This Panda is a secret WRC weapon

07th December 2021
Ethan Jupp

M-Sport is normally in the business of preparing Bentley GT racers and Ford rally cars. So why does its latest creation, from a distance, resemble a classic Fiat Panda 4x4? Because it’s been cooking up something fun, if not totally unrelated to its other contemporary motorsport exploits. Meet the Panda 4x4 by M-Sport, a Mk1 R5 Ford Fiesta rally car wearing a vintage rugged hatch suit.


The result is something that would look at home at a 1986 round of the World Rally Championship. Box-arched, square-jawed, caged and bristling with attitude, this is quite unlike any Panda 4x4 we’ve ever seen. It’s a curious integration of two components that if not executed well, could have seen one pollute the other. As it stands, the Fiesta underpinning hasn’t at all polluted the retro-cool style of the Panda, nor vice versa. Unsurprising, that maintaining as much of the Panda’s visual DNA was a key goal in this project for M-Sport.

So what of the original Panda actually remains? Well, the bonnet and grille are made by combining two originals, to account for the extra width of the new engine bay. In addition, the original wiper linkage, wing mirrors and door latches are present and correct. The original body shell is also retained, albeit widened by a massive 360mm.


The rest of the spec is pure proven R5 rally car, that’s been serving diligently, winning almost 1,000 rallies, since its introduction in 2013. That includes a 1.6-litre EcoBoost engine good for 290PS-plus (213kW), McPherson Strut suspension with three-way adjustable dampers, adjustable ARBs, a five-speed sequential transmission and all-wheel-drive with front and rear Sadev diffs. This is a Panda that’ll crack 62mph in under three seconds on the right surface. R5 suspension is retained and Brembo four-piston callipers with 355mm discs are added, as well as an 80-litre FIA-spec fuel tank. Like the braking system, the glasshouse is new, fitted and styled for the Panda but rated for rallying.

There’s lots of Panda influence and nods on the inside, while the meat of the instrumentation is pure R5 goodness, including the LifeRacing electronic dash and bespoke electronics.

The last question really is, why? Well, M-Sport proudly says “because we can”. Thanks to its new manufacturing facilities and test track in the Lake District, this is the first of what it hopes will be a number of cars to be commissioned for production by its new M-Sport Special Vehicles (MS-SV) arm. They’re taking enquiries now if you’ve got a hair-brained hybrid such as this in mind…

  • Fiat

  • Panda

  • Ford

  • Fiesta

  • WRC

  • M-Sport

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    Festival of Speed

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