The latest member of the fast-growing “European small crossover club” will likely be the Fiat Panda, which will get a model that will grow in size, to compete against C-Segment SUVs.
The Panda crossover would fight a battle on two fronts, taking on the wildly popular Nissan Qashqai and the Skoda Yeti in the mainstream arena while also going after premium models like the Audi X1 and Audi Q3. The current Panda range, which includes an all-wheel drive version with faux-rugged cladding and a higher ride height, has won critical acclaim from European motoring journalists. The previous generation Panda 100 hot hatchback has been praised as one of the most fun drives at any price, and a new version will also join the range to enhance the range’s sporting credentials.
But the larger, crossover-style Panda will play an important role for ailing Fiat, along with the 500X crossover, which is somewhat larger than the standard 500. The 500 and the Panda will be the focal point of Fiat’s branding, as the Panda and 500 are judged to have the deepest emotional attachment with consumers. But contrary to popular reports, other model lines like the Punto, Bravo and Freemont aren’t going anywhere. All new versions are set to debut in 2015 to complement the 500 and Panda.