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All-New FIAT Panda 4X4 to Debut at Paris Salon By Brian Foley

The all-new FIAT Panda 4x4 makes its debut at the Paris Motor Show on September 27th 2012. Thirty years since the original was launched, the third-generation Panda 4X4 remains the only all-wheel-drive vehicle in the city-car segment and thanks to its light weight construction, robust powertrain and compact footprint it has a surprising degree of off-road ability with good on-road manners and overall refinement.

To reduce mechanical drag and wear-and-tear, as well as improve fuel economy and lower emissions, the FIAT Panda 4x4 operates in front-wheel drive mode during normal driving condition, but when the vehicle's sensors detect a loss of traction torque is automatically and immediately transmitted to the rear wheels via an electronically-controlled central coupling.

For added control, both ESC (Electronic Stability Control) and ELD (Electronic Locking Differential) are standard, the latter providing additional traction on slippery terrain (snow, ice, mud etc.) by directing torque to the wheels with the most grip by braking the slipping wheels. ELD is activated at the press of a button and operates up to speeds of 50 km/h.

The all-new suspension offers improved on-road handling and comfort despite the increased ground clearance and heavier-duty components. The front utilises a McPherson strut format while the rear suspension employs a torsion beam setup in lieu of the previous model's semi-trailing layout. This option offers weight, ride-quality and acoustic benefits without compromising off-road performance. Additional under-floor protection is provided to prevent damage in tough off-road terrain.

Two engine options are the 85hp TwinAir Turbo and the 75hp 1.3 MultiJet II Turbo-Diesel, both with Start&Stop as standard. The TwinAir Turbo features a 6-speed manual gearbox with low-range first gear for improved uphill starts, while the new MultiJet II engine is further mproved for off-road situations thanks to a torque increase of 30 percent versus the current Panda 4X4.

Styling revisions include new bumpers with metal-effect inserts; wheel arch extensions, side skirts and door cladding constructed from scratch-resistant black plastic (complete with recessed "4X4" logo) and unique 15-inch alloy wheels. Two unique 4X4 colours, "Sicilia" orange and "Toscana" green metallic are also offered, complete with matching interior detailing.

FIAT Group Automobiles Ireland is waiting for confirmation of 2013 VRT and Road Tax revisions before making a decision on the availability of the all-new FIAT Panda 4X4 in Ireland. The outgoing FIAT Panda 4X4, which sold out rapidly in the wake of two extremely harsh winters, was Ireland's most affordable off-road vehicle.