Panda's city car hat trick
Fiat Autoís widely acclaimed Panda supermini, which first went on sale here in early 2004, has just pulled off an enviable automotive hat trick, winning the 2006 City Car category in Auto Express magazineís Annual New Car Honours for the third year in succession. Voted Car of the Year 2004 by a 56-strong international jury of senior motoring journalists late in 2003, Panda has since attracted a stream of awards from the media, which has been repeatedly impressed by its winning combination of build quality, space, refinement, big car feel, comfort, driving pleasure and value for money.
The ultimate accolade from Britainís biggest selling weekly car magazine, Auto Express, came in 2004 when it won the magazineís Car of the Year award, along with the magazineís Budget Car and City Car titles. It is the latter accolade which Panda has now secured for a remarkable third successive year, while also being commended in the Budget Car category.
Commenting on Pandaís performance in the 2006 awards, Auto Express says: "This is the car that proved the Italian marque hadnít forgotten how to build fantastic small cars Ė and two years on from its launch, no-one does it better. Panda still gives city car buyers exactly what they need.
"This is one car thatís small yet perfectly formed. Not only does the bodywork manage to look both cute and sturdy, itís equally well designed inside. Robust, attractive and well laid out with the gearlever mounted high up; from the moment you step aboard you know this car will be fun to drive.
"And it doesnít disappoint. In fact it excels everywhere, coping with motorways and B-roads with aplomb. But in the urban jungle thereís simply nothing better. Great all-round visibility, light steering, a tight turning circle, snappy gearbox and torquey engines (particularly the superb 1.3 litre MultiJet diesel) make this a big hearted companion that loves to be in the thick of the action."
Fiatís success at the 2006 Auto Express New Car Honours was also reflected in a commendation for the companyís new Grande Punto. "Great to look at, awesome value for money and filled with stylish detailing, the Punto is unmistakably Italian. Build quality is leagues ahead of its predecessor, the new Punto is fun to drive and thereís a good range of engines to choose from."