Fiats that Panda to you

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Upgraded 1.2 Dynamic and the option of a new MTA box

Thanks to a small helping of cosmetic surgery and the addition of an all-new gearbox, Fiat’s Panda is once again the very epitome of metropolitan chic.

With over two million of the current model in circulation, this 2004 European Car of the Year is still the best-selling A-segment vehicle in Europe and has been since 2003. In fact, production of our little ‘un has gone up, thanks in part to the scrappage incentives that were in force throughout much of Europe in 2009. The result is that Fiat’s Tychy plant in Poland churns out one new Panda every 35 seconds.

Incidentally, the Tychy plant where the Panda is produced is part of an automotive industry world élite, as recently confirmed by the award of a Silver Level following a ‘Word Class Manufacturing’ international audit for the use of the best and most effective production process management methods. All this has a direct impact on the quality of cars produced: for example, the Fiat Panda achieved first place in the city car category – segments A and B – in a reliability league table published by ADAC (German Automobile Club).

But, back to the topic at hand: the Panda range for South Africa has just received a style and substance injection with the introduction of the latest incarnation of the Panda 1.2 Dynamic manual (Model Year 2010) as well as a new addition to the 1.2 Dynamic line-up in the guise of the 1.2 Dynamic MTA aka as the Dualogic automatic gearbox – the latter being a first for this class of car. Dropped from the current range are the 1.1 Active and the 4×4 Climbing models.

So, what’s new?

Well, as the saying goes, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it! This is very much the Panda maxim, so aesthetic tinkering is limited to the following:

  1. New design side mirrors (they’re also colour-coded)
  2. New design wheel covers
  3. Revised front grille with extra colour coding
  4. Front headlight lens change
  5. Updated seat trim (colour ways are Grey & Blue, Grey & Red and Grey & Yellow) now featuring fully padded and upholstered headrests
  6. Four new colours – Magenta, Goldmetal Blue (dark), Cha Cha Azure (light metallic blue) and Tropicalia Yellow
  7. Roof rail (optional) now in a brushed stainless steel finish for the centre beam

And the new Auto box?

MTA (Manual Transmission Automated) also known as Dualogic automatic transmission is available as an option on the new Panda 1.2 Dynamic. In essence, it is a clutchless, 5-speed sequential manual shift with a selectable fully automatic mode. This innovative transmission system features a servo automated clutch and gear lever, whilst retaining all the attributes of a dry clutch and manual gearbox; low weight, strength, reliability and fuel economy.

Two operating modes are selectable; semi-automatic and automatic. In the absence of a clutch pedal, fast, accurate gear changing in semi-automatic mode simply requires the movement of the lever forward to change up and back to change down.

Once the Panda has been started, brake pedal pressure allows the selection of either first or reverse gear (second gear may be selected to aid traction in slippery conditions). To ensure safety and prevent unsolicited gear changes, the system automatically engages neutral when the engine is still running and the door is opened. MTA also prevents gear changing errors that risk damage to engine or transmission, reinforced with both visual and aural alarms.

In fully automatic mode, MTA offers two options: Normal and Economy. The Normal option offers outstanding driving comfort through the smoothest gearchanges under all conditions. Pressing the Economy button on the gear control panel offers reduced fuel consumption whilst maintaining first class driving comfort.

The MTA system offers the ideal compromise for those who prefer an automatic gearbox for day to day use, but do not wish to relinquish the driver involvement and satisfaction of a manual change.

Summary of features (1.2 Dynamic Manual and MTA)

  • MPV practicality in a compact form
  • Colour-coded bumpers
  • 1.2-litre 8v 44kW engine (102Nm @ 2500rpm)
  • 0-100km/h = 14 seconds (the same for both manual and MTA)
  • 5,6 L /100km in the combined cycle (the same for both manual and MTA)
  • Dash-mounted gear lever / MTA selector
  • ABS with EBD
  • Dual front airbags
  • Electric Power steering with City function
  • Remote central locking with rolling code immobiliser
  • Air conditioning
  • Dash-integrated sound system with CD front loader (built-in equalizer)
  • Rear headrests
  • Front electric windows
  • On-board computer
  • 1.2 Dynamic manual R125 900
  • 1.2 Dynamic MTA R141 000
  • 1.4 16v 100HP R154 200

Options for the 1.2 Dynamics include Metallic paint (R1 500), CD changer (R4 260), 14″ alloys (R3 340), front fogs (R2010) and sunroof (R8 020). All prices are inclusive of VAT.