It’s been 40 years since Fiat launched its go-anywhere small family car, the Panda, and in that time over 280,000 versions have been sold in the UK.

While the UK had the Mini, France had the Citroen 2CV and Germany had the VW Beetle, the Panda was the car of the people in Italy. The original model was a three-door, five seat family hatchback penned by Giorgetto Giugiaro from ItalDesign and was designed to be rugged and durable as well as practical and stylish.

At launch it was powered by a four-cylinder, 45bhp 900cc engine and cost just £2,860. Since then it’s been reimagined in two different generations, each version carrying over the DNA from the original. The first Panda was on sale for 14 years and while it was available in front wheel drive, a tough 4×4 version proved a big hit – especially with farmers who loved its cute charm and rugged capability.

It was nearly nine years before the second generation was launched and, like its predecessor, it was cute, practical and just as perfect for city life as it was ploughing over rugged terrain. Visually it was shaped more like a squashed MPV rather than a traditional ‘car-like’ shape with a big bonnet. The Panda range consisted of 1.1-litre 54bhp and 1.2-litre 60bhp engines. Five-speed manual transmissions were standard, with a Dualogic sequential transmission available as an option with all 1.2-litre models. Plus, like the original, it was available in either a front- or all-wheel drive version.

Production of the second-generation version ended in 2012 with 78,713 units sold in the eight years it was on sale.

The latest version, the Panda III, came straight after the second-generation ceased production. It shared much of the styling with the model it replaced but had a more modern slant to it. It introduced the world to the ‘squircle’ – a combination of square and circle design which features throughout the cabin and exterior styling.

The range was made up of a range consisted of 1.2-litre 69bhp and 0.9-litre TwinAir 85bhp petrol engines, with a 75bhp 1.3 MultiJet diesel option. All received manual transmissions as standard, but a Dualogic sequential transmission was available with TwinAir models.

The newest version is the hybrid model, which was launched early in 2020 and gets a 12-volt belt-integrated starter generator which means fuel economy of just under 50mpg and emissions of 89g/km. New Pandas now start from £10,340, with the 4×4 model available from £15,565.