Last Sunday saw the end of the Panda Raid 2018, the exciting regular competition open only to Fiat Panda models built before 2003. Featuring both 4×2 and 4×4 versions, the event left Madrid on 3 March, reaching Marrakesh on 10 March after taking on the Moroccan desert. The route covered a total of 3,000 kilometres, taking in sun-baked villages and sandy trails, crossing harsh terrains which would have been a tough challenge even for larger SUVs.
Now an established part of the Rally Raid calendar – which also includes the iconic Dakar – in spite of its amateur spirit, it was the 10th instalment of the Panda Raid and attracted a record entry of 400 historic Panda cars from all four corners of the Earth: from Argentina to Cambodia and from Pennsylvania to Italy.
Starting from Madrid, the colourful caravan first headed for the coast, to the port of Motril, from where, after a short ferry crossing, it travelled to Lake Mohammed V (4 March). From here, the expedition faced sandy lands and trails, desert areas and landscapes with an endless horizon, with stops in Bni Tadjide (5 March), Errachidia (6 March), Merzouga (8 March) and Tansikht (9 March). The final stage was on 10 March, finishing in legendary Marrakesh.
An amazing journey – which has been providing a magical combination of adventure, nature and pristine landscapes for 10 years – on board an automotive icon, with a total of more than 7.5 million cars built from 1980 to the present, which still delights even today with its toughness, handling and convenience. Alongside the 400 classic Panda cars in the race was a new Fiat Panda Cross 4×4, which covered the entire course. A symbolic handshake between past and present of the model that was one of the best seller vehicles in its segment in Europe for 15 years. In other words, the undisputed queen of Europe’s cities proved once again that it is equally at ease amongst the desert dunes.
The natural heir of the mythical Panda 4×4, launched 35 years ago, today’s Panda Cross 4×4 has all the exclusive character of high-end SUVs, all in just 3,7 meters. The secret of its success is its unique combination of the traction system of a genuine off-road vehicle, the performance and contents of an SUV, with the external dimensions, efficiency and agility of a city car. Panda Cross 4×4 is a “crossover” because it can overcome any obstacle – thanks to the 4WD and Electronic Differential Lock it was the first to introduce to the market – and also because it attracts a wide variety of customers, offering them all the right answer to their mobility needs.
Moreover, the amazing success of “Panda Raid 2018” is just another of many records. For example, as well as being the first city-car with 4WD (1983), the Panda was also the first car in its segment to receive the coveted “Car of the Year” title (2004), and in the same year, it was also the first city-car to climb to an altitude of 5,200 metres, at the Everest base camp. And the long series of records continued in 2006 when Fiat Panda became the first natural gas fuelled city car to be produced on a large scale. And today it is the only car in its segment to offer four engine versions (petrol, diesel, petrol/natural gas and petrol/LPG), three configurations (Urban look, City Cross and 4×4), two traction systems (front and all-wheel) and two transmissions (manual and Dualogic robotised).