History of the Fiat Panda - Part 6: Special Versions Vol. 3 and Racing Panda
The 2nd-generation Fiat Panda has seen a lot of special versions over the course of its 10-years-long production run, with some never entering production. Here, we’ll take a look at some more special versions of the 2nd-gen Panda, more specifically we’ll be looking at ecological and racing versions of this little hatchback. Let’s start!
Fiat Panda Natural Power
The Panda Natural Power, also known as Panda Panda, is an ecological version powered by natural gas, equipped with a 60 hp 1.2-litre engine (in methane mode it loses 8 and delivers 52). Developed on the basis of the Panda 4x4 (without transmission shaft and rear differential, in order to make room for the two cylinders), it boasts low consumption and very low running costs: it is equipped with two cylinders for a total capacity of about 13.1 kg of methane, and a 30 liter fuel tank. The maximum speed recorded corresponds to 140 km/h in natural gas operation and 148 km/h in petrol operation.
The average declared consumption is 4.8 kg of methane per 100 km or 6.2 liters of gasoline per 100 km. It is available in the Dynamic, Climbing (characterized by the aesthetics of 4x4 Climbing despite having only two-wheel drive) and Cross (with similar mechanics).
At the end of 2010 the 1.2 FIRE engine replaced by the larger and more powerful 8 valves 1.4 FIRE engine capable of delivering 77 hp when powered by petrol and 69 hp in methane fuel.
Fiat Mes-Dea Panda Elettrica
The Mes-Dea Panda Elettrica was designed by Swiss company Mes-Dea and assembled in Italy under license by Atea, who transformed the traditional Pandas into electric vehicles.
Based on the normal Panda, in both hatchback and Van versions, this version adopts a continuous 15 kW three-phase asynchronous electric motor with a maximum output of 30 kW with a maximum torque of 124 N·m combined with lithium ion batteries produced by Zebra able to guarantee a range of 120 km at a constant speed of 90 km/h and of about 100 km in the combined cycle.
Battery recharging takes about 8 hours from a traditional power outlet but thanks to a kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) produced under braking, it is possible to recharge a small part of the batteries ensuring constant autonomy especially in city traffic. The maximum speed of the car is electronically limited to 110 km/h.
The cockpit with four or two seats (this last solution for the Panda Elettrica Van) does not present substantial changes and houses the classic luggage compartment whose volume remains unchanged since the accumulators are positioned below the floor.
It can be considered a successor to the 1st-gen Panda Elettra.
Fiat Panda Multieco
The Panda MultiEco was a concept car presented at the 2006 Geneva Motor Show.
It was equipped with a tri-fuel engine capable of running on petrol, methane and hydrogen, and that was also combined with an electric generator that allowed the car to run even without fuel thanks to the Dualogic robotized transmission.
The plastic body allowed to reduce weight, consumption and emissions, and its design was very reminescent of the 1st-generation Panda. The aerodynamic drag coefficient was contained in the value of 0.295.
The methane cylinders guaranteed a range of 350 km. The 1.2 FIRE engine in petrol operation was capable of developing 60 hp while in CNG operation it delivered 52 hp. Carbon dioxide emissions were reduced from 32% up to 42%.
Fiat Panda Aria
The Panda Aria Concept debuted at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show.
It had an obsessive attention to ecology with environmentally friendly interior and exterior claddings, a turbocharged, twin-cylinder 871 cm³ engine with Multiair injection fueled by petrol or methane-hydrogen mixture, which emited only 69 grams per kilometer of carbon dioxide. The 105 hp were transmitted to the front wheels by a 5-speed Dualogic robotized gearbox. The car was also equipped with a Stop & Start system, which switched off the engine during braking at low speeds.
The concept anticipated solutions that were later taken up by the future compacts of the Turin house.
Fiat Panda Hydrogen
In September 2007 the testing of the Panda Hydrogen prototype was launched in Mantua, a zero-emission car produced in just 3 units.
It was built on the basis of the Panda 4x4 and as such is presented aesthetically, while the technical differences compared to the standard model are enormous.
From a technical point of view it was a successor of the two Seicento H2 concept cars, made in 2001 and 2003.
The prototype was driven by an electric motor powered by the current produced by fuel cells (PEM type) (acronym of Proton Exchange Membrane, or membrane proton exchange) anchored to the floor. In said fuel cells, hydrogen and oxygen were introduced which, when combined, generated electricity and produced water as a waste product.
Hydrogen was drawn from a tank placed at the rear of the vehicle in place of the normal petrol tank, while the air was blown by a compressor, located in the engine compartment, which drew it from the outside.
The electric energy was sent to the electronic power device that transmitted it to the engine, while the water produced was expelled from an exhaust pipe that escapes to the level of the floor.
The three prototypes, regularly approved for circulation, have been purchased by the Lombardy Region with a cost of about €400.000 per copy , of which 250.000 are needed for the construction of the PEM cells only.
Fiat Panda Eco
The Panda Eco was launched in June 2008, and it was an ecological version of the car characterized by low emissions. Equipped with 1.1 and 1.2 FIRE engines, the car boasted a series of refinements to the engine and the manual transmission with elongated ratios and to the oil used in the transmission that was less viscous, in order to produce less friction. Emissions were contained in 119 grams of CO2 emitted per kilometer in the average cycle.
Fiat Panda GPL
Starting from December 2008 a bi-fuel (petrol and LPG) version was made available thanks to an agreement made by Fiat with Landi Renzo, the leading company in the sector. The toroidal type LPG cylinder is placed in the spare wheel well but the inflation kit is standard. Installed directly in the factory the capacity of the cylinder is equal to 31 liters.
These were the ecological versions of the Panda. Now, we’ll look instead at the racing versions!
Fiat Panda Rally
The Panda is also used in some single-brand competitions.
The Panda Rally mounts the 1.2 tuned to 130 hp, or the 1.4 tuned to 157 hp, plus a Zanghellini sequential gearbox. The Panda Rally was characterized by a weight reduction of over 80 kg compared to the original version, the standard limited-slip differential and the modified aesthetics thanks to the addition of front and rear spoilers and a wider track to improve the aerodynamics and performance of the car.
In 2007, the Panda entered the world of the Dakar Rally with a 4x4 version, the PanDakar, of which two units were made.
The two cars were entered in the T2 category, the class which most closely represents production vehicles.
The PanDakar had a lightweight body and only two doors, and was equipped with the 1.3 Multijet turbodiesel engine, which was tuned to 105 hp and 160 Nm of torque, combined to a 6-speed manual gearbox. It featured a roll-bar, a fire extinguishing system and specific shock absorbers, the tank has a capacity of 60 liters while in the rear luggage compartment were housed the two tanks of water reserved for pilots (each 5 liters) and three spare wheels.
Apart from their small dimensions, the two cars are particularly noteworthy for their automatic all-wheel drive system with viscous coupling and locking differential, a system that provides more grip and traction on rough and soft terrain thanks to the optimal split of drive to the wheels.
The two Pandas competing in Dakar 2007 hadbeen equipped specifically for this rally: so room had been found inside for accessories like aluminium platforms to help extricate the vehicles from soft sand, shovels, and other specialised equipment useful for the occasion.
Among other things, rally champion Miki Biasion drove one of the two cars. Unfortunately, though, the first adventure of Fiat in the Dakar ended with the withdrawal of both PanDakars on the 4th stage of the event, due to them ending both covered up in sand.
In 2017, howewer, after various failed attempts, the PanDakar reached the finish line in Buenos Aires, reaching the goal set by the crew, composed by Giulio Verzeletti and Antonio Cabini.
End of Part 6. The History of the Fiat Panda will continue soon with Part 7: New Generation!