The Fiat Panda Cross has been pitted against much more serious off-road vehicles in the past, because it is well known that it can punch above its weight on rough ground. The little all-wheel drive Panda is known for its agility and remarkable traction, which is why it actually may beat a Tesla Model X off-road.
That’s what carwow host Mat Watson wanted to find out when he tried the two vehicles back to back on quite a tricky off-road course. Sure, on level ground, the Model X (in this case a 100D model) would leave the small, two-cylinder Fiat for dead, but in any kind of challenging off-road environment, it’s the Fiat that does better.
And as was the case in many other Panda Cross versus other larger SUV tests, the Fiat is the clear winner after being compared to the Tesla over several tricky parts of the off-road course. The Model X’s main problem is that its long wheelbase will see it bottom out far sooner than the Fiat, and this means it can’t get over some hill crests where the Panda has no issues.
The Tesla also weighs twice as much as the Fiat too, and this further hinders its off-road performance. It still did pretty well, given the fact that it’s not really designed to go off-road and it was on high performance road rubber, while the Panda was on a set of slightly more rugged tires that gave it more grip in key moments.
The takeaway from this test is pretty clear: you can’t beat a short wheelbase, low-weight vehicle with decent ground clearance off-road, regardless how much power you may have. The Tesla did pretty well overall, and even won a few of the tests, but it also had a pretty strong opponent that could only realistically be beaten in this test by a more serious proper off-roader.