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Old 22-07-2016   #1
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Question Making the front seats comfortable!?

Hi everyone.

Six months into owning my Panda Cross I am delighted with it, EXCEPT for one thing: the front seats. They are ok for short drives, maybe up to an hour or so, but no matter what adjustments I make for longer trips I get quite bad back pain, some hip pain (notably in my left hip) and some leg pain.

I will admit to needing to shed some weight and get back to being a bit more fit, but I don't think my pains are down to this as they go away as soon as I am out of the car. I am 5'10. I never had such pain in my Doblo (now sold).

So, has anyone any similar experience? Better still, has anyone a solution? My car has the heated seat option and I would not want to lose that really, but if a change of seat is all that I can go for then I may have to consider that. But maybe there is a less drastic alternative?

Cheers.


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Old 22-07-2016   #2
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Re: Making the front seats comfortable!?

I've also found that the seats in the Panda aren't suited to long journeys. It's a common quibble amongst owners, and probably the car's biggest weak point for me.

My Panda has the 'non-heated' seats as well, so I doubt you get much improvent from swapping them.
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Old 22-07-2016   #3
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Re: Making the front seats comfortable!?

I suffered a little in my 4x4, though not too much in either of our other 2x4 Pandas.

I felt the squab was a little too flat and didn't quite support under my thighs.
Like you, it was ok for a hour or so.

No matter what I did with the seat height or seat back postion, I just couldn't get comfortable.

I ended up loosening the bolts that hold the seat to the floor, lifted the front of the seat and bushed out the front bolts to tilt the seat squab back slightly.

All it took was four penny washers, two each under each front bolt, fitted between the floor and seat runners.

These just tilted the squab enough to make the seat slightly more comfortable, not perfect, but a little better.


I've been spending quite a lot of time in the 2012 1.2 Pop and 2014 1.2 Lounge recently and only the other day started using the 4x4 TA again.

Although I do like the 4x4 and the TA engine can be a hoot at times, some of it's short comings are now a bit more obvious.

Apart from the seat, the short first gear is starting to get on my t*ts around town (and I commute in London!), pulling away in second is no answer as it flogs the clutch (which now feels a bit heavy and not as smooth) and impacts on my next gripe.

As the weather is better and the windows are down, the engine's gruff Grrr is also wearing a little thin now.

After commuting back and forth in both 1.2's for the last couple of months, it really is a bit of a shock how gruff the little motor is, how it's started bothering me and just how smooth the 1.2's are, particularly the 2012 Pop.

I guess it's my own fault for leaving it alone for so long, I've been spoilt by the plush Pop!

The 4x4 does have it's up sides.
It hasn't let me down in the wet and boggy fields I sometimes visit, the brakes are far sharper (though I feel the rears are binding a little again) and it handles all the speed bumps rather well, and there are millions around here!

SHMBO has been eyeing up a 500X and I think we might be test driving one sooner rather than later.
We could keep one Panda and perhaps get a 500X with either 4x4 or Traction Plus might be enough.
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Last edited by Goudrons; 22-07-2016 at 08:22.
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Old 22-07-2016   #4
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Re: Making the front seats comfortable!?

*SWMBO
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Old 22-07-2016   #5
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Re: Making the front seats comfortable!?

I've been looking into this for a while now, even considered doing a swap with seats from a 500 (they're really not any better). I have one of those mesh back support things that works alright for my lower back, but I might look into the whole lifting the front of the seat part.

I've been talking to a few auto upholsterers about making custom seat covers out of one layer of dense foam and one layer of memory foam. Ideally it would fit like a seat cover and just provide back support and some lateral support (I'm tired of rolling around all over every time I take a sharp bend). The issue is that the Panda is so rare here nobody has experience with the side airbags and how to make the seat covers fit over them without impeding them. There is, apparently, a special type of string used for the stitches in regular manufactured covers that is designed to tear open when the bags inflate, but it's not easily available aftermarket, and the machines needed to implement them into the covers are quite expensive (which is why custom upholsterers don't like my idea much as they can't invest in those machines for one crazy customer like me). Instead, they offered to just reupholster the original seats by removing the original upholstery, adding foam supports in the right places, and refitting (re-gluing) the original upholstery back. The problem with that is from what I've gathered, since the original upholstery isn't designed for that shape, the cloth tends to separate from the foam within a year due to temperature fluctuations, and the original cloth gets quite deformed from trying to fit a shape it wasn't cut for.

The reason I like my idea (foam seat cover) in the first place is that it would provide the support I want, and also protect those vinyl side parts of the seats that seem to be prone to stains, disfigurement, and general destruction. The downside is that the seats are already hot enough in the summer months and the mesh backrest provides a semblance of airflow while foam will probably lead to my back looking like I had a squirt gun fight with the fire department every time I get out of the car.

I'll update if anything else pops up, but that's where I'm at on this matter.
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Old 22-07-2016   #6
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Re: Making the front seats comfortable!?

Love the idea of loosening the bolts at front of seat mount and packing them out.

Just did this on mine. Only 15mm or 20mm makes a big difference to the seat position !
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Old 23-07-2016   #7
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Re: Making the front seats comfortable!?

I must be a different shape: drove from Hertfordshire to Shropshire and back a few weeks ago, and found it very comfortable... There has to be one exception to the rule :-)
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Old 23-07-2016   #8
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Re: Making the front seats comfortable!?

Pete - have to say I've not really noticed a problem. Have owned a Panda 4x4 since November last year, in which time have done two 400 mile journeys up to Scotland and one 250 mile trip the other week and not had any issues.

Have to say I do find the seat not quite as comfortable as that in my old Yaris support wise, but the initial issue I did have of being uncomfortable, I found was cured by moving the seat back one notch.

Hope you get this sorted.
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Old 23-07-2016   #9
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Re: Making the front seats comfortable!?

For years I've been suffering all the same back, hip & leg pains as you discribed, I have changed my home & office seating to make my life a little better.
Yes changing your seat could make your life more comfortable but Personally I think your looking at one symptom and not the underlying problem.
It could well be that like me possibly you have a bulging disc. Sit, stand, bend or lift, for just a little to long or just a little bit awkwardly and the bulge in the disc presses on the nerves in the spine and hey presto, a back problem looks and feals like sore legs/hips etc.

I've been MRI scand and know where my leg pains realy come from, I've made a few medically recomended lifestyle changes and hopefully I'll avoidhaving to have back surgery.

Or just by changing your seat your problem goes away and you remain pain free for the rest of your life
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Old 23-07-2016   #10
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Re: Making the front seats comfortable!?

I agree that the seats & driving position on the Cross are by far the worst thing about it. I've got Goudrons' clever fix on my to-do list, but haven't got round to it yet. I've just done 1500km in a rented bottom-of-the-range Micra which in most respects was a horrid little beast, but its seats were way better than the Panda's. At home, if I have a trip of more than 100 miles to do, I tend to reach for the keys of my wife's Volvo V50D, which is a loathsome car to drive, but has fantastic seats.
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Last edited by gar074; 23-07-2016 at 14:10.
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Old 26-07-2016   #11
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Re: Making the front seats comfortable!?

Quote Originally Posted by Goudrons View Post
I suffered a little in my 4x4, though not too much in either of our other 2x4 Pandas.

I felt the squab was a little too flat and didn't quite support under my thighs.
Like you, it was ok for a hour or so.

No matter what I did with the seat height or seat back postion, I just couldn't get comfortable.

I ended up loosening the bolts that hold the seat to the floor, lifted the front of the seat and bushed out the front bolts to tilt the seat squab back slightly.

All it took was four penny washers, two each under each front bolt, fitted between the floor and seat runners.

These just tilted the squab enough to make the seat slightly more comfortable, not perfect, but a little better.


I've been spending quite a lot of time in the 2012 1.2 Pop and 2014 1.2 Lounge recently and only the other day started using the 4x4 TA again.

Although I do like the 4x4 and the TA engine can be a hoot at times, some of it's short comings are now a bit more obvious.

Apart from the seat, the short first gear is starting to get on my t*ts around town (and I commute in London!), pulling away in second is no answer as it flogs the clutch (which now feels a bit heavy and not as smooth) and impacts on my next gripe.

As the weather is better and the windows are down, the engine's gruff Grrr is also wearing a little thin now.

After commuting back and forth in both 1.2's for the last couple of months, it really is a bit of a shock how gruff the little motor is, how it's started bothering me and just how smooth the 1.2's are, particularly the 2012 Pop.

I guess it's my own fault for leaving it alone for so long, I've been spoilt by the plush Pop!

The 4x4 does have it's up sides.
It hasn't let me down in the wet and boggy fields I sometimes visit, the brakes are far sharper (though I feel the rears are binding a little again) and it handles all the speed bumps rather well, and there are millions around here!

SHMBO has been eyeing up a 500X and I think we might be test driving one sooner rather than later.
We could keep one Panda and perhaps get a 500X with either 4x4 or Traction Plus might be enough.


Intriguing! I wonder if the modification affects the warranty ?
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Old 26-07-2016   #12
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Re: Making the front seats comfortable!?

Quote Originally Posted by oyumurtaci View Post
I've been looking into this for a while now, even considered doing a swap with seats from a 500 (they're really not any better). I have one of those mesh back support things that works alright for my lower back, but I might look into the whole lifting the front of the seat part.
I've a 500S 105 TA, and will likely be switching to a Panda Trekking mainly as we're just got a family dog. I'm concerned about the seating issue, as I've had problems with some cars (including Fiat Qubo) giving me back pain in the past.

I did take a Panda as a courtesy car while the 500 was serviced and it seemed to be ok, but I didn't drive it for more than 30 mins at a time ... and two people here have posted 'ok for about an hour'.

I do find the seats in my 500S are comfortable even on long journeys, but they are 'sports ones' with much better lateral support than the standard 500.

Have you looked into whether it would be a straight bolt in swap? The cars do have different height adjustment mechanisms - on the Panda the height of the whole seat can be raised or lowered. On the 500 the 'height adjustment' just changes the angle of the squab.
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Old 26-07-2016   #13
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Re: Making the front seats comfortable!?

I remember finding a thread somewhere on the internet where some sort of 500 seats were swapped into a Panda, and it was quite a bit of work. Rather than simply bolting in, the rails needed to be modified as the 500 seat baseplates don't fit on the Panda runners, and the 500 rails don't fit on the Panda floorpan so it was a mishmash of parts with a few bits being cut off. So, it can be done, but the biggest issue seems to be having the means to cut the runners and rails, and punching in new bolt holes that fit the Panda floorpan pattern.
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Old 26-07-2016   #14
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Re: Making the front seats comfortable!?

Quote Originally Posted by oyumurtaci View Post
I remember finding a thread somewhere on the internet where some sort of 500 seats were swapped into a Panda, and it was quite a bit of work. Rather than simply bolting in, the rails needed to be modified as the 500 seat baseplates don't fit on the Panda runners, and the 500 rails don't fit on the Panda floorpan so it was a mishmash of parts with a few bits being cut off. So, it can be done, but the biggest issue seems to be having the means to cut the runners and rails, and punching in new bolt holes that fit the Panda floorpan pattern.
I fitted 500 Abarth seats to my previous (169 model) 4x4 and although the seat mounts needed some work, it wasn't rocket-science. The floor pans were very similar and one of the 4 mounts on the old Panda seat needed to be removed and swapped over to the new 500 Abarth seat. Just a matter of drilling out the spot-weld and then bolting the bracket onto the 500 seats. Pretty straightforward.

My gut feel is that the new 319 shape Panda will be broadly similar and I might investigate that one day if I tool get fed up with the slightly compromised front seating position. Personally I think I've leaned to adapt, but it would be pretty easy to measure and eye-up the mountings on the 2 cars when visiting a dealer anytime. Plenty on eBay.

In my view those Abarth seats were excellent. I'd need to transfer the heated seats mind....
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Old 26-07-2016   #15
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Re: Making the front seats comfortable!?

I cannot for the life of me remember where I read it, but I am sure I read something about the fact that the RHD Panda driver's seat position (or pedals) being slightly offset. Can someone else confirm this at all?!

If that is the case then it is certainly possible that it is the cause of the problem for some Panda drivers (I'm more or less the same height as the OP!).

I used to suffer from quite bad lower back/leg pain after long drives in our Panda. As mentioned above, you may just need to work on some exercises to try and make the pain more manageable by strengthening the right muscles etc. There are quite a few options that won't cost you anything to begin with; if nothing works then I guess you may need something more drastic, but hopefully not
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