It's hard to believe that this is only the third generation of Fiat's character-packed 4x4. The original go-anywhere tin-box has been carrying people along some of the world's rougher roads since 1983, attracting something of a cult following in the process.
There's no accusing the Panda of lacking personality. Fiat has taken all those cute characteristics of a city car - small, fun and manoeuvrable - and somehow crammed four-wheel drive into something the size of Postman Pat's van.
Changes to the outside are restrained rather than revolutionary, adding alloy wheels and a few extra lumps and bumps around the wheel arches.
Inside things are predictably eccentric. A glossy-finished dash won't be to everyone's taste, nor will the two-tone fabric colour combinations which include pumpkin orange. Only the Italians can do chic quite like this.
The steering wheel is reassuringly chunky, but in its most comfortable position it does have a habit of blocking the view to the dials. Here you'll find more lashings of vintage influence - the speedo and digital dash could have been taken from anything built in the 1990s.
A couple of luckless passengers might end up in the rear seats where legroom is at a bit of a premium. You won't squeeze anything much larger than a Jack Russell in the boot, either.
Buyers get the luxury of choice in the engine department. There's a slightly less thirsty 75hp, 1.3-litre diesel. If you're after a bit more zip then choose the 0.9-litre petrol, which packs 75 Italian ponies into its diminutive frame.
The petrol version is teamed up with a six-speed manual box. The low gearing provides the Panda with a bit of extra fire in its belly, although the engine can sound raspy when getting up to speed. Wind and road noise is moderate but inoffensive.
POWER (hp) 85 75
TORQUE (Nm) 145 190
GEARS 6 5
0-62MPH 12.1 14.5
WEIGHT (kg) 1050 1115
FUEL TANK (litres) 35 35
TOWING CAPACITY (kg) 800 900
TOP SPEED 104mph 99mph
The oil-burning alternative gets five gears. On the road it feels pretty similar, although it could benefit from an extra cruising cog to quieten it down above 70mph. 0-62mph comes in 14.5 seconds - hardly rapid, but that's not what this car was designed for.
The raised ride height offers a pretty good view of the road and doesn't seem to hinder handling - body roll is pretty well controlled for a 4x4 and the raised suspension soaks up any potholes.
But can it do the business off the beaten track?
Yes. That's where the pocket-sized Panda really impresses. Its belly is 47mm higher than its city-dwelling cousin and approach and departure angles are better than both the MINI Countryman and Nissan's popular Qashqai.
The permanent, front-biased four-wheel drive uses an electrically controlled coupling to send power to the front wheels, rear wheels or a combination of the two depending on grip.
An electric diff-lock is handy in slippery conditions. Press the button tucked behind the gear stick when you're travelling below 30mph and the car will brake whichever wheel is slipping and direct drive to one with better traction.
Surprisingly for a car at the budget end of business it refused to squeak or rattle over three laps of the off-road track, either.
Farmers Weekly verdict
Don't expect too much and you're sure to be impressed - 4x4 Pandas have legendary status for a reason. It's small enough to slot in unnoticed between a collection of Tonka toys, but brings with it a serious off-road pedigree.
In fact, we reckon it's nicer to drive than several SUVs a spec level and price bracket above.
Should you buy one? Prices are expected to start at about £14,000 for the petrol (an oil-burning version will set you back an extra £1,000), so it's hardly a steal.
That said, if you're after a new car and a four-year warranty then it's certainly worth a look.
More on this topic
Compare the Fiat Panda 4x4 with another small four-wheel drive - the Suzuki Jimny