FIAT PANDA TWINAIR TURBO REVIEW
Picked up the new Fiat Panda 0.9-litre TwinAir turbo from GianniniAutomobili S.P.A. in Rome (crikey... some nice micro classic race cars there).
It's left-hand-drive, but no problem, Italian drivers are used to ducking around half-wit tourists.
Loaded up, punched Abruzzo into the sat-nav and dived straight into Rome's peak hour morning traffic.
Just 15 minutes in and I'm loving the little Panda. Surprisingly roomy inside - I quite like the interior - and really good long-travel suspension.
The ideal size for the nip-tuck-and-squeeze of Roman traffic. And also surprisingly eager performance provided you're happy to row it through the box (it sounds like a motorbike).
Great road, high bridges, long tunnels through the mountains and showing 140km/h on the dial.
Hold on, mental double-take, this TwinAir is only 900cc, and just two cylinders. No probs, could sit on this speed all day.
Learn two rules of Italian traffic. Rule 1.) Speed limits would seem to be advisory only, no-one pays them the slightest attention outside of towns; and Rule 2.) No matter how fast you're going on the Autostrada, you'll be overtaken by a van.
Skirted l'Aquila, still showing terrible damage from the earthquake, headed south to Sulmona.
Tomorrow, head high into Apennines to the ancient hill-town Calascio del Rocca - Abruzzo's highest at nearly 6000ft. That's going to test out the little TwinAir.
Stay tuned for Day 2.
The Fiat Panda will have its Australian media launch in late October 2013.