► New Fiat Panda due to relaunch in July 2024
► Promises to be ‘cool, practical and affordable’
► Will go global with hybrid and EV tech
Fiat boss Olivier Francois has hinted he will soon relaunch the Panda on the global market – and CAR’s exclusive artist’s impression above previews the chic Italianate wardrobe being designed in Turin for its new small car.
At the unveiling of the new Fiat 600e, Francois pencilled in another launch event for 11 July 2024 – and it will become the first of at least three new car launches for Fiat over the next three years.
He suggested the new Panda will use the 2019 Centoventi concept (pictured below) as its starting point, saying: ‘The 600, 500 and Topolino [all share] this more vintage, emotional design that we are unveiling today. Centoventi is definitely part of what we are going to see next year.
‘I’m not confirming that we are going to see Centoventi,’ he said. ‘Many things about Centoventi were explorations. But obviously, what you are going to see in the future, you will recognise a lot of inspiration from the Centoventi. So, we didn’t abandon it. It is our love.’
Francois also promised this new car would also help Fiat return to its roots as a people’s car brand. He said: ‘the one that you are going to see in a year [will be] cool, practical, affordable, popular. The popular, democratic side of Fiat – like the Uno and the Punto maybe.’
The current Panda is ripe for replacement; the third generation was first launched in 2011 and soldiers on to this day, priced from £14,740.
How big will this new car be?
Francois explained: ‘We want to occupy the B-segment. It’s too early to speak [about] it, but there’s probably room to make another B-segment more in the democratic, essential space. So, will this B-segment be a big A, you know, like the Panda [pictured below] or will it be something else? Too early to tell – but I think that clearly our offering in the around-four-metre cars could accommodate another product.’
Given that, we reckon the new Panda will be about the same size as the 600e. However, it’ll probably be a bit less SUV-shaped, adopting the lower-slung hatchback silhouette of the Centoventi. And to fit that ‘essential’ brief, we’re also expecting lots of rugged plastic body cladding to both cut Fiat’s finishing costs and protect the vehicle from parking knocks.
Its circa four-metre length means it won’t be based on the same platform as the 500e. Francois told us that car’s dimensions are pretty much fixed – his engineers simply can’t stretch it to the size of a Volkswagen Polo. That means that Fiat will likely leverage its Stellantis partnership and base the next Panda on a version of the same e-CMP2 architecture as the 600e and Jeep Avenger.
Do we know what will power the new Panda?
If it’s based on e-CMP2, it’ll obviously be offered with a pure-electric powertrain. However, to ensure the Panda is attractive on the global stage, Fiat will also need to sell the car with a hybrid system. Take South America. EVs aren’t as widespread there, but Fiat commands a 24% share of the market. That’s a lot of business to throw away if it doesn’t offer a combustion option.
The mechanically similar Jeep Avenger will be sold with a plug-in hybrid powertrain from 2024. However, that’ll be far too expensive for the value-driven Panda, so we expect it’ll pinch the new 48V mild-hybrid system that’ll be introduced on the facelifted Peugeot 2008 in 2024.
The long-awaited MHEV system will pair Peugeot’s familiar 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine with a new six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox with an integrated electric motor. Apparently, the system will allow the 2008 to run on electric power for 50% of the time around town and will cut fuel consumption by 15%. Expect the same promises for the Panda.