Tuesday – Panda, By A Short Nose

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The weighing in room at Cheltenham Racecourse is an interesting place to watch this week’s festival unfold. A lot of small men, with weather beaten faces and multi-coloured silks tipping the scales at ridiculously low weights.

Around them, there’s a distinct whiff of cash from the owners and trainers who nervously wait to see if it is going to be their year at National Hunt’s premier event. Money is no object to many of them and the slickest way to arrive at the course these days is by helicopter, then Range Rover or like us, in a Fiat Panda 4×4!

It may look slightly Postman Pat but the two-cylinder engine of the 0.9 TwinAir was the perfect antidote to the mass of Range Rovers and Mercedes clogging up the entrance to the car park. The Panda was able to out manoeuvre all of them into the tiniest of spaces.

I am starting to warm to the Panda. It does have faults but if you are prepared to use the six-speed gearbox enthusiastically, it rewards you with a fun drive, especially in town. In the country, it lacks a bit of grunt, especially for overtaking.

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