Fiat Panda tyres

Readers of a certain age will be able to remember the original Fiat Panda. It was a strange small car which offered no fun, no frills and also absolutely no protection in the event of a crash. “Mechanically, the first Pandas borrowed heavily from the Fiat parts bin,” Wikipedia states, presumably unaware of the ironic accuracy of that sentence.

Rather bizarrely, its range featured a 4×4 version, which proved popular with the British Police, the Italian Army and the Swiss Postal Service but hardly anyone else. After fifteen years in the UK, the Panda inevitably fell victim to rust, and tightening safety legislation. Its falling popularity wasn’t helped by the BBC’s decision to axe police drama Juliet Bravo, which had proved a fantastic – and free – advertisement for the car.

The name was relaunched in 2004, even though the new Panda has little in common with its predecessor except its diminutive size and a 4×4 option. The new Panda is well-built and durable. It is reportedly very comfortable and fun to drive whilst being cheap to buy and run. Industry and customer reviews reflect that it is a vibrant and upbeat car, the exact opposite of the rather miserable original.

Economy is a key feature of the Panda range – indeed for many drivers it is the reason for buying the car in the first place. As such, fuel economy ratings will be a minor consideration to take into account when choosing new tyres. Instead, the wet grip ratings of different replacement tyre choices will be more important. Greater wet grip promises extra safety in terms of stopping distance and roadholding in all weathers. Critically, since the Panda has a short wheelbase and can have a high centre of gravity when loaded, greater grip levels from its tyres also mean better and safer cornering, particularly at speed.

Many new Panda models come fitted with Continental’s EcoContact tyres. This range is specifically designed for smaller and compact cars, with an emphasis on durability for a high mileage. While these will never be the cheapest tyres on the market, they will suit most Panda models perfectly and in most cases are the best tyres for this car. This suitability, combined with original equipment status, makes these etyres’ best-selling tyres for the Panda by some margin.

Goodyear’s EfficientGrip tyres are another premium range popular with Panda owners. NexenKumho and Firestone tyres have also proved a common choice and have the advantage of a competitive price tag.

Interestingly, the 4×4 models have been the figurehead of the new Panda range for some time now. A car used regularly in an off-road environment will usually demand a specialist off-road tyre. Many of these are available to fit the Panda, which has a smaller wheel size than most 4x4s. However, demand for these tyres from Panda owners is almost non-existent with etyres. This suggests that most 4×4 Panda models are not used for off-roading, with 4×4 being used instead as a safety and performance benefit for on-road driving.