TURIN –- Fiat on Tuesday released details of its latest Panda minicar ahead of the model's debut at the Frankfurt auto show next month.
The latest version of Europe's best-selling minicar is bigger with a roomier interior. It will compete with cars such as the Volkswagen Up, which will also debut in Frankfurt.
The new Panda's exterior styling is very similar to the current car's but is less boxy with more curved surfaces. The engine hood and headlights are similar to those on the retro-styled Fiat 500.
The Panda is 110mm longer at 3650mm with its wheelbase unchanged at 2300mm. Most of the growth in length is on the rear overhang to boost the car's trunk space, as well as to offer more legroom to rear passengers, who also benefit from rear sliding seats for the first time.
The Panda is also 50mm wider at 1640mm, which means it can seat three passengers in the rear comfortably. Most minicars have room for only two passengers in the back.
Designed under the direction of Fiat Styling Director Roberto Giolito, the father of the successful Fiat 500 minicar, the new Panda sits on the latest development of Fiat's Mini vehicle architecture, which is also used by the new Lancia Ypsilon. Like the current Panda, the new version will be offered only as a five-door to avoid cross-sales with the three-door Fiat 500.
The interior is the strongest innovation in the new Panda. It has a colored, sculptured dashboard.
At its launch early next year, the Panda will come only with front-wheel-drive. An all-wheel-drive variant will arrive next summer.