FIAT Panda Models/Series Timeline, Specifications & Photos

Generations: 5
First production year: 1981
Engines: Gasoline, Natural gas, Diesel
Body style: Hatchback
FIAT Panda photo gallery

Fiat unveiled the third generation of the Panda at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show and continued the saga of this small-sized Italian four-door vehicle on a market where most customers turned their eyes towards SUVs and crossovers.

Besides those who were looking for larger family vehicles, there were those who needed affordable means of transportation to move in and around cities. For these tasks, the Panda was close to ideal thanks to its tiny size and the ability to carry up to five people on board. Furthermore, the nameplate has been well-known in Europe since it was introduced by Fiat in 1980 and was appreciated for its low fuel consumption and ruggedness.

The exterior design was more of an evolution than a revolution compared to the second generation of the Panda that was released in 2003. At the front, the car got a set of headlights that integrated the turn signal lamps on their inner sides. Between them, the automaker placed a slim grille adorned by the Fiat’s logo in the middle, supported by a chromed slat. The bumper sported the main cooling area on its lower side and was crossed by a fat horizontal slat that housed the license plate. Lower, on the apron, customers could opt for a set of fog lamps.

From its profile, the Panda revealed its short overhangs and tall greenhouse. In addition, Fiat made the hood very short compared to the rest of the car. A set of plastic molds adorned the door panels to protect them against scratches. Depending on the version and grade, the car featured steel or alloy wheels, and the slightly flared fenders gave the car a sporty flair. The tall doors and vertical windows allowed Fiat to create a roomy interior. In addition, behind the C-posts, the automaker added a third set of windows that increased the driver’s visibility. Finally, at the back, the vertical tailgate flanked by high-mounted taillights featured a large glass area.

Inside, Fiat installed a slim and almost vertical dashboard that featured a storage area in front of the side passenger. The driver fronted an instrument cluster fitted with large dials for the speedometer and tachometer in independent binnacles that flanked a TFT for the car’s onboard computer. Depending on the grade, the Panda featured either a simple CD radio or a more complex unit with a separate screen for the navigation system. Despite the short wheelbase, there was enough room for four adults to sit comfortably inside the Panda, but a third, middle-seated one on the rear bench, had limited legroom.

Under the hood, Fiat installed a choice of three engines for most of the countries. A naturally-aspirated 1.2-liter inline-four powered the base model, while the top-of-the-range version featured the award-winning two-cylinder 0.9-liter turbocharged TwinAir unit. In addition, a turbo diesel was also on the table. For selected countries, Fiat also provided customers with a 1.2-liter engine that ran on gasoline and GNC.

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FIAT Panda 100HP photo gallery

The Panda was already a successful model, and Fiat tried to transform it into a city-segment hot-hatch in 2006 when it granted it with a special version: the Panda 100HP.

The Panda 100 was the car that proved that Fiat could build emotional vehicles in any segment. The Italian carmaker transformed an otherwise bland vehicle into a sporty hot-hatch.

On the outside, the design team tuned the car and gave it a new front bumper with an aggressive black rectangular grille at the front. Later on, another carmaker made something similar and registered the singleframe name for that. On the lower side, the designers installed fog lamps on the outers side, in mesh-grille fake vents. From its sides, the Panda 100 exposed its 15” light-alloy wheels. Its wheel-arches were adorned with black plastic moldings. To complete the sporty image, a small wing was added at the top of the tailgate while the engineers decreased the ground clearance and stiffened the suspension.

Inside it was the same Panda as before but fitted with two-tone sport high-bolstered bucket-seats. Since it was the full-options versions, Fiat installed every option from its book, including an automatic climate control system, an on-board computer and an in-dash 6-CD changer. Last but not least, it installed buttons on the steering wheel.

Under the hood, Fiat introduced an upgraded version of the 1.4-liter turbocharged gasoline engine. It was pushed to provide 100 hp paired as standard to a 6-speed manual gearbox.

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FIAT Panda photo gallery

After 22 years on the market and 4.5 million units sold, the first generation of the Panda was pulled out from the production lines and made room for its successor, the 2003 Panda.

The first Panda generation was nothing more than a box on wheels. It was cheap to buy, easy to run, and reliable. But in 2003, it was way too old and outdated. Fiat worked together with Ford and developed a new platform, which was used for the 500, the Ka's second generation, and the Panda.

Looking tall but still with flat side panels, the second generation of the Panda featured squared headlights and a narrow, two-slat grille between them. Depending on the trim option, Fiat installed a pair of fog lights on the bumper's sides and a wide grille between them. From its sides, the designers made an unusual window line, with a sloped-down area on the rear doors and a smaller, third glass, between the C- and D-pillars. The vertical drop in the back for the tailgate was a form-follow-function measure.

Inside, Fiat installed high-mounted seats with a rounded dashboard design. The carmaker installed the gear-stick on the center stack, while the instrument panel looked very similar to the one on the Fiat Punto, but with a different cluster above it. The carmaker promised and delivered room for four adults. The rear bench was too cramped for three adults but adequate for three kids.

Under the hood, Fiat offered a choice of four engines paired exclusively with a five-speed manual.

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FIAT Panda photo gallery

The first facelift variant of the Panda introduced in 1980 was released in 1986. The Panda received both technical and visual revisions. The rear suspension was upgraded, the car's body was strengthened and galvanized to avoid rust. The biggest upgrade was represented by the transition from the air-cooled two-cylinder engines to water-cooled four-cylinder ones.

A van variant was also introduced in the same year, available until 1994, fitted with two engine variants, gasoline or diesel. The rear seats were ditched and the rear windows were replaced by plastic blanking panels. The diesel and the van versions were not produced for right hand markets.

Fiat introduced two new engines: a 769cc producing 34 HP and a 999cc with 45 HP or 50 HP for the 4x4 variant. In mid 1986, the Panda received a 1301cc diesel engine producing 37 HP, paired with a 5-speed gearbox.

In 1986, four Fiat Panda variants were available: 750 L, 1000 4x4, 1000S and 1000CL. In 1990, Fiat also released released a two-seater version called the Panda Elettra – its name coming from the all-electric powertrain that was added. The batteries were placed where the rear seats used to be. The Elettra was significantly heavier than the ICE-powered Panda, adding 450 kg, so the suspension and brakes were modified to cope with the extra weight of the batteries. That said, the Elettra was considered a commercial failure and was discontinued in 1998.

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FIAT Panda photo gallery

Back in the late 70’s, the CEO of Fiat, Carlo de Benedetti, asked Giorgetto Giugiaro from the newly founded Italdesign to design a small car to replace the Fiat 126.

While Giurgetto worked on the design of the small Panda, Aldo Mantovani focused on the mechanicals.

The requirements were clear: the manufacturing costs needed to be low, while the car had to be spacious and practical, just like the rival Renault 4.

During the designing process, Giugiaro conceived the seats of the new model inspired from a folding lounge chair, as they were inexpensive to manufacture, simple and easy to maintain. The trunk needed to be big enough to accommodate two 50-liter carboys.

The project was based on a monocoque construction with a nearly flat floor, to ensure a roomy cabin.

Before the final version, Italdesign presented no less than two full-scale models and 4 different side designs. The pre-production prototypes were test-marketed at an unpublicised event where the participants were impressed by the car’s design and practicality.

The first generation of Fiat Panda was launched to the press in 1979 and unveiled to the public in 1980. The then-new Panda was a departure from Fiat’s models, featuring a front-wheel-drive system instead of the old rear-wheel drive one.

The Panda had a boxy utilitarian design, with an asymmetrical font grille that was fitted differently depending on the engine, as two different models were available: Panda 30 powered by a 652 cc engine and the Panda 45 with an engine displacement of 903 cc.

Inside, besides the rudimentary design, the cabin was fitted with a highly flexible interior. The rear seat was adjustable in 7 different ways and could be folded flat into a provisional bed. The interior mirror was simple, with no day and night adjustments.

The instrument cluster featured a heating vent, however, the small Panda was not equipped with dash outlets for fresh air. Instead, the side windows had vent windows and optional pop-out rear windows.

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