In 2003, the then-new Fiat Panda won the European Car of the Year award; today it holds a one-star review from What Car? magazine.
Remarkable refinement, a dynamic sweet spot and pound-for-volume practicality have, in 19 years, turned into mechanical harshness, excessive body roll with a tiresome ride, and a most-cramped-in-class interior.
It is a victim of progress, albeit one that remains at the top of Italy’s sales tables.
The original Fiat Panda, introduced in 1980, felt just as long-in-the-tooth by 1995, its final year on the UK market.
An early facelift in 1984 was the last real advance beyond the array of special editions – remember the Fizz, or the Italia 90? – but, thanks to the Panda’s innate simplicity, it became something of a classic in its own time, none more so than the 4x4 Sisley.
The Cross is that car’s spiritual successor.
Back in the ’80s it was white wheels, canoeists on the seats and a compass and inclinometer on the dashboard; today it’s rufty-tufty body cladding, spotlights and recycled interior materials.