A review of the Fiat Panda.

Yes, you read that right. I’m reviewing a car. I’ve never reviewed a vehicle before but this car…this car, y’all. *shakes head*. I’ve had one for just over two weeks as a courtesy car while mine is in the garage and the experience has certainly been unique, that’s for sure!!

It’s a fairly new one, only 2000 miles on the clock when I picked it up. At first impression it’s really very ugly, like a brick on wheels.

The first and most obvious thing to say is do NOT buy this car unless you are over 5 foot 7, probably 8 would be safer. I’m only 5 foot 4.5 inches (the half is important, yo!) and the struggle is real. First off, the clutch is so high off the floor that I can’t keep my heel on the floor and depress the pedal at the same time with my delicate little (*snort*) size 6 feet. It doesn’t really matter out on the open road, but for town and city driving it’s a cruel and unusual form of punishment for your thigh muscles. The second issue with height is that the overly large steering wheel quite effectively blocks my view of the speedometer for everything between 30 – 70 mph so I have to duck to look under it or make like a meerkat to see how fast I’m going. Not the safest!

The door handles are so far forward and the door is so heavy that I have to use both hands to open it because I just can’t get the leverage on my elbow to open it single-handedly without seriously hurting my shoulder. Yes, if you’re wondering, I learned that the hard way. I can’t pull the handle and nudge it open with my elbow. I have to hold onto the handle, reach across my body with the other arm and give the door a veritable shove.

The engine makes intermittent ominous growling noises that rumble the whole car, even when stationary and idling in neutral. It’s a little off-putting. The gear box is very crunchy too. There aren’t any smooth transitions.

Talking of gears, the driving suggestion system is really irritating. It was clearly designed my a curmudgeonly OAP who is terrified of the road, because it keeps flashing to change up gears while barely crawling along. It tells you to go up to 4th gear at 22 mph on the open road. Sure, if I wanted to accelerate like a tortoise… I’m mostly ignoring it but it is irritating that it constantly flashes on and off.

Talking of flashing, the indicators are pretty sassy. If you have the sheer audacity to try and turn it off yourself without waiting for it to automatically stop (how very dare you!!) it’ll turn the other indicator on while the stick is in neutral, leaving you no way to turn it off without waggling the stick until you hit the right spot.

That’s not the only sassy electric in the car. It takes the huff with you if you come to a halt, not allowing you to just turn the engine off and leave the electrics (ie the radio) on. It’s the car’s way of saying “No, if you don’t want to use me any more, JUST LEAVE. *weeps*”.

The turning circle is atrocious and sometimes the steering feels really heavy. To be fair, my usual car is an Audi A2 so just about everything feels heavy to me, but from what I can remember from previous cars, the steering on the Fiat is a lot heavier to handle than it should be.

Finally, the dashboard doesn’t seem ergonomic or user friendly. To give the car the benefit of the doubt, it is unfamiliar, but it’s also safe to say that it’s not logically laid out. Took me a few seconds to find the window switches and even more seconds to figure out how to alter the volume on the radio. The handbrake still catches me out sometimes because it’s a paddle rather than a stick but I guess I’d get used to that.

All in all, I’m fairly sure I would never recommend one of these vehicles to anyone.

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