By on July 19, 2011

Based on spyshots and patent drawings obtained from Al Volante, Auto Motor und Sport was able to commission what is probably an accurate depiction of the next-gen Fiat Panda from Schulte Design, giving us an early look at a small car that will provide the basis for Chrysler’s long-awaited foray into subcompact cars. Chrysler’s product plan [PDF] calls for 2013 model year subcompact (B-Segment) vehicles for the Dodge, Jeep and Chrysler brands, based on Fiat platforms. The Chrysler-branded model was supposed to be a rebadge of the Lancia Ypsilon (itself very similar to the Fiat 500), but that model is reportedly on hold. The Dodge and Jeep B-Segment offerings are still on though, and the Jeep has long been thought to be a lightly-facelifted version of the Panda 4X4, meaning this model could be an early look at the smallest-ever Jeep.

Since the plan seems to be to keep Fiat’s 500 alone in the A-Segment, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see this model go to Jeep with AWD, body cladding and a seven-slot grille, and to Dodge in standard front-drive form. In any case, given the plaudits that the previous Fiat Panda received in Europe and the gaping hole on the small, efficient end of Chrysler’s product portfolio, expect this Panda to come to the US in some form or another. So do the strong reputation, cheerful looks and funky interior leave you anticipating this baby Panda, or does it leave you cold?

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

51 Comments on “Does Fiat’s Next-Gen Panda Preview Chrysler’s Coming Small Cars?...”


  • avatar
    Advance_92

    Only a dealer would be crazy enough to want this as part of the Jeep brand, much like the Pontiac G3. But as a Dodge, an all wheel drive option for a B segment car could be a very comfortable, if small, niche.

    • 0 avatar
      charly

      The Panda 4×4 has slightly more wilderness in it looks.

      But it does fit in with the Jeep brand. You don’t buy a Panda 4×4 because it looks cool but because you really use its offroad(ish) capabilities. That is the Jeep brand with its this car really goes into the wilderness unlike those other SUV’s that only go to the mall.

      • 0 avatar
        Advance_92

        I tend to think of Jeep being built for actual off road (as in rock crawling) use more than dirt roads and trails. Most cars can do that, and the Panda’s 4wd would provide some extra assurance for slippery or snowy conditions in those environments.

        I’m just thinking about the reception the Patriot and Compass got. I think it’s a great niche for a small car; just not sure if it fits Jeep’s ‘extreme’ image.

      • 0 avatar
        charly

        It is not a 4wd car but 4×4. It can go were most cars simply can’t. Think of it as something between a real Jeep and a 4wd Subaru

    • 0 avatar
      theo78-96

      >”Since the plan seems to be to keep Fiat’s 500 alone in the A-Segment, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see this model go to Jeep with AWD, body cladding and a seven-slot grille, and to Dodge in standard front-drive form.”

      How gloriously awful. Will it have a vinyl soft top and faux-wire wheels as well ?

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I’ll admit that I haven’t paid close attention to it, but their branding effort strikes me as being muddled.

    If the goal is to position Chrysler as a luxury brand, then it doesn’t make much sense to offer a version of this as a Chrysler. Luxury, subcompacts and America don’t mix.

    If the goal is to fashion Dodge into a performance brand, then this has a sort of anti-halo effect for that kind of effort.

    If the goal is to expand the Fiat brand into the US (which you think it would be), then wouldn’t this car be a good platform for doing that?

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      The thing is, while I agree, some branding efforts DO seem muddled but Fiat is considered a separate arm of Chrysler, not a part of it officially so that being said, the Dodge segment doesn’t have a decent B segment car to offer so there IS a gap there as the Caliber seems to be bigger than most B segment cars and it was never all that good from a total package design standpoint to begin with.

      That said, I’ve always felt the Panda to be a logical step to expand Fiat into the US as you also indicate although as a Jeep, it may just well work, but how the traditional Jeep grill will work with this car is a good question as the grill design in the photos above work just as well with the overall design of the car currently – as does the overall design of the current Panda.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Fiat is considered a separate arm of Chrysler, not a part of it officially

        I was under the impression that one of Marchionne’s goals was to turn FIAT into a global brand, i.e. a brand that could play in North America. Something needs to slot above the 500 if he is going to do that.

        the Dodge segment doesn’t have a decent B segment car to offer

        If Dodge is going to be a performance brand, then I don’t see why it would need one, unless it’s some sort of GTI-style hot hatch.

        I’m not saying that they shouldn’t sell it. My doubt is in how they’re planning to position it.

      • 0 avatar
        charly

        The 500 is a (near)luxury small car. A Panda is i have only this much money. From an European perspective i would guess that the Panda would be cheaper even if it was bigger so you can’t really slot the Panda above the 500.

      • 0 avatar
        ciddyguy

        True, the Panda IS cheaper than the 500 but how much cheaper, I don’t know, but what I DO know is that it has the same motors as the 500 (though they DID drop the 1.4L motor from it though) and it doesn’t have all 7 airbags standard like the 500 does in Europe (although the 2 front airbags are standard) and it’s audio system is similar I think to what’s in the 500 and the H/VAC cluster layout is very similar as are the round H/VAC vents and some other things as well.

        Don’t know if the Blue & Me is standard or not or if so, what trims but I’m guessing it’s optional (to help keep the overall price down)

        But it DOES offer most of what the 500 offers, but more of them are optional rather than standard, even in Europe.

        That being said, while it’s larger than the 500, from a segment perspective, it CAN slot above the 500 even if its less expensive though don’t know how they’d slot it here if it comes over.

        My guess is if they do, it’ll be not too radically different from the Euro version and like the 500 only gets a modest weight gain with the additional load rails necessary here along with extra sound insulation.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The 500 is a (near)luxury small car.

        In the US, it’s being positioned as a niche car and as a sort of halo. “Near luxury” and “small” rarely go together in the US market.

        Here, we tend to buy cars by the pound. If FIAT is limited to one tiny 500, then it won’t be much of a brand. And I don’t think that’s what Marchionne had in mind for it originally.

      • 0 avatar
        theo78-96

        It’s not a separate arm, it’s a completely different company.
        Fiat has a stake in Chrysler in return for a technology-sharing agreement.
        But Chrysler remains an independent company and can source parts from anywhere.

        Dodge isn’t a “performance” brand, it’s a pickup brand.
        And Chrysler is hardly a luxury brand either.

      • 0 avatar
        ciddyguy

        theo78-96,

        You are right, I stand corrected and was meaning it as you said it, but it came out wrong and while Fiat is a separate company, it is in a way like being a separate arm as many aspects of both companies are integrated, but yet are 2 separate companies.

        Personally, the way I see it, if Fiat and Chrysler were one company, then I’d see it this way, Fiat to take care of the A through C segments with Dodge overlapping a bit with perhaps a single B segment vehicle and the rest being C and D segment and CUV, Ram would be primarily the truck division, Jeep the outdoorsy SUV with Chrysler the top tier division and let’s hope it regains it’s luxury crown, ala by today’s standards and that last one may take a bit of time as Chrysler during its darkest days muddled the delineation of each brand within the company because at one time, Plymouth covered the bottom end of the company’s offerings with a full range of cars that were more affordable with Dodge more performance oriented and a bit more expensive/fancy, Chrysler was more akin to Olds or Mercury with its large near luxury cars with a performance vehicle or two (the 300 series) with Imperial being the top tier luxury brand before it folded and Chrysler then took over that crown.

        So in essence if Fiat is to be Fiat, then the Panda could well come over as is as I read that Fiat will be a full company that’s more than one model and we’ll get Alfa Romeo too. The word has been that the Lancia will be seen here, but as the basis for new models for Dodge and/or Chrysler and that means the Ypsilon may be seen here as a small dodge, who knows though what may actually happen.

        We’ll definitely know in good time.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        It’s not a separate arm, it’s a completely different company.
        Fiat has a stake in Chrysler in return for a technology-sharing agreement.

        Things are changing as we speak.

        JULY 15, 2011 – Fiat Preps Chrysler Merger

        Chrysler Group LLC and Fiat SpA, auto makers that bounced back from severe financial crises a few years ago, are preparing to rejoin the auto industry’s top ranks through a merger that would have the financial and production heft to compete globally.

        Sergio Marchionne, chief executive officer of Chrysler and Fiat, has begun selecting a single executive team to oversee the companies’ business operations, said people familiar with the matter. Currently, Fiat and Chrysler each has its own team of 25 executives who separately report to Mr. Marchionne.

        Fiat recently completed agreements that will give it majority ownership of the Auburn Hills, Mich.-based auto maker. A single management team and consolidated financial reporting now makes a previously expected Chrysler public stock offering unlikely.

        http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304521304576446131124829422.html

        Dodge isn’t a “performance” brand, it’s a pickup brand.

        Dodge does not have a single pickup truck in its current lineup. The trucks are now branded as Ram, and the Dodge cars and Durango SUV’s are being marketed with a performance angle.

        And Chrysler is hardly a luxury brand either.

        FIAT’s goal is to turn Chrysler into a luxury brand:

        (Chrysler brand CMO Olivier) Francois told AutoObserver.com that he wants to create a persona around the 300 as an exemplar of “earned luxury” rather than the born-to kind. Chrysler has attempted to transform its flagship marque into a luxury brand for several years now, without much success. But Francois – who also is CMO of Fiat and CEO of Fiat’s Lancia brand in Europe – sees an opportunity to appeal to Americans who have worked their way upscale rather than simply landed there by dint of their birth or good fortune. And he believes he can differentiate the 300 initially, and eventually the entire Chrysler brand, on that basis.

        “Our approach to luxury is clearly not an arrogant approach to luxury,” Francois said of his positioning of the 300, whose sticker prices begin at about $27,000 and can exceed $38,000. “It’s a very Detroit attitude toward luxury, very well-grounded – that luxury is something you deserve and is a reward for your hard work not something to just show off. That’s the difference between an American luxury car and maybe a European. With the 300, which is operating in the luxury segment, we have to deliver on luxury but not exactly – it’s a luxury that we define and tailor for 300 messaging, and it’s the kind of luxury that speaks to Americans.”

        http://www.autoobserver.com/2011/05/new-chrysler-300-is-more-about-the-marketing.html

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @Pch101: “If Dodge is going to be a performance brand, then I don’t see why it would need one, unless it’s some sort of GTI-style hot hatch.”

        Remember the Hornet from a couple of years back?

        http://consumerguideauto.howstuffworks.com/2010-dodge-hornet.htm

        I could see making the Dodge version of the Panda as a base Hornet, the Hornet SE and maybe a Hornet (SRT-4).

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Remember the Hornet from a couple of years back?

        As a matter of fact, I had been hoping to forget about it…

        I could see making the Dodge version of the Panda as a base Hornet, the Hornet SE and maybe a Hornet (SRT-4).

        You might be right. But still, I have to wonder whether there is a coherent strategy for all of this.

        Dodge is allegedly now a performance brand, yet it has a minivan, an SUV and possibly a compact. The lineup doesn’t match the branding story.

        Fiat (the marque) is supposedly positioned to expand in the US. Yet if this story is right, there seems to be no plan to sell this core Fiat product with Fiat branding. Again, another disconnect.

        Personally, I think that the Ram brand concept was a bad one. But my guess is that they did it in order to justify turning Dodge into a niche brand (which it couldn’t be if it’s used to sell the core pickup truck), with the eventual goal of Fiat becoming the staple mainstream brand for the US market.

        That sounds like a great idea in theory if dreamed up in an office on another continent. But in practice, it helps to destroy what brand equity that Dodge had left it, while providing no assurance that Fiat is going to step in to become a mainstream brand to replace it.

        This reminds me of GM Redux — supporting brands for the sake of it, without a rational assessment of whether those brands make any sense. I don’t think that it will sink the company, but as far as I can tell, the strategy lacks clarity and has a questionable agenda of trying to take Italian brands places where they weren’t meant to go. American consumers associate Italy with wine, pizza and museums, not affordable and reliable cars. I have my doubts that Fiat is poised for takeoff in the US market.

  • avatar
    LucidioK

    This car is the same as the “Novo Uno” from Fiat Brazil: http://uno.fiat.com.br/

    • 0 avatar
      Magnusmaster

      Actually, they’re not exactly the same car, but they are very similar. The Panda has a different grille and a third window panel, improved interior and likely more airbags.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    I actually like this iteration of the current Panda, that is if what we’re seeing here is any indication. It IS an evolution of the current Panda, just more rounded and modern looking, both inside and outside and the 500 has been based on a shortened version of its platform since its debut in 2007.

    I’ve read that the N. American 500 is based on the new Panda platform, which is itself based on the Ypsilon platform. The current Panda has been around since 2003 and I don’t know what its platform is based on but it has served well over the past 8 years.

    I would LOVE to see this come to the US as either a FWD or as a 4×4 or AWD variant, but with a taller roofline and a more boxier shape, it will be even more versatile than the 500 is, all the while being a bit more capable of carrying more than 2 people with ease but still retaining a stylish presence.

  • avatar
    TimAndersonKFBS

    For the Jeep version, they had better cut the top, drop the back seat and cross-breed this Panda with a Meyers Manx. That might be interesting.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    Can they Americanize a Panda so Supersized Americans will fit in it? It’s one thing to sort of Americanize a Fiat 500 because most of those buyers are buying a fashion accessory, rather than a car. If a fashion accessory is a car for them, then they haven’t been gulping down 400 calorie Starbucks drinks long enough to be shopping in the Size 14 aisle. Well, most of them haven’t.

  • avatar
    tallnikita

    Put me down as a long-time fan of Panda and Uno, who never had a chance to consider buying one. Hell, just a week ago I was crawling under an old rusted Panda sitting by a bus stop in Italy, astounded that it had a live rear axle and leaf springs. A real goat-like machine.

    BUT, let’s get real. By the time it makes it to the US, it will be priced above $18K, i.e. more money than Golf. It will be heavy, clunky and driven by that same 1.4Multijet that does not propel the 500 all that well. It’s fuel consumption is not going to be that good, but probably better than Wrangler’s abhorrent stats. In short, it will fail miserably in this country. If it does not, I am starting to import Nivas.

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      If you were looking at a rusty Panda with leaf springs and a dead axle and if it was a 2 door, it’s a VERY old one that predates the current 4 door that’s been around since 2003.

      The current car only comes in a 5 door body BTW.

      • 0 avatar
        Patz

        you are right, it could only be the 2-door one.
        The two door Panda was introduced in 1980 in Europe, and run-out as late as beginning of 2000 (maybe it was 2001, but I was not sure).
        They sold millions of these cars.
        I had a 1989 white, 0.750 litre Panda CL (which actually meant ‘Comfort Luxyry’ spec……..) which lasted 18 years and some hundreds thousands kms.
        I had the best times of my life probably with that car.
        I have been driving this car in the worst way and worst environments possible, including off-roads despite it was not the 4wd version. This small car just took me anywhere, not complaining that much. And if something broke down, you didnt’ really need much time to fix it by yourself. I remember the winter times, when I was overtaking stuck-in-snow Mistubishi Monteros (Pajero, in Europe) with a big smile on my face.

        Till now, if you go on the Alps – most ski-teachers and local inhabitants will have (between their STI-spec subarus and mid-sized 4wd Suzukis) at least one 4wd Panda in their garage. To be used when times gets really thoug in there.

    • 0 avatar
      Patz

      By the way, just a few more comments.
      Multijet is not the 1.4 gasoline – as multijet is the ‘Fiat’ name for their diesel multiple injection common rail technology. It was invented by Fiat and firstly marketed in 1996 on an Alfa Romeo vehicle. Now this Common Rail technology is almost used on each and every diesel engine for vehicle applications being built around the world.
      You are probably referring to the Multiair – which is another new technology by Fiat, just launched a couple of years ago.
      Like the Common Rail, I expect a 5to8 years ‘lead time’ to become really ‘best-in-class’, as it’s a complex technology which needs much refinements – on its hardware and control).

      Furthermore, the Panda used to be much lighter than the 500 in there. Due to lower level specs than the 500, hard-and-rough plastics and so on.

      The Panda has always been the smart car for people who really need one which takes them where they need to go without issues and enough room inside – and don’t care too much about showing it to friends as a status-symbol. But there have been also some really nice versions like the ’100hp’ sporty spec and the 4×4, which is just a rock-solid stone of the Fiat car history.

  • avatar
    V572625694

    I’ve driven a (two-year-old, low-end) Panda quite a bit in Europe, and found it to be spacious and comfortable, with lots of cargo volume in a very small package. Not much zoot, and kind of tippy on turns, but the tall greenhouse and ample fenestration make it seem bigger inside than out. Plus it has power windows, remote locking, and A/C, which are not “standard” on low-end cars in Europe, I guess. Much more fun than a Euro Yaris.

  • avatar
    mjz

    The new Panda will make a great entry-level Jeep.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I can see why Fiat had to go retro on their design for the 500.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Why on earth did Dodge get out of that segment, I’ll never understand. They had the Colt which was better than the rest of the American competition at that time.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      The Colt was a rebadged Mitsubishi. I wonder if Dodge made any money from those, or if they were just to get people in the showrooms. I had an ’89 Turbo that was actually made by Sitipol in Malasia – I’m guessing under license from Mitsubishi.
      Next came the Neon, which wasn’t that bad but could have used a little more attention over its lifespan before it was killed off for the Caliber. I think that they thought that the Caliber was a good idea when anything remotely SUV-ish was the cat’s ass, but as we know, that fashion tailed off and left the Caliber just looking blocky and crude.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I wonder if Dodge made any money from those

        I don’t know the answer, but my guess is that they would have at that time, with the yen-dollar exchange rate being Y150-200: $1 and above. The cars would have been relatively cheap to buy in bulk and flip at a reasonable profit.

        Today, that wouldn’t be possible. A yen at Y79: $1 is a very different animal.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Did you buy your Malaysian Colt in the US? I had no idea that is where they were from. I spent the summer of ’89 selling cars for a dealership that had all the Chrysler brands, as well as five others. Somehow, we had a dozen or so base model Colts with manual transmissions and A/C. Most of them were white, and some had been on the lot long enough to need new state inspections. I thought they would be easy to sell for $7K a piece, but they weren’t. I found people would rather buy a horrible used car for that money, even one that the dealer had paid $1,200 for, rather then buy a cheap new car. The only things wrong with them in my 18 year old eyes were that they had automatic seatbelts and brakes that were impossible to modulate.

        The Caliber may really be as bad as people say it is, but it was also the victim of horrible timing. It showed up just as fuel economy briefly became king, and few people wanted a small car that was as heavy and fuel efficient as a midsized car.

      • 0 avatar
        srogers

        My Colt was bought in Canada. It was also a throw-back model, as an newer model of Colt was selling alongside at the same time.

  • avatar
    fred schumacher

    The Panda/Uno is a more practical vehicle. The 500 gives up space for style, and I think will be considered a “chick car” like the VW New Beetle. However, the 900 cc TwinAir engine absolutely needs to be an American option. As for 4×4 drive, very few people go rock climbing with their Jeeps. The main benefit of 4×4 is the ability to get through snow drifts and deep slush without drama. That’s why one of my vehicles is a Subaru.

    After dumping the Neon, Chrysler desperately needs a good, small car. Chrysler made a profit on its Neons, unlike the Caliber replacement. It’s too bad development didn’t continue. My 1998 5-speed Neon averaged 38 mpg and went 205,000 miles till it finally needed major work.

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      Actually, once Dodge got rid of the Colt, they had only the C segment as their smallest model, which included the Neon and currently the Caliber.

      The Panda is still considered, in its current guise a city or A segment car though it’s I think a tad larger than the 500.

      Don’t know how the new Panda as we’ve just seen previews of will be size wise or what but still, it’d be nice to have something that’s between the 500 and Caliber in size in the lineup however it’s placed.

  • avatar
    fiatrama

    A small correction: As far as I know, the Panda is not FIAT’s B-platform. It is the A-platform, incarnations of which are the cinquecento, the panda, the Lancia Ypsilon, and even other such as the Ford Ka (built under license). Quite versatile – but still A-platform.

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      You are right, I was thinking it was slightly larger, enough to be a B segment vehicle in size only but obviously not.

      But as I said in my comment right above you, I don’t know if the new MK3 version will be any larger or not or if so, if it’s large enough to be an actual B segment, but as you say, the Ypsilon is also considered an A segment vehicle.

  • avatar
    GeeDashOff

    I like the Panda 4×4.
    Mostly because of this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_cNLcBkXlg

  • avatar
    Zarba

    Dear God, did Jeep learn nothing from the Compass?

  • avatar
    GoFaster58

    If this is an indication of Chrysler’s future they have no future. They may as well forget it. Just drop everything but Jeep and Ram.

  • avatar
    Robbie

    The only sensible and brand-coherent thing to do is to sell this car in America as a “Fiat Panda” – which it is.

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    My wife and I spent two weeks last summer driving a dark blue 5-speed Panda through Italy. We cruised the country roads, the cities, and the Autostrada (even the mountainous portions). The Panda handled it all with aplomb. By the end of the trip, we were both in love with the car and wished they’d bring one to the states. The Panda has a purity to it few other cars offered here have.

    I’d love to see the Panda show up as a real Fiat. But if they bring it over only as a Dodge…well…ok. I guess. Maybe.

    I’d have to think about it.

    • 0 avatar
      Patz

      Your statement on the Panda is perfect – you expressed in a much better way what I also tried to tell.

      I remind an ‘Autocar’ (UK) comment when they first tested that car.
      It was something like this:

      ‘There is one thing Fiat is able to do so good like no others – the small cars’.

  • avatar

    I like it.

    It looks a little nicer than the current Panda, and I think I can see this as a Jeep more than the current-generation Panda. Its hood, for example, is a little blockier and it looks a little more SUV.

    Thing is, though, if you are going to make it a Jeep it has to be better than the current-gen Patriot off-road. Good luck on this one, though, I’m somewhat interested (as in, if I had to buy a new car I could seriously consider this one-at least, based on what I’ve yet seen.)

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      According to videos on the current Panda, it’s more than capable in the 4×4 version and it’s ONLY available with the 1.2L gas motor too in Europe, though that was a few years ago.

      Don’t know about the current model year and what is now offered as it now comes with the TwinAir as well.

      • 0 avatar
        Patz

        Here the update :-)
        the 4×4 spec is offered also with the 1.3 diesel Multijet engine. With 15 horsepower more and tons of torque more.
        That’s actually perfect for that car, as it also returns much better fuel economy. But has an higher sale price.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        1.2L gas, 1.3L diesel, 1.4L gas and 1.2L LPG are all available on the 2011 model.

  • avatar
    italian99

    Sorry for my english! The design will be little different! link1: http://www.autontheweb.it/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Nuova-Panda-2012-21.jpg link2: http://www.autontheweb.it/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Nuova-Panda-2012-1.jpg link3 http://immagini.alvolante.it/sites/default/files/images/panda_interni_spy.jpg About the motor: 0.9 bicilindric without turbo 65cv, 1.2 4cil 69cv, 0.9 bic turbo 85cv (also Gpl and metano), 1.3 turbo diesel 95cv!

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    To the person who commented about the American roads, if your theory was correct, VW would have never built or sold the anemic old Beetle for the ultra fast Autobahn.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • J & J Sutherland, Canada
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India