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Old 08-07-2007   #1
Join Date: Jun 2007
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Thumbs up Road Trip

Well Iíve just come back from a week on the Isle of Wight and have put a grand total of 779 miles on the clock and have really put my Panda through its paces. Before we started the odometer read a mere 1015 now at 1794 for me about a months normal driving in one week.

We set off early last Saturday and straight onto the M5 where for a small engine (1.2 Dynamic) the car handled the motorway with ease carrying two and loaded with luggage. In fact several times I had to ease off the accelerator as I found myself going 80mph and felt that if needed the car could easily do more.

The off at junction 11A and over Bird Lip tested the little car up that steep hill but if judged correctly and in proper gear at the right time no drama. Across the A417/419 Swindon bypass early morning and very little traffic Panda easily maintained 70mph. On thing I did note was especially in the rain the differing road surfaces created some strange road noise. On small compliant is that the car does have a fair amount of road noise and the pitch would change when going over the various types of tarmac the most alarming is the different colour (I think non slip) surface where the noise gave quite a bit growl and rumble I donít know whether it is the eco tyres I have fitted?

Then after Marlbourgh Panda was tested on the twist and turns of the Wallops where at some points I was glad of its small size especially when meeting vans coming the other way on blind tight bends in the rain! Again Panda impressed and with the high driving position it was easy to see what was ahead and had no problem rallying round these roads.

Through Romsey and into Southampton we got to the ferry over an hour early but because of the small size was waved straight onto the earlier ferry and squeezed into the back.

Onto the Island and the roads in East Cowes are fine but quickly into fast narrow and I have to say poorly maintained country roads. Again Panda impressed with the sometimes steep (I even went up a windy one with a 25% gradient in Ventnor!) very tight and twisty fast roads (many are national speed limit single carriage way) no drama no problems and easily handled what every the Island had to throw at it. Again the only small niggle was the very firm handling which made for quite a bumper ride.

I drove nearly everyday across from Sandown to Freshwater along the Military road a fast narrow road with every type a twist and turn, steep uphill and downhill gradients usually on a bend but the reward is a stunning approach with white cliffs looming up as after a very tight downhill turn a steady climb at a camber right to the top of a hill overlooking Freshwater Bay.

Ventnor with it incredibly tight and twisty turns was ideal for Panda along with the tight seafront where bigger cars where having to pull in to allow each other to pass Panda had no problems negotiating the narrow street.

Overall I was very happy with Pandaís performance the boot though small is quite tall and easily fitted a large suitcase in it plus odd plastic bags shoved down the sides and the back seat had a large holdall and a couple of coats. The tardis interior defies such a small car, it feels like a much bigger car. The small exterior is ideal for tight little car parking spaces and many times I would smile as a bigger car would drive past a space that I could easily fit into Economy was good too. I put £25 in on the Friday before I left then filled up again on the Tuesday at about a quarter tank another £25 and then topped it up on the Saturday with £15 for the drive back and have just under half a tank left enough for next week when sadly back at work.

I would recommend the Panda to anyone it is fun to drive and amazing on the motorway, the faster it goes the better it feels. It has enough power for all types of driving though I would say getting the gears right when approaching steep hills will make life easier a couple of times I left it a little late changing down from fourth to third only to find it struggle whereas if changed in time no problems. A nice little car which over the last week as impressed me no end.
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