English racing and engineering firm M-Sport is probably best known for the Bentley Continental GT3 endurance racer and the Ford Fiesta R5 customer rally car. Since building the first of 294 Fiesta R5 Mk. I cars in 2013, the fleet of pint-sized competitors has won a total of more than 950 races. So when a longstanding M-Sport customer asked the company to do something special with a clapped-out, 1990s-era Fiat Panda that would retain the car’s Panda-ness but also make it a stonking rally car, M-Sport decided to combine the Italian with the Anglo-American. The result is the Panda by M-Sport, a widened Panda bodyshell lowered atop a Fiesta R5 chassis and engine. Otherwise known as Panda’monium. Or Pandiesta, if you’re tipsy.
Just fitting the skinny Fiat over the tube-frame chassis meant widening the Panda’s body shell by 14.2 inches; that slick grille is actually made of two Panda grilles to gain the required width. That surgery helps maintain the original Panda’s silhouette, but more was needed to slide the Fiesta’s wider track underneath. More latitudinal stretch was provided by the box-section wheel arches that, up front, flow into a front bumper that is half snowplow. In the longitudinal direction, the Pandiesta’s wheelbase is 12.6 inches longer than that of the stock Panda.
The Ford’s 1.6-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder lives under the hood. It sends nearly 300 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque to four Pirelli P Zeros through a five-speed sequential transmission and two custom differentials. The new rear diffuser and single, central exhaust convey the seriousness of the endeavor. Hand-embossed lettering spells “PANDA 4×4” on the rear hatch in case anyone has questions about this having as much capability as the standard Panda 4×4. The interior is all Fiesta R5 save for the Panda-mimicking instrument panel and the co-driver’s footrest. The latter is also inscribed with the word “PANDA.”
Despite the license plate, there’s no question of street legality here, or rather illegality. M-Sport says the Panda’monium is ready to do any special stage on tarmac or gravel. Seems this is also the car that launches a new division for customer creations called MS-SV, which is M-Sport Special Vehicles. You can watch M-Sport owner Malcom Wilson take you on tour of the Panda by M-Sport in the video at top, and check out what the finished product can do on a track here.