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The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.6

Cheap and cheerful has always been the Panda's motto and the Fiat Panda 100HP version adds a dash of sportiness. It's not the fastest, but it's certainly one of the most charming and affordable.

Reasons to buy

  • Sporty looking exterior
  • Peppy performance
  • Low running costs

How practical is it? 3/5

Headroom is very impressive all round, as the Panda is quite a tall car, while front seat passengers aren’t short of legroom. Those in the rear will probably find things a bit tight though, as the Panda’s short dimensions limit its cabin space. The boot is 206 litres – better than a MINI or Mitsubishi Colt, but smaller than the Suzuki Swift’s 213 litres. The driver’s seat is height-adjustable.

What's it like to drive? 4/5

Handling is significantly sharper than that of the standard Panda. The city button, which makes the steering extremely light in the normal car, has been replaced by a sport button that instead makes the steering firmer. There’s very little in the way of body roll and the steering is much sharper. The brakes have also been upgraded, so the 100HP stops more willingly than the conventional Panda.

How powerful is it? 4/5

It isn’t particularly fast, but the Panda 100HP is certainly peppy and great fun to drive flat out. And that’s its appeal, as the modest power allows the driver to keep their foot to the floor most of the time, which is a tremendous giggle. Expect 0-62mph in 9.5 seconds. The 1.4-litre engine responds well to a bit of revving and the six-speed gearbox has a snappy action and is equally happy when it’s being worked hard.

How much will it cost me? 4/5

An average of 43.5mpg is reasonable, but there are plenty of other small, sporty hatchbacks, like the SEAT Ibiza FR with 60.1mpg, that can better it. Emissions of 154g/km drop it into tax band G. At insurance group 11, it’s hardly expensive, so the Panda 100HP is certainly one of the more affordable warm hatches out there.

How reliable is it? 3/5

Fiat is just outside the top ten manufacturers according to the Reliability Index, and Fiat is constantly improving the reliability of its cars.

How safe is it? 3/5

All Pandas get twin front airbags as standard, while side and curtain airbags are optional extras. A EuroNCAP score of three stars is disappointing for a modern car, but the Panda has been around since 2003 in its current guise, so it is starting to feel its age a little. Anti-lock brakes are standard and the 100HP also has bigger brakes than the standard Panda as well as electronic brake force distribution. Stability control is an option.

How much equipment do I get? 4/5

As Fiat Pandas go, the 100HP is about as well-equipped as they come. It has electric front windows, climate control, a CD stereo, electrically-adjustable and heated wing mirrors, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a leather steering wheel and gear knob. A body kit, a bespoke grille design and 15-inch alloy wheels set it apart from standard Pandas, too.

Why buy? 4/5

It’s just quick enough to be interesting and you can have a lot of fun in a Panda 100HP without fearing for your driving licence. Ownership costs are pleasingly low, too.