The Italian Almanac

my name is Panda, Fiat Panda

Italian News - August 2

James Bond, the world's most famous secret agent, is to abandon the sleek, fast sports cars of the past for a plucky Fiat Panda with a top speed of just 90 mph. The Turin automaker has confirmed the startling news that in his next film, Casino Royale, the legendary seducer and undercover agent will be driving one of its budget utility vehicles.

By taking the wheel of one of Fiat's bottom-of-the-range models, the original 007 will be breaking a tradition of flashy, high-performance autos that goes back to the Aston Martin DB5 in 1964's Goldfinger. Since then there have been Lotus Esprits, BMWs and more Aston Martins, which 007 has always driven as fast as they would go, usually with a beautiful woman in the passenger seat.

The Fiat Panda to be driven by the new James Bond - the actor to replace Brosnan has not yet been named - takes 20 seconds to get from 0 to 60 mph and its top speed is not even half that of the Aston Martin. But according to sources close to the production company, it will be a fully armed miniature fortress, as indestructable as the other Bond cars. Details of the special gadgets have not yet been decided.

Casino Royale, directed by Martin Campbell, is expected to appear on cinema screens next year. In it, 007 must thwart a dangerous Russian spy from winning a baccarat game worth millions.