Enthusiasts, however, will no doubt be more excited by the 100HP’s 9.5sec 0-62mph time – which, in a car like this, feels much faster than it sounds – and the 4×4’s nimbleness when the going gets tough.
How to get one in your garage
An owner’s view
Daryll Duiker: “I still think that Abarth should have taken the 100HP to make a really fast hot hatch. A 1.4-litre turbo engine would have been awesome, as the atmo unit it has now is fun but, in my opinion, not powerful enough. That’s my dislike, but my likes include traffic-light sprints, the sound (I’ve got an Akrapovic exhaust with a custom backbox) and the go-kart handling. The six-speed gearbox usually needs an overhaul after 100,000 miles, but there’s nothing else to worry about.”
■ Engine: Fully Integrated Robotised Engine (Fire) petrols – from the entry 1.1-litre unit up to the 16V 1.4-litre range-topper – are frugal, easy to maintain and punchier than you might think. Head gasket failure is a possibility across the range, so keep an eye out for milky oil or white exhaust smoke. The timing belt should be replaced every 36,000 miles, especially on post-2010 ‘interference’-engined cars, which were given variable valve timing to meet Euro 5 emissions standards.
■ Gearbox: Shifting woes are more frequently attributed to the hydraulic clutch than the transmission itself. Adjustment is simple enough, and you should try bleeding the system before replacing the friction plate. The 4×4 and 100HP might crunch when shifting up into third; this can sometimes be remedied with new linkages but could mean the synchro is worn out. A replacement ’box can be found for around £400.
■ Bodywork: Fit and finish definitely isn’t a strong suit for the Panda. So check that the thinly applied paint hasn’t been too chipped by stones and that the light cluster seals haven’t let water into the housing. Also, drainage holes at the bottom of the windscreen can clog and let water into the footwells.
■ Suspension: The 100HP’s ride is firmer than the standard Panda’s, while the 4×4 rolls significantly more in corners. The hot hatch is also known for its propensity to go out of alignment, causing tyres to wear irregularly, so get this sorted by a specialist immediately after purchase.