has a capacity of 220 liters and can be expanded to 870 liters by folding down the rear seats. You can even use a braked trailer weighing up to 800 kg with the little panda.

Addendum:

Source: green car magazine I / 2017

According to the manufacturer, the employees in production near Naples celebrated the 300.000 Panda Natural Power together. According to Fiat, no other car powered by natural gas is as successful in Europe as the Panda. It was the first mass-produced natural gas model and from 2007 until today the best-selling natural gas model in Europe.

External links:

Fiat Panda price list 2017

N. Hawthorn
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