Fiat to create 'family of cars' from the Panda | CAR Magazine

Fiat to create 'family of cars' from the Panda

Published: 22 April 2024 Updated: 22 April 2024

► Fiat to create own sub-brand using the Panda
► Panda line-up will focus on practicality and low cost
► New Panda city car expected to be revealed in July

Fiat is to create a ‘family’ of cars based on the Panda as the firm plots a 500-like expansion out of one of its best-loved nameplates.

Following the virtual reveal of five Panda concept cars last month, Fiat’s head of design François Leboine has spoken about wanting to make a ‘bigger Panda’ and make a more practical line-up of cars to sit alongside the 500 range, inspired by the original Panda.

Fiat has hinted that four of the five design concepts could make production, with the first – a new Panda city car – expected to be revealed on 11 July 2024. By 2027 the Italian brand wants to have a full line-up of Panda models on sale, which it refers to as a ‘LEGO box’.

A new Panda, haven’t I heard that before?

Cast your mind back to the 2019 Geneva Motor Show and you might remember the CentoVenti concept – a car that was meant to preview the next Fiat Panda. Cool, cutesy, available as an EV, and designed to replace a car that was already ageing at the time.

Nothing ever materialised, but Fiat is now back with a concept that promises to be its new city car. Dubbed the Mega-Panda, it will be larger than the current version, and is said to be inspired by the oval shape of Fiat’s iconic Lingotto test track on the roof of its former Turin factory, including on details such as the dashboard, infotainment screen and seats. Don’t worry, there won’t be any oval-shaped steering wheels. Fiat says the CentoVenti concept has helped to inspire this new family of cars as well.

Fiat Panda concept rear

The electric Panda looks set to evolve into more of a small crossover (surprise, surprise), with greater interior space than the current car and a big focus on sustainable materials. 

A Fiat pick-up returns to Europe?

Fiat didn’t have huge success with its last pick-up sold in Europe, the Fullback Cross – a rebadged Mitsubishi L200. Yet Fiat’s trucks are massive in other parts of the globe, with the Fiat Stada being Brazil’s best-selling vehicle. 

Fiat pick-up concept rear

The firm is saying that this new pick-up can have ‘success at a global level’ and has even said it will likely be introduced in Europe. Leboine confirmed the introduction of the truck as part of the Panda expansion, saying it will be ‘smaller than average’ and be in-tune with Fiat’s mission to keep its vehicles compact yet practical.

A new fastback

Next up in Fiat’s grand plan is a new fastback, replacing a car with the same name in Brazil, as well as the Tipo. While a bit of a sales disaster in the UK, elsewhere – such as the Middle East – the Tipo is a huge success.

Fiat fastback concept rear

The new fastback concept looks more SUV than sleek hatchback, likely replicating the Peugeot 408 for Fiat. 

The Giga-Panda

Fiat looks to be doing what it managed with the 500 by stretching – quite literally – this car as big as possible. Dubbed the Giga-Panda, this concept teases a ‘spacious family SUV’, something which Fiat is currently lacking. 

Fiat goes camping

Fiat’s fifth and final concept shown at its little Geneva show is a camper van. Called a ‘trusty companion’, Fiat says this concept pays homage to the ‘fun-ctionality’ of the original Panda from the 80s, and it’s based on the SUV. This seems to be the Fiat concept least likely to make production.

Fiat camper van concept front

Where do these sit alongside the 500 line-up?

Fiat had mixed fortunes with the expansion of its line-up, especially at the upper end of the scale. Remember the ill-fated seven-seat 500L MPW?

Fiat says it now splits its cars into two ranges – the 500-inspired ‘Dolcevita’ brand, which also includes the 600e and Citroen Ami-based Topolino. And there will be the Pandas on the other side.

Leboine calls it the ‘two sides of our brain, depending on the type of customers we have’ and says there will be ‘no limit’ on how far the Panda brand can be pushed.

By Ted Welford

Senior staff writer at CAR and our sister website Parkers. Loves a car auction. Enjoys making things shiny