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World rally team M-Sport has pulled the covers off its latest project: a high-performance Fiat Panda 4x4.
This reinvention of the classic Panda was born from a client’s very simple brief, to produce a unique, stage-rally-ready version of the venerable Fiat.
With its many years of competition experience, M-Sport began the overhaul of the Panda using the underpinnings of a Ford Fiesta R5 Mk1 – a model that has achieved a lot of rally success, with 953 wins since its launch in 2013.
To allow the Fiesta’s chassis to fit that of the classic Panda, the engineers widened the Fiat’s shell by 360mm, which also benefited the finished car’s stability.
In addition, new wheelarches were developed to give the Fiat a more distinctive look, reminiscent of rallying’s golden Group B era, and underneath that more menacing exterior, a 1.6-litre 300bhp Ford EcoBoost engine with 332lb ft of torque was fitted.
The car also uses a five-speed sequential Sadev transmission, with bespoke front and rear differentials.
This mix of old and new is particularly apparent in the cabin, where the dashboard is inspired by that found in the original roadgoing model.
As you’d expect, it’s equipped with six-point harnesses and an FIA homologated rollcage, while the rear seats have been removed to make way for spare-wheel storage.
Finally, a hand-embossed ‘Panda 4x4’ badge sits on the rear hatch, in homage to this unique creation’s original model.
“It has been very special watching the Panda by M-Sport come to life and I am blown away by what we have been able to achieve,” said M-Sport’s director, Matthew Wilson.
“I was very fortunate to complete the car’s shakedown and put it through its paces; not only is it amazing to look at, it drives very well too.”
Wilson also revealed that the commissioning of the Panda would serve as a preview to other similar projects in the future.
“It has provided M-Sport with the perfect springboard to launch M-Sport Special Vehicles, highlighting that we are geared up and ready to accept new clients with unique commissions of their own.
“The testing and product design of the Panda by M-Sport was completed entirely in house using the M-Sport Evaluation Centre.”
And here’s the video of this one-off build.
Images and video: M-Sport