AT12MARSometimes it is the least likely cars that prove the most fun to drive. When the previous generation Fiat Panda first made an appearance, its tall, boxy shape made it easy to dismiss as a no thrills shopping car. And yes, while its short overhangs made it ideal in the Tesco’s car park, its revvy engines and fun handling also appealed to keen drivers. Thankfully, the new Panda is the same.

The front-end styling has been tweaked to give it a less anonymous face, and in profile it looks far less box-like, but there’s no mistaking it’s a Panda. The high roof-line and stubby hatchback give a distinct aesthetic and make the little Fiat quite a practical proposition.

Fiat Panda

Fiat have strived to make the Panda as safe as possible. Even entry-level versions come with four airbags, double seatbelt pre-tensioners and anti-whiplash headrests. Euro NCAP awarded the Panda four stars. It would have been the full five had the test model been available with all the electronic safety measures that are fitted to customer cars.

So, easily digestible looks, decent usability and safe in a crash, the Fiat Panda makes a good case for itself. Then you get to its trump card: value for money. Prices start from £8,900 on the road, with the top-of-the-range model coming in at a reasonable £12,250. In terms of smiles per pound, you’ll be hard pushed to beat it.

I want this car

12-plate wish list

Feb 01: Hyundai i40 Tourer
Feb 02: Audi A4
Feb 03: Ford Focus
Feb 06: Citroen DS4
Feb 07: Volkswagen up!
Feb 08: Vauxhall Astra GTC
Feb 09: Audi A1 Sportback
Feb 10: Renault Scenic
Feb 13: Subaru XV
Feb 14: Renault Twingo (video)
Feb 15: MINI Coupe
Feb 16: Nissan LEAF
Feb 17: MINI Coupe (video)
Feb 20: Hyundai i30
Feb 21: Chevrolet Camaro
Feb 22: Porsche 911 (video)
Feb 23: Kia Picanto
Feb 24: BMW 1-Series
Feb 27: Honda Civic
Feb 28: Hyundai Veloster