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After almost 7 months of consideration, ordering car brochures and reading endless reviews of superminis, I finally decided on a shortlist of either a Citroen C3, a Smart ForFour or a Fiat Panda for my first car! After passing my test and testdriving the Panda, I fell instantly in love with it! I bought a Dynamic 1.2 litre eng with Steel Grey paint and bright blue bubbly interior.
Although some readers may feel a 17 year old first time car buyer is not the best informed person to be reviewing a car, I feel that I am very well informed, as I saved every penny for this car myself and thus carried out endless research in order to make a good decision!
I have previous experience driving a Mazda and a Mini One whilst learning to drive, and I must say that the Panda feels much much lighter on the road, and responds more readily to both accelleration and breaking. The road noise whilst driving is minimal for such a cheap car, and is similar to the Mini I learnt in, without paying 10 thousand extra! The Panda really feels safe on the road, and the elevated driving position is excellent. It really makes you feel like you can assess any road situation in advance, and makes previously blind corners much easier to negociate as the angle is perfect for junction observations!
The dashboard mounted gearstick is sensational! At first I felt it may prove a problem and be hard to adjust to, however after 10 minutes of driving it felt as natural as using a normal gearstick, and much much easier to change gear with! The power steering on this car is really good also, with the optional 'city steering' function making parking or turning in tight spaces so simple! You really have to try it to realise how much difference it can make. As a teenager, sound systems are a priority to me when choosing a car and my Dynamic came with an cd player as standard, with one of the best sound systems I've come across.
Other gadgets Fiat have come up with include a Trip computer which is very useful for novice drivers such as myself, and tells the driver such details as the average miles per gallon, etc etc. A nice little gadget that perhaps I wouldn't pay more for, but is very useful as it comes as standard.
In terms of looks, as I have been investigating the Panda for months its image has certainly grown on me, and I find it very quirky and cute. However, many of my friends pick on me for having the car that looks 'like its bum's been chopped off', as the boxy appearance of the back of the car is not to everyone's tastes. As far as the interior appearance, the boot isn't very big but as expected on a small car, and the back seats can be folded down or even taken out if neccessary. My bright blue interior is gorgeous and looks really classy compared with many of my friend's older cars, and the dashboard appearance is nice also, with all the buttons close to hand for the driver. Although the door handles and a few other bits and bobs look a bit plasticy, this is all that can be expected for a car that sells for such a cheap price, and isn't a concern for me at all.
I'm a bit clueless when it comes to economical-ness, but as a student with a part time job I can afford to run the Panda, as petrol lasts FOREVER and the insurance is really great, (this was actually one of the main reasons I initially looked at the Panda). I actually bought the Panda second hand from a Fiat Approved Used Car dealership, which I didn't think I could really afford, but after paying them a visit they dropped down the price on a 9month old for me, and so I still have the remainder of the 3 year warrently if any problems arise (which they haven't done so far!) The service was amazing and the staff seemed like pros, so I'd reccommend trying a dealership before resorting to the freeads like I initially planned to!
Overall, I am in love! I adore my little Panda, it's cute, quirky, cheap to buy and run, feels safe and secure, drives better than a MiniOne, and has all the mod cons such as ABS, power steering, immobiliser, cd player, etc etc! A bargain and a great little first car that I hope to have for years to come!