Fiat Grande Panda first look: will retro-seeking lightning strike twice?

This is the new Fiat Grande Panda, a compact hybrid and electric car that brings delightful design back to a well-loved model

The new Fiat Grande Panda
(Image credit: Fiat)

The Fiat Grande Panda is the brand’s new entrant into the hard-fought B-segment car category – the slot one smaller than ‘C’ for compact and one of the toughest spaces to make an economic space for a well-finished, high-specification vehicle, even more so if it’s electric.

Nevertheless, Fiat built its reputation on small cars, even if the micro scales of the original 500 and even the first-generation Panda have long since vanished from our roads. The Grande Panda is just under 4m long, small by modern standards, and splices the aesthetics of Giugiario’s classically tailored original with the bubblier proportions of the Mk3 and Mk4 models that replaced it at the start of the new century.

The new Fiat Grande Panda in acid yellow/green

(Image credit: Fiat)

Fiat Grande Panda: recapturing the brand's small-car heyday

The most recent iteration of the Fiat Panda was a solid performer, even if it was slightly underwhelming in terms of design. Fiat is no doubt hoping that the new Grande Panda will bring with it some of the sparkle and zest that accompanied the revived 500 and has continued to this day with the Fiat 500 EV (a bit of heritage-infused zip that’s still notably absent from the rest of the company’s range).

For a start, the Grande Panda is being positioned as a ‘world car’, something that’ll suit someone in practically every market. That means flexibility, with a pure EV and hybrid version available, sold in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Olivier François, Fiat’s CEO and Stellantis Global CMO, describes the new model as a ‘real Fiat’ on account of it being ‘perfectly suited for families and urban mobility in every country’, recapturing a USP from the company’s 1980s small-car heyday.

The new Fiat Grande Panda

(Image credit: Fiat)

Underneath the clean lines is a modular platform, the STLA Smart platform, which should allow for much greater flexibility when dealing with regional demands and desires. The new model has been shaped at the Centro Stile in Turin, and is distinguished by solidly modelled flanks, dot-matrix-style LED lighting (a hint to the style recently revived by Hyundai) and a bright palette of basic colours.

The most obvious homages are to the Panda 4x4, an uprated version of the Mk1 model that garnered a cult following for its ultra-compact go-anywhere ability. Distinctive ‘Panda’ branding is moulded into the sills, and the wheelarches are also exaggerated, housing X-shaped wheel designs.

Fiat is following in its own footsteps here, but also ensuring that companies like Renault, with its forthcoming 5 E-Tech don’t get all the glory. On basis of these initial images, it looks set to do the business.

Fiat Grande Panda, price tbc,, @Fiat

Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.