The Fiat Panda has rarely been a car to set people's pulses racing -- quite the contrary in fact. We'd guesstimate the boxy little runabout has been involved in a disproportionately high number of accidents where its drivers have dozed off from sheer boredom.
Luckily there's a new Panda approaching and this time it's been festooned with a bunch of snazzy new tech that'll have you bouncing off the walls with excitement.
The car features Fiat's fancy Blue & Me Live information and entertainment system. This uses the same Windows-based, voice-controlled stereo system seen in the Fiat 500, but this model also comes with an optional TomTom Live sat-nav that nestles in its own cradle on the dashboard.
If that doesn't keep you awake, how about this? Fiat's also thrown in sensors that detect obstacles and pedestrians at close range, stopping the car automatically if a collision with your neighbour's child, dog, or pet rabbit is imminent. The system will only bring the car to a safe and complete stop if you happen to be travelling below 30kmh, but it'll reduce the severity of accidents in cases where you happen to be driving above that speed.
The new Panda will be available with a choice of four engines, including a new, hyper-efficient, non-turbocharged version of Fiat's eco-oriented, two-cylinder TwinAir lump. The standard 85bhp TwinAir Turbo will also be available, as will four-cylinder 1.2-litre petrol and 75bhp turbo diesel units. All will feature stop-start technology and an indicator that tells the driver when it's best to change gear.
The new Panda will be available in front-wheel-drive guise in spring 2012 with a four-wheel-drive model appearing later in the year. Have a gander through our gallery above to get a closer look and have a look at our Fiat 500 video review to see the standard Blue&Me setup in action.