Unlike the Fiesta, whose production exit, next summer, was announced by Ford with a very romantic mini video-tribute that went around the web in a few hours (here the history of the city car of the blue oval), the Fiat Panda 4×4 has disappeared from the price lists and online configurators of the Turin house on tiptoe. And with the handover to the new model, set for 2023-24 (here to find out more, it is difficult to imagine an heir who traces the “spirit” and the mechanical approach. Refreshed in style, the “Pandino” to four-wheel drive of current generation dates back to almost ten years ago. But the myth has much more distant origins: it was 1983 when the brilliant small car designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro ventured for the first time off-road, showing off traction and resistance to fatigue usually the prerogative of much larger and “specialized” vehicles and therefore enjoying enormous success, today transformed into a kind of veneration (and not only for lovers of the genre). Here is the short story in pictures of a small, large car that we will miss very much.
THE BEGINNING OF THE MYTH – The first Fiat Panda 4×4 debuts at the end of June 1983. Conceived to all intents and purposes as one small off-road vehicle, is powered by the same 965cc inline four-cylinder engine as the Autobianchi A112. Despite a strengthening of the chassis that Fiat will extend to the rest of the range at the same time as the introduction of the four-wheel drive version, the car is very light (740 kg empty) and extraordinarily agile. The merit of being able to go everywhere is also of the robust all-wheel drive system insertable produced by the Austrian Steyer-Puch, which supplies the Turin-based company with the complete transmission: clutch, gearbox, transmission shaft (divided into three parts) and rear axle with differential and brakes. However, without a real gearbox, the Panda 4×4 boasts a unique feature: the so-called “primino”, that is a ratio of the first gear sufficiently short to allow it to overcome even the most difficult slopes with a certain ease.
SOME SPECIAL SIGN … – Based on the renewed “Supernova” version of the Panda, which would remain in the Fiat price lists from 1986 to 2003with a restyling in 1991, in September 1985 Fiat launched a special limited series of its baby off-road vehicle: produced in only 5,000 units, the “new Panda 4×4“Has slight changes in the interior (which is still quite spartan, in accordance with the off-road vocation of the vehicle) and outside can be recognized at a glance for the additional driving lights, the luggage rack and the decorative strips on the sides .
THE MYTHICAL FIRE ARRIVES WITH THE NEW LOOK – The “refresh” of 1991 to the style of Panda it also concerns the 4×4 versions, which starting from the spring of the following year are immediately recognizable by the large “Panda 4×4” written directly on the sheet metal tailgate and benefit from a substantial renewal also on a mechanical level. Under the hood finally debuts the lightest, most advanced and most efficient FIRE engine (acronym which stands for Fully Integrated Robotized Engine), produced starting from 1985 and mounted for the first time on the Autobianchi Y10. With a displacement of 1108 cc and an output of 50 hp, the new four-cylinder abandons carburettor power in favor of a more modern electronic injection system supplied by Bosch and is equipped with an exhaust system equipped with a three-way catalytic converter. and lambda probe. The “base” and “S” versions of the Panda 4×4 they are flanked by the more delicious Val d’Isère (reserved for the French market), Trekking and Country Club.inclinometer on the dashboard, a very useful tool in off-road driving, as it allows you to measure the angle of inclination of the vehicle. At the beginning of 1995 the “1100” gained 4 HP, but performance remained essentially unchanged, with a top speed of around 130 km / h in fifth gear. In August 1998 the range was reduced and in the Italian list, until the arrival of the new Climbing in 2002, which in addition offers the freewheel device at the rear, only Trekking remains.
THE LEGEND IS RENEWED – Presented in 2004the Fiat Panda 4×4 based on the second generation model (the one that replaced Giugiaro’s Panda in 2003 and remained in the breach until 2012), it re-proposes the small off-road format of the famous ancestor. The car always rests on a strengthened and raised platform (the ground clearance is 160 mm for the normal 4×4, 165 mm for the more accurate Climbing) and to offer greater traction on the most “difficult” surfaces it relies on a permanent all-wheel drive system, fully mechanical and equipped with viscous coupling (replaced in 2008 by a Haldex electro-hydraulic clutch). Under normal conditions, traction is almost exclusively on the front wheels, but as soon as the latter lose grip, in a few moments and without the need for any intervention by the driver, torque is gradually transferred to the rear axle as well. The look is made more “adventurous” by the protective strips in raw plastic on the sides and by the reinforced bumpers, also equipped with a bumper not painted in the color of the body. Two engines are available: 1.2 petrol with 60 bhp and, since the end of 2005, 1.3 Multijet diesel with 69 bhp, a unit which has made a decisive contribution to making the Panda 4×4 the best-selling off-road vehicle in Italy for three consecutive years, in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
LOTS OF ADVENTURE – With the Fiat Panda Crosspresented at the Bologna Motor Show of 2005 and inspired by the Simba concept, the Turin-based company winks at the world of SUVs for the first time. The mechanics are that of the normal Panda 4×4, on which rests a bodywork redesigned in the front (with bumpers of a new shape and two pairs of round headlights), in the sides (strengthened with a gray plastic band that also protects the fenders) and in the rear (also characterized by circular lights and plastic protections). The only engine available is the 69 HP 1.3 turbo-diesel. The standard equipment is quite complete, with manual climate control, alloy wheels and electronic stability control.
THE LAST HEIR? – On sale from 2012the current generation of the Panda 4×4 continues the tradition of small Fiat off-road vehicles inaugurated by its most distant ancestor in 1983. Higher from the ground, it benefits from a different set-up of steering, gearbox, suspension and brakes, all to enhance the skills of a great climber and agility in off-road that have made the fortune of the previous models. The permanent all-wheel drive system is electronically managed and is equipped with an electronic self-locking differential: called ELD (Electronic Locking Differential), it allows the driving force to be distributed between the wheels of the same axle when one or both of them start to lose grip. Much appreciated by the public and critics, in 2012 it was awarded by the British magazine Top Gear as the best SUV of the year. Even the most recent Panda 4×4 is declined in the most aggressive version Cross: launched in February 2014 at the Geneva Motor Show, it sports a look with a more pronounced off-road accent and thanks to some body modifications it boasts significantly higher angles of attack and exit than the normal model.
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