Unbeatable on British lanes, the Fiat Panda Cross is one of the toughest 4x4s on the market and also of the cheapest
It’s a little-known fact that when the weather turns bad, you don’t need a huge, hulking SUV to keep moving – you just need a Fiat Panda 4×4. In fact, you’d probably be better off in one, both literally and figuratively. For ideal performance in limited-grip conditions, you don’t just need a car with four-wheel drive, you need one that is compact and light too. The lighter it is, the less work its tyres have to do, the more grip you have. It really is as simple as that, and the Panda 4×4 is about as simple as they come. It doesn’t have clever electronics or lockable differentials, and with a kerb weight less than half of that of a top-of-the-range SUV, nor does it need them. It just has four-wheel drive and, if you choose the jacked-up Cross version, additional ground clearance and a simple three-stage ‘All Terrain Selector’ including hill descent.
When the weather is good, you’ll be driving a fun and funky Fiat Panda, when it gets bad you’ll be driving one of the most effective SUVs available at any price. Spec a set of winter tyres too and it’ll take an avalanche to stop you.
Happily Fiat has been making four-wheel-drive Pandas for years, so if you don’t want to splurge on a new one, there is a near limitless choice of older, cheaper ones available.
- Engine: 0.9cc, 90bhp
- Transmission: 6-speed manual
- Top speed: 104mph
- 0-60mph acceleration: 12sec
- Claimed economy: 57mpg
- VED: Group C
- Insurance Group: 10 (1=low, 50=high)