As you may have noticed, small car sightings in the States are on the rise, prompted by volatile fuel prices. Also, B-segments cars aren’t the penalty boxes they used to be, as proven by the 2012 Chevy Sonic, 2012 Toyota Yaris, and 2012 Hyundai Accent, all of which offer tons of tech, quality, and affordability.
Unlike the States, small cars in Europe are a dime a dozen and include the Fiat Panda, which is Fiat’s second-best selling car, right behind the slightly-bigger Punto. Fiat has just taken the wraps off the third-gen Panda and now it’s preparing to unleash a four-wheel drive version of its diminutive city car. The folks over at Motor Trend recently caught the Panda 4×4 testing its road-gripping capabilities out in the snow, wearing a few bits of camouflage and a set of meaty winter tires. It also appears to be riding higher than the normal Panda. Aside from that, the two and four-wheel drive are pretty much identical. Powertrain choices will likely carryover from the two-wheel drive version, which include a tiny 875cc, two-cylinder, TwinAir turbo rated at 84 hp.
As you would expect, the Panda slots below the 500 in terms of refinement, style, and price (it’s about 35 percent cheaper than a base 500). Additionally, the Panda 4×4 could be a preview of what to expect if Fiat green lights a rumored Jeep based on an upcoming B-wide platform, which will underpin a number of future Fiat and Chrysler products. The micro-Jeep would be bigger than the Panda but likely smaller than the Compass and our sources said it would have true off-road capabilities. Also, the new Jeep will have a more likely chance of making it to the States than the Panda, though anything is possible when customers (and money) talk.
Despite sales of the 500 tempering in the U.S. market, more practical, five-door B-segment cars seem to have a bright future here. Do you think Fiat would have better luck selling the less-expensive Panda over to our shores? What would the Panda need in order to succeed in America? And what about a micro-sized Jeep?
Head over to Motor Trend for more shots of the Fiat Panda 4×4.
Source: Motor Trend