1993 Fiat Panda 1000 Fire 1.0i FIRE from UK and Ireland
The most surprising car I've seen yet - would buy another tomorrow!
Thermostat jammed closed at 75'000 miles. New part cost £12.75 from a local parts centre, and was in theory simple to fit. Unfortunately, the bolt holes in the new part failed to line up correctly, and led to damage to the tapped holes in the cylinder head, which then had to be re-tapped, and another thermostat being fitted. This incident was the only one ever to completely immobilise the vehicle.
Small water leak around thermostatic switch for radiator fan, cured with a bottle of Radweld.
Oil filter rusted through at 80'000 miles (1 week before service was due, I suspect that it was not changed at the last service as it should have been.
Mystery electrical glitch causing "check engine" light to appear from time to time, appeared to cure itself, I suspect water ingress into sensor wiring somewhere as it appeared to disappear as soon as the weather dried out.
Reversing light ceased to work on various occasions, a minor alteration to the bulb (adding an extra blob of solder the the end contact) and wedging some tinfoil around the bulb holder cured this.
Minor oil leak from sump oil seal, not serious enough to warranty repair, as it's remained constant for the last 2 years.
Front wiper arm flew off - replaced next day with one from a scrap yard.
Exhaust pipe sheared at join just behind the catalytic converter - welded back together at no cost, still working a year on.
Tracking kept creeping out of alignment, leading to extremely rapid front tyre wear.
Fuel leak from high pressure pump on tank, as yet uncured and no one seems to have the parts.
The list above may seem extensive, but the thermostat was the only item that actually immobilised the car, and the rest have all been easily sorted on a Sunday afternoon - even in the pouring rain.
Tasks under the bonnet usually seems to be simple enough in principle, but access can be awkward at times to say the least, but it's a small car, so one tends to expect that.
In the winter, when the roads fill in with snow, the little Panda startled us with its ability to plough on through drifts which had stopped many four by fours, sheer grip on ice, and impeccable starting in all weathers - even if the doors did freeze up on a daily basis requiring me to climb in through the boot and get the heater going before they could be opened.
On the roads in normal weather, she's a surprisingly quick little beast, easily outstripping Fiestas and most equivalently sized cars, while still returning an average of between 60 and 65mpg, once on a long run we managed to average 69.5mpg over 300 miles. Need I say more about economy?
The interior's basic, but more roomy than one would expect for the size of car, and with the rear seats down can take a ridiculously large amount of luggage. Front seats are comfortable enough, but the rear one can become uncomfortable after anything more than about half an hour. Even if it did look smart in our cars case, where everything short of the black dash and grey headlining was colour co-ordinated with the car. No grumbles about the build quality as nothing stopped working or fell off.
In all, this has been one of, if not the best car we've ever had; it gets us the same places our old Sierra did, at the same speed, in reasonable comfort, and costs pennies to run. If you can get one, buy it.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 30th August, 2002