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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #1
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Very Soft Suspension Diesel Panda Cross 2018

Okay... new to posting on the forum, but now I have my second 4x4 Panda (2014 Panda 4x4 & now the 2018 Panda Cross- both 1.3 TD).
So, the filter hasn't found an answer prior to posting this & please bear with me as I have to set the scene- so here goes;
I have recently traded in my Panda 4x4 which I truly loved, for the (supposedly) better (2018) Panda Cross, to find that I'm extremely disappointed with the lack-lustre handling, in fact quite bad handling compared to the former Panda 4x4.
I know that any 4x4 will have a certain amount of body roll & all the reviewers commented on it. That said; my old 2014 Panda 4x4 handled extremely well, cornered better than some sportier cars & there was no corner that I didn't feel uncomfortable in to stay with sporty cars (seriously, she handled so well), so I never understood the body roll comments as it was almost imperceptible. Perhaps the only shortcoming was the under-powered 75BHP engine, which usually left me behind once the bends were dispensed with!
Like too many dealerships, there are rarely Panda 4x4s to test drive, so I ordered the Cross anticipating the same great handling as experienced (& enjoyed!) with my old Panda 4x4 with perhaps a little more power (20BHP to be exact), to make a very good car great...
My Cross arrived in March & the little tweaks & extras were welcome & the drive felt quieter owing to better sound-proofing & more plush owing to the very noticeable softer suspension. I immediately noticed significant body roll & exiting a roundabout, I changed gear (Panda's short gearing) & I noticed power-off over-steer, which had never happened at that roundabout in similar circumstances with the Panda 4x4. I'm not talking about loss of control or anything like that, but a a noticeable & very unwelcome shortcoming in the handling.
I have been taught that you drive to your & the car's ability & so I have had to settle for a rather disappointing drive & curb my enthusiasm when cornering (cornering is where I used to separate the wheat from the chaff!), but the other day I was cresting a hill which bears a little left at the top & on the other side was a stationary vehicle waiting to turn right... I have pressed my brakes hard, as befitting the circumstances & the Cross has nose-dived to the right & started to go left, I have released the brakes to regain control & pressed hard again with the stationary car totally unaware of my situation. Add to this, I had another vehicle behind me throwing out all his anchors at the same time & I was trying to brake hard enough not to hit the vehicle in front, but also leave enough space so as not have the vehicle behind, collide with me. So the Cross has then started to dive to the left & try to go right where oncoming traffic were (that the stationary vehicle was waiting for). I have released the brakes again in order to regain control & re-applied the brakes again & she has then braked straight & true & thankfully stopped before the car ahead (& the vehicle behind me, stopped without any noticeable deviations).
Just for the record; I'm aware that ABS requires that I depress & hold my foot on the brake pedal- had I done so I would have exited the road, stage left, into a wood, hence the cadence braking to regain control & stay on the tarmac.
My questions are many, but: Does the Panda 4x4 have road shock absorbers & the Cross have softer shocks in order to generate better mechanical grip for off-roading? Whilst I understand this concept, it has made the Cross IMHO worse for it. My old Panda 4x4 fared extremely well in the snow & I left more than 1 red-faced 'proper' off-roader at the bottom of a hill. I know that it's no real off-roader & neither is the Cross, but I'm sure that both will fare very well off road anyway...
The money question is; does anyone know if I can fit stiffer shocks (as the chassis appears identical), or do I have to settle for a sporty vehicle with big 4x4 handling?
Thanks for bearing with me if you managed to get this far!
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #2
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Re: Very Soft Suspension Diesel Panda Cross 2018

Very surprised to read your comments - after replacing a 100HP five years ago with a 4x4 TA I've been impressed by the latter's compromise between off road (and on today's roads) ride and on road handling. It sounds to me as though there's something amiss with the Cross's suspension - ?geometry/dampers/tyres. The only difference is that the Cross is marginally higher because of larger section tyres.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #3
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Re: Very Soft Suspension Diesel Panda Cross 2018

So far as I know (and that may not be very far the Cross and the 'regular' 4x4 share identical suspension parts, and frankly there are no mechanical differences between the two either. The main differences between the two cars, and where the bulk of the 1500 difference in list prices goes, is into things like full climate control as opposed to the 'manual air con', and the various styling differences. Oh, and Hill Descent control.

However, there is one very key difference and that is the tyres. The Cross uses a 185/65 section tyre, which in turn gives about 11mm extra overall diameter than the 4x4's 175/65 tyres (this alone is why the Cross is quoted as having 6mm more ground clearance)... That gives you, potentially, a little more sidewall flex. And, they are 'all season' tyres which may also have 'softer' sidewalls than the CrossContacts (which are a little more off-road biased) of the 4x4. The Cross is also a couple of 100kg heavier... I suspect this is where your differences are.

By the way, I too have just replaced a late 2013 MJ 4x4, but with a (just) one year old 4x4 MJ from a dealer in Scotland, with the Euro 6 diesel and a few extras I wanted (heated screen and seats in particular). The new car is very much quieter and the ride more comfortable. I put this down to everything being very new (its only done 2000 miles). But grip and handling seem to match what the 2013 car did.
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Re: Very Soft Suspension Diesel Panda Cross 2018

My 4x4 TA handled OK, it only felt a bit leany/floaty when taking fairly tight slip roads at speed.

The slight increase in ride height due to the larger profile tyres of the Cross has obviously raised it's centre of gravity, which never helps handling and as already written, the taller profile tyres won't help, particularly if they are under or over inflated, so worth checking.

Generally, useful 4x4's have fairly supple suspension, this helps keep the wheels in contact with the surface, the more supple, the more uneven surfaces it can handle and with the wheels in contact with the ground, the more traction it can find.

Just look at the images of old Range Rover Classics to see the axle articulation needed to tackle the rough stuff.

The Cross is meant to be a step up from the normal 4x4 for off road ability, so it's should be no surprise it's a little more compliant.

At the moment, I am suffering the exact opposite.
My Abarth corners far quicker than my brain thinks it will, I just can't get my head around it.
I thought I'd overcooked a few corners after taking a brave pill (or showing off), but turns out I was no where near it.
I am just starting to realise I will probably side out from under the seat belt and straight out the window before it gives up grip!
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Re: Very Soft Suspension Diesel Panda Cross 2018

As you braked straight and true in the end, the ABS and EBD obviously work as they should. The 4x4 lower to the ground, you'll have had more bedded in brakes, and I've found the winter tyres not only great sub 7 degrees C, also very sticky in very hot weather. The Cross may never handle and stop as well and you may have to accept it's not as forgiving and adjust your driving style. Full winters may improve things in 3 years time when you need a new set but you shouldn't expect miracles. This is a Fiat Panda. We're all driving armchairs basically.
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Re: Very Soft Suspension Diesel Panda Cross 2018

Thanks for all the replies. Most helpful. I take from this that it may be the tyres then. I justify this by saying that after 3 years & roughly 20000 miles I could not find the Continental M&S tyres and had to settle for Michelin 4 seasons 185 width and the handling was greatly improved from mild understeer to point & shoot, choose-your-apex (apart from initial minor scraping on the wheel arches when turning sharply). Whilst the tyre compound makes a huge amount of sense & the ride height is affected by the brand (the Cross nose allows better approach angles), it still feels softer and and this may be the tyres rolling (rather than the car...) especially if the suspension & shock absorbers are identical. That said, if I may impose a little more and ask what tyre pressure you recommend? Many thanks for your assistance in this.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #7
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Re: Very Soft Suspension Diesel Panda Cross 2018

The advantages of soft suspension............

Huge body roll but all four wheels firmly planked, stiff suspension doesn't always work especially offroad and being fair the cross and 4x4 are designed for that type of use.
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Re: Very Soft Suspension Diesel Panda Cross 2018

Hi.
Reading the OPs first post it makes me think that his speed was too high when he couldn't see what was over the crest of the hill, a fundamental mistake IMHO, I also wonder if the following vehicle thought he was in a race too.
So perhaps don't blame the car, think of what might be round a blind bend or the summit of a hill. Drive as per the conditions and how far you can see.
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Re: Very Soft Suspension Diesel Panda Cross 2018

Quote Originally Posted by murphyv310 View Post
Hi.
Reading the OPs first post it makes me think that his speed was too high when he couldn't see what was over the crest of the hill, a fundamental mistake IMHO, I also wonder if the following vehicle thought he was in a race too.
So perhaps don't blame the car, think of what might be round a blind bend or the summit of a hill. Drive as per the conditions and how far you can see.
Blind crest or no, that doesn't explain why the car handled unpredictably under braking.

The only time my Cross has behaved unpredictably was after it had been left standing for a few days during the winter. The first time I applied the brakes, they grabbed unevenly on one side, and I slewed across the road. Two heavy-footed braking tests later, all was fine.
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Re: Very Soft Suspension Diesel Panda Cross 2018

Quote Originally Posted by gar074 View Post
Blind crest or no, that doesn't explain why the car handled unpredictably under braking.

The only time my Cross has behaved unpredictably was after it had been left standing for a few days during the winter. The first time I applied the brakes, they grabbed unevenly on one side, and I slewed across the road. Two heavy-footed braking tests later, all was fine.
Electronics and sensors are all very well, unfortunately we don't know all the factors, there could be many reasons that the car systems couldn't compensate for what was thrown at it. Sudden steering changes, how sharp was the hills crest, was there loose gravel, was the camber of the road wrong etc? We don't have the answer and on the cross going at speed reduces the time the electronics can respond.
The OP discusses lift off over steer so to me I'd think rightly or wrongly he drives in a manner as if the throttle has two positions on or off.
Many years ago I did my IAM & ROSPA part 2 as it was then, not only that but in a rear engined Skoda plus it was tuned, I was quick and I mean quick but never to get into situations I read in post one.
Obviously I cannot slate anyone's driving without being a passenger but from the OPs post I can't accept that he can blame the car to get him out of lack of observational skills and common sense.
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Re: Very Soft Suspension Diesel Panda Cross 2018

Quote Originally Posted by Jacko575 View Post
That said, if I may impose a little more and ask what tyre pressure you recommend?
One the 185's I run 36psi Front and 35psi rear. Sharpens the steering and limits a little of the inevitably increased tyre wall flex (over the 175's), but without compromising the ride to a discernible degree.

For what it's worth I also agree that the Panda 4x4 handles brilliantly (mine's a 2014 too) and I have used it to Instruct on a track day at Cadwell in the past. With some track knowledge and confidence the little car performed well, well beyond the expectations of those in my group (in waaay more sporting saloons and hatches) following my lines. The only thing I've added are some Eibach Camber Bolts, resulting in approx. 2 degrees of negative camber on the front - makes a world of difference to turn-in and limit front axle grip. 26 + a geometry reset very well spent IMHO.
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Re: Very Soft Suspension Diesel Panda Cross 2018

Quote Originally Posted by murphyv310 View Post
Electronics and sensors are all very well, unfortunately we don't know all the factors, there could be many reasons that the car systems couldn't compensate for what was thrown at it. Sudden steering changes, how sharp was the hills crest, was there loose gravel, was the camber of the road wrong etc? We don't have the answer and on the cross going at speed reduces the time the electronics can respond.
The OP discusses lift off over steer so to me I'd think rightly or wrongly he drives in a manner as if the throttle has two positions on or off.
Many years ago I did my IAM & ROSPA part 2 as it was then, not only that but in a rear engined Skoda plus it was tuned, I was quick and I mean quick but never to get into situations I read in post one.
Obviously I cannot slate anyone's driving without being a passenger but from the OPs post I can't accept that he can blame the car to get him out of lack of observational skills and common sense.
Apologies for my late response- life/ holidays, etc. & thank you all for your input. Having explained the circumstances in great detail- I'm unsurprised to have comments including their qualifications (in this case driving qualifications) & how the OP has messed up & they wouldn't have. This is not a contest & I can assure you that my qualifications are sufficient (my detailed description may have given an inkling). There was no collision or danger caused by my driving (although 'throwing out anchors', etc. may have insinuated too much drama). At no time was I out of control, I stopped within the distance I could see, no collision resulted, etc. I was quite disappointed about my car's handling of the incident... My old car would not have behaved in such a fashion, hence my posting my story/ queries... I have since returned to the location & the distance that I stopped in was shorter than I remembered, which actually complements the car to a degree, coupled to the fact that I had completed just over 1000 miles at the time, I accept that various components may not have bedded in. I had inflated the tyres to that pressure already, but the camber bolts sound like a good option (thanks R1NGA). That said; I'm taking my car in to KwikFit today for a geometry check & to assess the merits of gas shocks/ Michelin Cross Climates, etc. as they really transformed the Panda 4x4's handling (as mentioned previously). Many thanks for the constructive feedback, I find it so much more helpful than being told what I should have/ could have done (no one ever put enough money on a winning horse!)...
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Re: Very Soft Suspension Diesel Panda Cross 2018

And now for the update...
I had the wheel alignment & geometry checked & the front tracking was very badly 'toe-out'! I have had this rectified & because I am familiar with the effects that toe-out causes; I have not enquired as to the prices of either the Michelin tyres or the gas shocks. The toe-out setting will go a long way to explain why the car was so 'pendulous' during cornering & also reveals why the Panda veered left then right under heavy braking as the vehicle's weight loaded on wheels not pointing dead ahead.
I have taken my car for a test drive & the handling is crisp, with great feedback (no more vague handling with tyre screech during even minor, slow-speed cornering). I will say that it is not quite as 'pointy' as the old Panda, but allowing for the slightly higher ride height & the different compound of the standard tyres, coupled to the fact that the inside of the front tyres may well have been scrubbed off causing different wear & grip rates, the Cross has been transformed.
The lesson that I have learned is that I had trusted Fiat to supply me with a car that should have had accurate geometry. I had toyed with the thought of taking it to KwikFit right in the beginning & had I done so, I could probably have had a good case to get reimbersed for the cost. Sad to say; it was only a thought...
Thanks again for all the helpful feedback!
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Re: Very Soft Suspension Diesel Panda Cross 2018

Quote Originally Posted by Jacko575 View Post
And now for the update...
I had the wheel alignment & geometry checked & the front tracking was very badly 'toe-out'! I have had this rectified & because I am familiar with the effects that toe-out causes; I have not enquired as to the prices of either the Michelin tyres or the gas shocks. The toe-out setting will go a long way to explain why the car was so 'pendulous' during cornering & also reveals why the Panda veered left then right under heavy braking as the vehicle's weight loaded on wheels not pointing dead ahead.
I have taken my car for a test drive & the handling is crisp, with great feedback (no more vague handling with tyre screech during even minor, slow-speed cornering). I will say that it is not quite as 'pointy' as the old Panda, but allowing for the slightly higher ride height & the different compound of the standard tyres, coupled to the fact that the inside of the front tyres may well have been scrubbed off causing different wear & grip rates, the Cross has been transformed.
The lesson that I have learned is that I had trusted Fiat to supply me with a car that should have had accurate geometry. I had toyed with the thought of taking it to KwikFit right in the beginning & had I done so, I could probably have had a good case to get reimbersed for the cost. Sad to say; it was only a thought...
Thanks again for all the helpful feedback!
Hope all's well from now on. Reminds me of an experience with a Cinquecento Sporting some years ago - the steering geometry is totally different from the non-Sporting (?SX) but a garage set it up for the wrong model - felt very odd, except in reverse.
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Re: Very Soft Suspension Diesel Panda Cross 2018

Were your front tyres badly worn on the inside, excessive toe out usually shows up like this.
I would wonder on a new car why it was so far out.
It does explain why you had the braking issue and please accept my apologies for doubting your driving skills.
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