Fiat Panda 100HP | Spotted

They don't make pocket rockets like the Panda anymore – pity

By Matt Bird / Wednesday, 31 August 2022 / Loading comments

The conventional city car is a dying breed. Without the demand (because buyers want larger, more profitable SUVs), the enthusiasm from manufacturers for making small, simple, cheap cars just isn’t there. Why make cars that customers aren’t as keen on for less profit than those more popular ones with greater margins? It would make no sense. Especially with the rise of electric making small combustion engines hard to justify. When even the Fiat 500 only offers electrified powertrains and even the Toyota Aygo is offered in crossover-style ‘X’ guise, the situation doesn’t look great.

And that’s a shame, because there’s no joy quite like the small, light, uncomplicated fast car. Launched back in 2006, the Panda 100HP was the perfect example of the breed. It took a bigger engine from a larger car (in this case a Punto’s 1.4, as well as its six-speed manual), lowered and stiffened the suspension, added a Sport mode to sharpen the throttle, fitted some stylish new alloy wheels and offered really keen buyers the option of stickers as well. It was a textbook pocket rocket overhaul.

A very good one, too. The Panda 100HP won over fans with its revvy engine, short ratio gearbox and wheel-at-each-corner agility. Oh sure, it was stiff, but better a junior hot hatch that’s a bit too up for fun than not interested enough. And stiff by the standards of the mid-2000s is most likely plush nowadays. Add that enticing list price and perfectly judged styling refresh (remember the Panda this is derived from will be 20 years old next year) and the appeal of the 100HP in a simpler car buying time is plain to see.

Even today, there’s plenty going for the Panda. What was designed to be small and cheap will still be small and cheap; that’ll mean a less refined, busier experience than a more modern hatch, but not much to go wrong as well. Confounding the stereotypes, the 100HP has proven pretty mechanically tough as well – even with fairly regular cambelt changes necessary. And it’ll still do 40mpg.

This Panda looks a great example, with one owner from new, what’s described as ‘superb’ service history, fairly low mileage of less than 70k and the all-important cambelt and water pump just done. As numbers have dwindled and interest increased, so the Panda’s values have climbed – to beyond cars like the Twingo 133 and Swift Sport – but £5k for a proper little Italian classic still seems like pretty good value. Pay this money for an (admittedly faster) Abarth 500 and it could have twice the mileage. And there will already be six on your street.

It’s not going to be a luxurious drive, certainly – anyone looking for a lavishly lined cabin and expensive details best look elsewhere. But for sheer driving fun on a modest budget, there’s still not much to rival the Panda 100HP – just as it was 15 years ago.


Engine: 1,368cc, four-cyl
Transmission: 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): [email protected],000rpm
Torque (lb ft): [email protected],250rpm
First registered: 2009
Recorded mileage: 68,347
Price new: £9,995
Yours for: £5,000

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