Chrysler and Fiat’s boss, Sergio Marchionne, along with the President of the USA, wants Fiat products in North American showrooms now. That, obviously, isn’t possible. However, within the next two or three years, one Fiat vehicle that seems to be a shoo-in for U.S. consumption is the Fiat Panda.
Unfortunately, the much-loved Panda 100HP doesn’t appear to be Chrysler’s Panda of choice. In fact, it is the Panda Cross, aka the Panda 4×4, that will make it to this continent as – perhaps – the Jeep Phoenix.
For the purposes of this demonstration, we’re considering the current Panda 4×4 without any adjustments made for American regulations. In its current guise, the Panda 4×4’s engines include a 1.2L gas-powered 4-cylinder (60 horsepower) and a 1.3L diesel-fed 4-cylinder (70 horsepower), both of which accelerate to 60mph in about 20 seconds. Combined city/highway fuel economy, calculated with the European Union’s standards but with U.S. gallons, stands at 35.6 miles per gallon for the “petrol” or 54.7 mpg for the diesel.
In the picture you see here (clickable for a larger view), a few important specs aren’t present. For instance, the luggage capacity of the current Panda 4×4 is 7 cubic feet; or 30 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. Filled to the roof, a smart fortwo can hold 12 cubic feet of cargo. Meanwhile, a Kia Soul holds 53.4 cubic feet of luggage when its rear seats are folded. Helped along by those stats and the numbers you see in the Panda 4×4 image, prospective customers quickly learn more about the Panda’s diminutive proportions.
Am I suggesting the Panda 4×4 is too small to be a Jeep Phoenix? Not in the least. Might it be ahead of its time? Not if fuel prices rise by 2011 or 2012 and some Americans still want to crawl rocks. Although the Panda 4×4’s all-wheel drive is a simple send-it-to-the-rear-when-necessary system, the Fiat possesses an exit angle of 42 degrees and can apparently climb a 50% gradient. This little Italian could be a genuine Jeep. It’s most definitely a genuine small car that’s genuinely small, too.