The international Car of the Year jury, composed of 58 senior motoring journalists representing 22 European countries, has just voted the new Fiat Panda Car of the Year 2004.
With 281 votes, the Fiat Panda beat the Mazda3 (241), Volkswagen Golf (241), Toyota Avensis (219), Opel/Vauxhall Meriva (213), BMW 5 Series (144) and the Nissan Micra (111).
As well as being the resounding overall winner of Car of the Year 2004, the ultra-compact Fiat also attracted votes from the widest number of jury members: 55 out of 58 included the Panda in their nominations, while no less than 16 rated it top of their list.
This prestigious accolade for the new Panda underlines the remarkable record of achievement by Fiat Auto in these nominations. No less than five of the last 10 annual Car of the Year awards have been won by Fiat Auto: Fiat Punto in ’95, Fiat Bravo/Brava in ’96, Alfa 156 in ’98, Alfa 147 in ’01 and now Fiat Panda in ’04.
This is the first time that an A-segment model has won the most prestigious accolade in the car industry.
The Car of the Year award ceremony, this year organised by the French L’Automobile Magazine, will take place in Paris on 19 January 2004.
Car of the Year was launched in 1964. In order to be admitted to the competition, new cars have to be commercially launched in at least five different European countries during the course of the year. The following parameters are then assessed: design, comfort, safety, fuel economy, driveability, performance, practicality, respect for the environment, price and value for money.
A shortlist is made from all the new models launched by the industry during the year, and seven finalists go forward to be judged. Each member of the jury has 25 points to award among the seven cars, with a maximum of 10 points for the first choice.
A Successful Debut
Presented to the international media on 2 September, the new Fiat Panda immediately elicited great interest and favourable comments from over 1000 journalists from 21 countries who had come to Lisbon for the launch of the new model.
This critical acclaim was immediately confirmed by the reaction of customers. The first dealer ‘Open Day’ held in Italy on 13/14 September attracted over 500,000 visitors to 700 Fiat outlets in Italy. This extraordinary reception has been underwritten by 95,000 customer orders for new Panda in Europe, in the first two months alone.
All of this stems from a car which is relatively small on the outside, but which contains levels of comfort and refinement that you would normally associate with a big car. It has been designed to be low on fuel consumption, yet it is responsive and agile; ideal in city traffic but at the same time perfect for longer journeys, guaranteeing its passengers a relaxing trip.
Thanks to Panda’s combination of attractive features, low running costs and strong residual value, Fiat has thus been able to confirm its key role in the evolution of this sector, where the company has been a leading player for so long, from the first Fiat 600 to the 500, from the 126 to the first Panda, from the Cinquecento to the Seicento.Published 19 November 2003