What is it?
It’s a Fiat pick-up truck. And yes, that’s right, we said a Fiat pick-up truck. Trying to cash in on the burgeoning one-tonne pick-up market, Fiat has decided the easiest way into this sector is to borrow another company’s product and simply rebadge it, give it new lights and a trendy name, and – voila – here’s the Fiat Fullback, which is essentially the Mitsubishi L200 in an Italian suit.
Unlike other manufacturers in this sector, Fiat has cottoned on to the fact that beneficial tax laws here in the UK mean many buyers of these pick-ups are actually private owners, who want the most in luxury and creature comfort, rather than utilitarian workhorse capabilities. Thus, the Fullback only comes as a well-appointed double-cab, with this top-spec LX model enjoying leather upholstery, 17-inch alloys, a 6.1-inch infotainment system with satnav, cruise control and a reversing camera, among much more.
Why are you driving it?
If you opt for LX over the base SX trim, you also get the Fiat’s (or rather, the Mitsubishi’s) more powerful 2.4-litre diesel engine, rated at 180hp and 430Nm. You can opt for an automatic gearbox but we’ve sampled the Fullback with a six-speed manual and, as all Fiat has changed in the transmogrification from L200 to Fullback is the front lights and grille, we wanted to know if the Italian truck could differentiate itself enough from the Mitsubishi upon which it is based, as well as a whole host of talented machines from rival companies in this growing market sector.
What do you like about it?
Like all of these one-tonne pick-ups, the Fullback is replete with charm. They offer a driving experience that’s unlike anything you’d find in a comparable SUV, which – to some people – will be too antiquated and rough to stomach. But there’s something about the Fiat’s chunky gearshift action, its muscular 2.4-litre engine and its rugged ride that’s hugely appealing.
The Fullback is also actually one of the more comfortable trucks we can remember driving, as the aforementioned ride is only really upset by the worst urban potholes and ruts – most of the time, on the motorway, you might forget you’re in a pick-up truck and think you’re in an SUV instead.
It’s also good on fuel, managing to hold more than 40mpg on a long motorway run and returning 32.4mpg across nearly 400 miles in our company. That was on one tank of fuel and it still had about another 150-200 miles of range, according to its trip computer, so it seems like a decent cruiser. And while Fiat hasn’t done a huge amount to change the looks of the L200, the Fullback nevertheless is a damned fine-looking thing, especially with its optional roof section for the load bay fitted.
Well, the Fullback is an excellent pick-up and it’s being sold at a very reasonable price, considering its standard specification, but there’s nothing particularly that makes it appeal to punters any more than its rivals. If you think of the Nissan NP300 Navara, that has multilink rear suspension, which makes for a smoother, more car-like ride. If you think of the Volkswagen Amarok, it comes with a mighty V6 diesel engine and the sort of refined cabin ambience that makes the Fiat’s interior look a bit dated and tired. If you think of a Toyota Hilux, then you’ve got a truck with a near-unimpeachable reliability record and an aura of real strength.
The Fullback, then, is very good, but is it good enough to have people who want a pick-up heading to Fiat dealerships first and foremost? And will its life get any easier once the Renault Alaskan and Mercedes X-Class arrive in the near future? We’d have to say ‘no’ was the answer to both of these questions.
What’s it like as a business vehicle – are there any tax benefits?
These one-tonne pick-ups are finding immense favour with private buyers because of the tax loopholes which allow them to be classified as commercial vehicles. As long as the Fullback will be employed for some sort of business use, it can be registered as a CV and thus qualify for low VED and Benefit-in-Kind tax. That’s why the vast majority of pick-ups in the UK are sold with top-level equipment grades, large alloy wheels and plenty of exterior styling accoutrements, rather than in the bog-basic specification that would suit them if they were going to spend their lives hauling one-tonne pallets, bags of cement and timber in their load beds on a regular basis.
Where does it rank in class right now?
The Fiat Fullback, for a first pick-up attempt for the Italian company, is a fine effort and there’s no real reason not to buy one, if you’re interested in this sort of truck as your personal wheels, as it’s handsome, good to drive and comfortable inside. But, by the same token, as good as it is there is also no real shining reason why you should buy the Fullback over and above any of its competitors – save for the fact it’s less than £30,000 new in this equipment-laden LX model. We like the Fiat, then, but we must say we like all of its competitors, too. In essence, if you’re after a pick-up, the wealth of quality choices available to you has just got a little bit wider, with the introduction of the stylish Fullback.
- Model: Fiat Fullback Professional LX
- Price: Fullback starts from £26,683 including VAT; LX from £28,653 including
- VAT (deduct 20 per cent VAT for commercial versions)
- Drivetrain: 2.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel, six-speed manual transmission, four-wheel drive
- Economy: 40.9mpg
- CO2 emissions: 186g/km – £240 VED for commercial vehicles; £3,230 Benefit-in-Kind tax
- Top speed: 111mph
- 0-62mph: 10.4 seconds
- Power: 180hp at 3,500rpm
- Torque: 430Nm at 2,500rpm