Fiat announces baby Panda off-roader

Proving that no car is too small to get a 4×4 makeover, Fiat will be debuting a ruggedized SUV version of its diminutive Panda city car at the Geneva Motor Show.

The Italian company already offers a 4X4 version of the Panda complete with raised suspension, but the Panda Cross takes things to another level.

Sitting on hefty-looking 15-inch alloy wheels, the car gets flared wheel arches, a jutting front bumper and under side protector and more pronounced roof bars.

However, the styling isn’t just for show, the car is a real 4×4 with a smart power distribution system that pushes the torque to the wheel that most needs power at any given time. Just like a Range Rover. And like a host of proper off-roaders, it also has a Hill Descent mode.

Inside the seats are trimmed with leather, and climate control will come as standard.

The favorable comparisons with Range Rovers stop with the engine though. The powerplants propelling the Panda along are very small capacity, hyper-efficient units — a 0.9 liter TwinAir turbocharged petrol engine and a 1.3-liter Multijet turbodiesel.

Following its Geneva reveal on March 4, the car will go on sale towards the end of 2014.