2011 Frankfurt Auto ShowJust the Facts:
- The third-generation Panda compact grows inside and out.
- The new Panda was designed in-house at Fiat, unlike the earlier models, which were styled by ItalDesign Giugiaro and Bertone.
- Fiat is shifting production of the Panda from Poland to Italy.
TURIN, Italy — The Fiat Panda, the best-selling minicar in Europe, is being extensively redesigned inside and out, with a new range of frugal power plants to boot. Slated to debut next month at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show, the new Panda goes on sale across Europe in early 2012.
The third-generation Panda grows in overall length and width, providing more rear-seat room and trunk space. The sheet metal has been thoughtfully reworked under the direction of Fiat's in-house styling group — a shift in strategy after the original Panda was styled by ItalDesign Giugiaro and the second by Bertone — leaving the general impression of an evolutionary change.
The five-door hatchback, essentially a more traditional stablemate to the three-door Fiat 500, still measures only 143.7 inches long overall, but with width expanded to 64.6 inches, the Panda's rear seat can now accommodate three adult passengers. Flexible seating configurations and lots of storage compartments are hallmarks of the new design.
Only the front-wheel-drive Panda will be marketed at launch, with an all-wheel-drive variant due at mid-year.
Engine choices eventually will include a wide range of frugal two- and four-cylinder engines, including several versions of Fiat's unique TwinAir 900cc two-banger. Gasoline, diesel and natural gas variants are all in the pipeline.
Fiat has switched production of the Panda from Poland to Italy, where the new model goes into production late this year at a former Alfa Romeo plant in Naples.
Edmunds.com says: After selling 6.5 million Pandas over the past 30 years, Fiat hasn't tampered much with its successful minicar formula. If anything, the new Panda looks a little more like its playfully styled sibling, the Cinquecento.