kindly panda

BROADSIDE VIEW: The Fiat Panda comes with all the standard safety features.
BROADSIDE VIEW: The Fiat Panda comes with all the standard safety features.

THE Fiat Panda might not be one of the most attractive cars on the road - depending on your definition of beauty - but it's a pretty little thing when it comes to driveability.

THE Fiat Panda might not be one of the most attractive cars on the road - depending on your definition of beauty - but it's a pretty little thing when it comes to driveability.

While serving the good purpose of being a reliable day-to-day car and family carrier, the Panda is also a funky-looking car that will easily grow on you.

You must be thinking I have gone out of my mind. Not at all, the Panda might look small but its interior is surprisingly spacious and will surprise even the harshest of critics.

I am generally not very fond of small cars - those that make me feel claustrophobic and moody - but the Panda is somehow different.

Another thing. Its dash-mounted gear lever makes for easy gear change and control.

Our test model was a 1,2-litre Dynamic and it blew my mind away. I expected the 1,2-litre to drive as slowly as a 90-year-old granny trying to outrun 200m specialist Maria Mutola.

But that was not to be. The Panda ran its race and finished with dignity - though not finishing the fastest. It has all the necessary features that are required by today's driver to survive city life.

These include electric windows, a radio-CD player and aircon.

No wonder it was Europe's best-selling car last year.

But, I couldn't shake the feeling of the "girly" label attached to the Panda.

Though it drives well and can be used by both sexes, it still seems a perfect fit for a smart young woman's garage.

Let's just say this Fiat is in touch with its feminine side.

The Panda is also well- equipped in the safety department. It comes standard with ABS (with EBD), dual-front airbags, remote central locking and a rolling code immobiliser.

Like I say, the Panda knows its way around.

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