The new Fiat Panda Cross, a car that was only launched in the UK three months ago, has scooped its first major off-roading honour - 4x4 of the Year 2009.
The award comes from the specialist magazine 4x4 and MPV Driver, whose panel of expert judges put the new all-terrain Fiat Panda at the top of a list of extremely capable, and more expensive, competitors.
The judges praised the Fiat Panda's off-roading capability, style and affordability but particularly highlighted the car's brilliant 1.3 16v MultiJet turbodiesel engine - previously unavailable in a right-hand drive Fiat Panda 4x4.
"The diesel engine has made a star out of Fiat's baby off-roader. It's a viable motorway cruiser now, while bringing out the fun side of the Cross' handling on twisty roads, something that is never at the expense of a surprisingly comfortable ride," says Bob Murray, editor, 4x4 and MPV Driver.
"The Fiat Panda Cross rewrites the rulebook for baby 4x4s in most areas, emerging as a capable all-rounder at a time when small is increasingly beautiful. We say it is the best new 4x4 launched in the past 12 months."
Andrew Humberstone, managing director, Fiat Group Automobiles UK, adds: "The Panda has a long and distinguished record in this country - as it has across Europe - and it's fantastic to see it not only continuing to be a top choice for our customers, but still able to impress very influential judging panels."
As with any Fiat Panda, the Cross' fuel consumption and emissions are exceptionally low. It returns 42.1 mpg in the urban cycle, 67.3 mpg extra-urban, and 54.3 combined. The CO2 figure is 136 g/km.
Standard equipment includes ESP, air conditioning, radio and MP3-compatible CD player with steering wheel audio controls, and electric power steering. One new colour is available: Rain Dance Green, which joins the existing Goa Orange, Cumbia Beige and Crossover Black.
At £11,995 on-the-road, the highly-competitive Fiat Panda Cross represents superb value for money and makes it the cheapest diesel 4x4 available in the UK.Published 27 November 2008