The sporty new Fiat Panda 100HP, ‘flagship’ of a revised and expanded 2007 Panda range, has just gone on sale in the UK.

The arrival of the Panda 100HP boosts the UK range to nine versions with a choice of six trim levels – Active, Dynamic, Dynamic Aircon, Dynamic Sky Dome, Eleganza, Alessi, 4×4 and 100HP – each offering unprecedented levels of equipment in this segment.

The two special equipment upgrades to the Dynamic version offer additional features of a value far exceeding the individual Pack costs. Panda Alessi, 4×4 and 100HP versions each benefit from unique, bespoke trim and equipment specifications.

The 2007 Fiat Panda range offers a choice of four low fuel consumption and low emissions powerplants. Fiat Auto’s widely acclaimed 1.3 litre 16-valve 70 bhp MultiJet turbodiesel is joined by three lively, refined and economical FIRE petrol engines – 1.1 litre 8-valve, 54 bhp; 1.2 litre 8-valve, 60 bhp; and a new 100 bhp version of Fiat’s spirited 1.4 litre 16-valve FIRE petrol engine, which powers the new Panda 100HP.

Both 1.1 and 1.2 litre petrol engines and the 1.3 litre turbodiesel are mated to 5-speed manual gearboxes, whilst the new 100 bhp 1.4 litre petrol unit in the Panda 100HP is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. The Panda 4×4, one of Europe’s most affordable four-wheel drive hatchbacks, features a variable torque distribution four-wheel drive transmission system. Dualogic – a clutchless, 5-speed sequential manual shift with a selectable fully automatic mode – is offered as an optional transmission on all 2WD 1.2 litre 8-valve models.

Following a highly successful introduction to mainland European markets in the autumn of 2003, the Fiat Panda went on sale here in January 2004, further reinforcing the company’s 60 year pedigree in the manufacture of small cars. By October 2006, Panda had easily outstripped a projected sales target of 200,000 units per annum, with 660,000 cars sold throughout western Europe in under three years, and a market share of some 30% – three times that of any rival.

Having won the prestigious pan-European Car of the Year 2004 (a title which Fiat Auto has won no less than 11 times, a record unmatched by any other manufacturer), Panda has continued to win over the UK automotive press, picking up a series of important awards including Auto Express Car of the Year, What Car? City Car of the Year and Top Gear Budget Car of the Year. As recently as June 2006, Panda won the City Car category in Auto Express magazine’s Annual New Car Honours for the third year in succession.

Born out of Fiat Auto’s philosophy that a compact, affordable car need not manifest itself as merely the poor relation of higher segment vehicles, the 2007 Panda range offers an unrivalled combination of design flair, build quality, interior space, flexibility, practicality, refinement, superior driving dynamics and affordability.

Within compact, urban-friendly exterior dimensions, the Fiat Panda’s unique design combines the road presence and elevated driving position of a small SUV and the space and flexible practicality of an MPV. However, thanks to MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension, together with an advanced platform, the Panda boasts driving dynamics far superior to those which so often relegate vehicles in this class to poor relation status.

2007 Panda offers levels of equipment more usually associated with cars of a higher segment. Electric front windows, central locking, Dualdrive electric power steering, twin front airbags and a stereo radio/CD player are fitted as standard in even the entry level, Active version. Moreover, the availability of up to six airbags, automatic climate control, parking sensors, a Sky Dome electric sunroof, steering wheel audio controls and a stereo CD with MP3 player, imbues the Fiat Panda with a level of on-board sophistication and refinement unusual in this class.

Within a bodyshell of exceptional torsional stiffness, the Panda offers a fully comprehensive array of both active and passive safety features. It remains the first car in its class to offer up to six airbags, whilst front seat belts with pretensioners and load limiter, three-point rear seat belts, and anti-submarining seats are all fitted as standard.

Fiat Auto has also equipped the 2007 Panda with the full range of braking, traction control, and stability systems available today: ABS anti-lock brakes complete with electronic brakeforce distribution, ASR to limit wheel slip during acceleration, MSR to modulate engine torque whilst changing down, and a sophisticated ESP to control stability whilst cornering – the only car in its class to offer this system. Vehicles fitted with ESP also benefit from hydraulic brake assistance and a unique Hill Holder function to facilitate smooth hill starts.

Building on Fiat’s unrivalled reputation as the world’s pre-eminent small car specialists, the 2007 Panda range’s combination of design flair, flexibility, practicality, refinement, technological innovation and outstanding value for money continues to set a benchmark for cars in this class, reflecting the increasing reluctance of car buyers to compromise at any level of the ownership experience, even in the lowest segments.

The front of the revised 2007 Panda range harmoniously blends powerful, rectilinear headlamps with an understated grille and deep front air dam incorporating foglights and urban-essential rubbing strips, making it instantly recognisable as a member of the Fiat family, and also rewarding the car with one of the best Cd figures in its class – 0.33.

In profile, Panda is characterised by large, bow shaped windows linked via blacked out door pillars to the rear quarterlight. This affords maximum glazing to the cabin space, whilst creating a graphic motif unique to the car and hinting at the raised driving position and MPV-style practicality within.

This practicality is further reinforced by a full height, top-hinged tailgate, flanked by high visibility rear lamp ‘towers’ designed to offer full width access to the loadspace throughout the low-silled aperture.

The ultra-compact exterior dimensions of the Fiat Panda – 1.58 m wide, 1.54 m high and 3.54 m long, with a wheelbase of just 2.30 m – belie an exceptionally spacious, flexible interior.

The vehicle boasts an overall passenger room coefficient of more than 68%, one of the best in its class. And, thanks to an innovative split/folding and sliding rear seat, the 206 litre luggage compartment may be quickly and easily increased to 236 litres.

The combination of a raised driving position, height adjustable seat, rake adjustable steering wheel and generous glazing offers Panda drivers a comfortable, highly adaptable driving position allied to excellent all-round visibility. Unrivalled driver ergonomics have been achieved through painstaking detailing and the careful placement of all switchgear.

Complementing a clear, functional driver’s instrument binnacle, the prominent, high quality centre console raises the gear lever to within the closest practical proximity of the steering wheel, allowing for quick, accurate changes with minimal physical effort. Careful consideration has gone into the placement of all other console based functions, with the stereo radio placed at the highest level to offer ease of access with minimal driver distraction.

Extensive cabin storage includes two enclosed dashboard compartments, generous door pockets, centre console cup holders and a removable rear parcel shelf.

The seats, produced in accordance with principles developed by Professor Dal Monte, head of the Biometrics Department at the CONI Sport medicine Institute, are exceptionally comfortable, devoting particular attention to passenger posture and lateral containment.

The Fiat Panda offers a choice of four rear seating solutions: one piece with two or three places, 50:50 split with two places, and 50:50 split/sliding with two places. Both the latter also have ISOFIX child seat attachments. All options come with a one piece cushion with anti-submarining function and a fully folding backrest for greatly enlarged load carrying capacity.

The one piece backrest can include a third, inertia reel seatbelt, whilst the two place, 50:50 split option offers even greater loadspace flexibility. The sliding seat, 50:50 split option boasts the added advantage of rake adjustable backrests and the ability to boost loadspace by 30 litres without the need to fold down either seat back. In all cases, the seat folding mechanism may be operated from inside either the passenger or luggage compartments.

A comprehensive range of accessories includes rubber or carpet matting, assorted loadspace nets including a dog containment screen, a demountable load compartment tray, transverse roof bars and a wide selection of child seats, including a bespoke Kiddy ISOFIX seat for children up to 40 lb.

2007 Panda comes in a choice of ten body colours, of which five are new: Surf azure, Cumbia beige, Samba orange, Electroclash grey and New Orleans blue. A choice of eight stylish, durable, cabin upholstery finishes, is available; the Fiat Panda being the only car in this class to have 99% of its interior surface lined, setting new class standards for quality and comfort.

The new Panda 100HP is instantly recognisable as the sporting ‘flagship’ of the 2007 model year line-up thanks to a revised exterior design which features new front and rear bumpers and enlarged wheel arches which flair into new sideskirts.

A chrome exhaust tail pipe, body coloured door handles and wing mirrors, front foglights and a tailgate spoiler are all fitted as standard, and the Panda 100HP is also equipped with all-new, bespoke, 15″ alloy wheels shod with 195/45 x 15 tyres. The brakes have been uprated with the fitment of larger (257 mm) front discs and solid (240 mm) rear discs; while the suspension has also been significantly modified in terms of dampers, springs, bushes and compliance.

Panda 100HP is geared towards a younger audience who are in the market for a driving experience that’s both sporty and fun, and as such, the Panda 100HP represents a particularly appealing proposition. With an OTR price of under £10,000, and low insurance costs, (Group 5), it is also one of the best value-for-money packages for those seeking performance and handling, combined with low running costs and low emissions. This vehicle has been designed to put a smile on the face of the driver, with entirely usable performance, and its obvious competitors are generally less powerful, less well equipped and more expensive.

On board, the Panda 100HP is characterised by a sporting, dark grey dashboard and bespoke black and grey upholstery trim. A leather steering wheel and gear knob, height adjustable driver’s seat, split/folding rear seats, automatic climate control, Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity and a new ‘Sport’ button for enhanced steering and throttle sensitivity, are all fitted as standard.

The latest addition to the 2007 Panda model range is available in a choice of four colours; New Orleans blue, Rumba red, Darkwave black and, unique to the Panda 100HP, Electroclash grey.

Derived from a concept car that made its debut at the 2004 Paris Motorshow, the Fiat Panda Alessi demonstrates the innovative and stylish outcome of a unique collaboration between two brands that are world-renowned for their contribution to the development of Italian industrial design.

Externally, the unmistakable Panda Alessi retains all the key design cues of the much acclaimed standard model, but adds a number of new styling and colour details to the front grille, door mouldings, rear aerial and wheel arch trims. The Panda Alessi is instantly recognisable through an original hubcap design which features Alessi’s ‘little man’ figure, as well as roof bars and white side stripes, plus a choice of three bespoke body colours: Narciso orange, Tagliente green and Cattivo black.

On board, the instrument dial graphics and the seat fabric and colour – available in orange or green – have also been revised, and the climate control system surround and gearbox shield are treated with a distinctive metallic paint finish. The fully redesigned tunnel console incorporates a unique, round storage compartment – ideal as a CD holder – and a silicone-formed mobile phone holder.

The expanded, 2007 Fiat Panda range, (prices effective from 01 January 2007), is as follows:

1.1 8v Active £6,890
1.2 8v Dynamic £7,290
1.2 8v Dynamic Aircon £7,840
1.2 8v Dynamic Sky Dome £7,840
1.3 16v MultiJet Dynamic £8,160
1.2 8v Eleganza £8,490
1.2 8v Alessi £8,995
1.2 8v 4×4 £9,495
1.4 16v 100HP £9,995