Fiat has announced that its new Panda Cross will be available to order from Q4 of this year, with prices starting from £15,945 for the TwinAir model, or £16,945 for the diesel.

Based on the Fiat Panda 4×4, the Panda Cross features more rugged styling, bigger tyres and increased ground clearance.

From the outside, the Panda Cross wears a new chunky bumper with scratch-resistant corner sections and a large silver ‘ultrashine’ skid-plate, through which poke a pair of LED running lights and red-painted tow hooks.

New headlights with a black surround and adjacent fog lights round out the changes to the front.

From the side, there are protective wheel-arch extensions, door side mouldings with more ‘ultrashine’ inserts, matching roof bars, and 15-inch alloy wheels, while the rear receives new light clusters and a large skid-plate that features – yup, you guessed it – more ‘ultrashine’.

The interior has been funkified, too, with natural fabrics and ‘eco-leather’ bolsters, a new copper colour for the dashboard, and yet more of that ultrashine stuff.

There’s also a new Terrain Control selector down by the gear-lever, and this allows drivers to switch between Auto, Off-Road and Hill Descent Control modes.

Auto allows the ‘Torque on Demand’ four-wheel-drive system to distribute torque between front and rear axles as necessary.  In normal driving, 98% is sent to the front axle, with an electro-hydraulically controlled multi-plate centre differential capable of transferring up to 100% of engine torque to the rear axle if required.  It’s said to be able to react to changes in conditions within a tenth of a second.

Off-Road mode can be used at speeds of up to 30mph and automatically engages the Electronic Locking Differential (ELD), disengages the ASR traction control, and uses the ESC stability control to apply the brakes to slow a spinning wheel.

Hill Descent Control uses the ABS and ESC systems to maintain a constant speed on downward slopes, activating automatically below 15mph and remaining on standby up to 30mph.

The standard Panda 4×4 is already a capable beast, but the new Panda Cross should be even more so.  It wears larger 185/65R15 Mud & Snow tyres and features a revised suspension set-up that provides 161mm of ground clearance for the TwinAir model and 158mm for the MultiJet diesel.  For the statisticians, the Panda Cross has a 24 degree approach angle, 34 degree departure angle and a 21 degree break-over.

The engine’s air intake has been raised by 739mm in the diesel version and 711mm in the TwinAir, too.

Speaking of engines, the Panda Cross range starts with the 0.9-litre TwinAir turbo petrol unit that develops 90hp and 145Nm of torque.  It tackles the 0-62mph sprint in 12.0 seconds, tops out at 104mph, returns 57.6mpg on the combined cycle and emits 114 g/km of CO2.

The 1.3-litre MutiJet II turbodiesel, meanwhile, produces 80hp and 190Nm of torque, but takes 14.3 seconds to achieve 62mph and runs out of puff at 99mph.  Economy comes in at 60.1mpg with CO2 emissions of 125 g/km.

Standard equipment on both models includes climate control, Bluetooth, heated door mirrors and remote locking, while goodies such as heated seats, parking sensors, and privacy glass remain on the options list.

The Fiat Panda Cross is expected to go on sale in the UK from Q4 2014 priced from £15,945 for the TwinAir petrol and £16,945 for the MultiJet diesel.

Engine1.3 MultiJet 80hp S&S0.9 TwinAir 90hp S&S
Compression Ratio16.8:110:1
Maximum Power80hp @ 4,000rpm90hp @ 5,500
Maximum Torque190Nm / 140lb ft @ 1,500rpm145Nm / 107lb ft @ 1,900 – 3,000rpm
Transmission4X4 with ELD and ESC5-speed manual4X4 with ELD and ESC6-speed manual with low 1st ratio
BrakesFront 257 X 22mm vented discs. Rear 240 X 11 solid discs
SuspensionFront independent MacPherson struts, lower wishbones. Rear torsion beam
DimensionsL 3,705mm X W 1,662mm (1,882 incl. mirrors) X H 1,657mm  WB 2,300mm
CapacitiesBoot: 225 m3 (VDA), Fuel 35 litres
Kerb Weight DIN1,155kg1,090kg
Max Towing Weight900kg braked, 400kg non-braked800kg braked, 400kg non-braked
Performance0-62mph 14.3s, 99mph0-62mph 12.0s, 104mph
Fuel EconomyUrban: 56.5 mpg / 5.0l/100kmExtra Urban: 61.4mpg / 4.6l/100km

Combined: 60.1mpg / 4.7l/100km

Urban: 47.9 mpg / 5.9l/100kmExtra Urban: 65.7mph / 4.3l/100km

Combined: 57.6mpg / 4.9l/100km

AnglesApproach 24 degrees / Breakover  21 degrees / Departure 34 degrees70 percent maximum gradient / 55 percent maximum lateral gradient
Ground Clearance158mm161mm
Base Price£16,945 OTR£15,945 OTR