Fiat Professional Fullback ; Mitsubishi in disguise.
Fiat Professional launched their fist pick-up back in 29016. The Fullback is in essence a Mitsubishi L200, which won the CCV pick-up of the Year award back in 2015, that has been cleverly rebadged by Fiat, to allow them a crack at the ever increasing global pick-up market, worth a whopping 650,000 units across Europe, Middle East & Africa in 2015 with 40,000+ of those finding homes here in the UK. The Fullback has allowed Fiat to enter the pick-up market for the first time & rather than invest in their own technology, they have piggy-backed into the sector using the tried & tested Mitsubishi L200, which the Fullback is based on.
Fiat have kept the range simple, with UK customers offered 3 models; the 2.4 150hp SX, 2.4 180hp LX and the 2.4 180hp LX automatic, plus two range topping Cross models, with prices in the UK starting from £21,995 excluding VAT & OTR charges, for the 150hp SX manual, with the LX manual costing £24,145 & the LX Auto £25,545.
In terms of styling, the front of the Fullback adopts the upmarket appearance of a sports SUV with its swept-back fascia, chunky front bumper and roomy cab-forward layout. Distinctive lines along the flanks tie the front of the pickup truck to the rear & along with the sweeping shape of the front and rear lamps, help fully integrate the load bed as part of the vehicle’s overall design. Detailing is tasteful & restrained with two strips of satin silver trim used to frame the front grille on the entry-level SX, while LX versions also have a subtle satin silver trim around sump protector, as well as chrome-finished door mirrors, door handles and side steps. Attractive 16-inch alloy wheels are standard on the SX while the profile of the LX model is enhanced with 17-inch alloy wheels and substantial, body-coloured wheel arch protectors.
The interior is light years away from pick-ups of old. Standard equipment on the SX version includes 16″ alloy wheels, side steps,body coloured front bumper, electronic 4WD selector (3 modes), Start&Stop, cruise control with variable speed limiter, radio CD with Bluetooth® hands free connectivity, keyless entry, manual climate control, leather steering wheel & gear lever, adjustable driver’s seat (sliding, height, reclining), front armrest, rear armrest with cup holder, rear head restraints, front & rear electric windows, 4-speaker sound system, heated rear window, front & rear fog lights ESC with ABS, Trailer Stability Assist, Hill Start Assist, rear body guard frame, immobiliser, driver, passenger, curtain and knee air bags & ISOFIX child seat mountings x2. Lane Departure Warning & reversing camera are both standard on the LX version.
Fullback SX is powered by an aluminium-block, 2.4-litre Euro 6 diesel engine with a variable-geometry turbo charger which produces 150hp and 380Nm of torque yet its official combined-cycle fuel economy figure is just 40.9MPG & its CO2 emissions are 180g/km. The standard SX transmission comprises a six-speed manual gearbox with on demand four-wheel drive system with three electrically-selected settings: 2H, 4H and 4L.
The power & torque outputs of LX version are increased to 180hp and 430Nm, while the full-time four-wheel drive system has four electrically-controlled settings: 2H, 4H plus 4HLc and 4LLc with a locking central differential for improved traction. Its official combined-cycle fuel economy figure is 38.9.MPG & its CO2 emission figure is 186g/km.
Technical highlights across all Fiat Professional Fullback models include a one-tonne payload with a bed length of up to 1.52m, 3,100kg un-braked towing capacity (2,700kg for the SX model), best-in-class 12m turning circle. Sophisticated double wishbone front suspension and a solid axle with leaf springs for maximum reliability and sturdiness.
We had the 6-speed LX 180 manual version of the Fullback with us for a week & it it didn’t disappoint. When you take the Fullback out for a drive on road, there is very little in the way of diesel clatter inside the Fullback’s cabin & once up & running, the engine soon settles into a smooth idle. Put your foot down & the thrust of 317lb ft of torque increases the decibels pretty quickly & you really get a feel for the power on tap that the Fullback offers. The real bonus of this is that on road you’ve got plenty of overtaking power & on a trip to the north east which took in the A66, the Fullback showed it’s fighting spirit as we overtook a series of horse boxes on the way to the A1. Despite being the manual version – I know many prefer an auto pick-up on road – we found the clutch light & the gear change smooth & the bonus of six gears was a bonus on our M6 motorway drive.
Although Fiat describe the Fullback as a ‘leisure vehicle” & I’m sure in North America, Asia & Africa it will be used both for work & for play, in Europe including the UK, the Fullback is very much a pick-up & where leisure time is concerned, will not in most cases be a replacement for your SUV soft roader. If your wife & kids had to sit in the rear of the Fullback for any length of time, I promise that they won’t thank you for buying one, because although the two front seats offer a fairly comfortable ride, those in the back will wish they were riding the relatively smooth ‘Rubber Dingy Rapids’ at Alton Towers, because it’s bumpy in there. There is though, plenty of headroom in the rear with even the leg room acceptable, unless you’re sitting in the middle seat. the rear. The rear seats are also placed high in comparison with the two front seat passengers, allowing those in the back to look down on the driver & front seat passenger & to get a great view of the road ahead.
On road, the Fullback drives just fine in 2WD. On our way back from Sunderland, we took a couple of off-road lanes on, in Cumbria close to Derwent Water & in 4WD, the Fullback performed admirably, although just like the L200, it’s shorter wheelbase & size is noticeably less able to handle the biggest craters & ruts, quite as well as the larger Nissan Navara or Isuzu D-Max.
Goodies such as SatNav, Bluetooth & a rear view camera are fitted to the LX model, which I tested & so those of you who want toys in the cabin, will not be disappointed. Just don’t expect the dashboard & fittings, to be made of the top notch plastics or feel soft to the touch. The cabin quality is functional rather than luxurious. The quality inside isn’t as good as you’d find in the new upmarket X-Class or Amarok, but it feels built to last none-the-less.
If you really need a pick-up to be used … as a pick-up then the dimensions would be quite useful.
Height 1,780mm; Kerb weight 1,875kg
Towing (unbraked) 3,100kg
Off-road angles: approach 30°, departure 22°
Ground clearance 205mm
From a purely practical point of view, the Fullback may not quite match the capabilities of the larger Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, Ford or Isuzu pick-ups, but it is undoubtedly better-looking than all of these & it’s slightly more diminutive size enables one to drive & park it in town, much more easily than it’s larger competitors a sit has a 1e2m turning circle. However, it offers a heavy-duty rear axle & is still capable of carrying up to 990kg in the load area when towing 3.1 tonnes. From a fuel economy perspective we averaged a respectable 32.9mpg in our time in the Cross, a better figure than we achieved in the X-Class, Hilux, D-Max, Amarok & Ranger by about 5-6mpg.
I drove the SX version in manual guise & it did include the goodies we are all starting to expect on our vehicle of choice, including keyless go, leather upholstery, electrically-adjusted & heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, bi-xenon headlamps with washers, enhanced body styling, privacy glass and a 6.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system with DAB, Bluetooth connectivity & SatNav, Lane Departure Warning, a reversing camera. A comfort-orientated “touring” suspension is also included in the LX specification.
In conclusion, the Fullback may be a ‘fake,’ a ‘plastic,’ but even if it is, it’s a bloody good one. There’s nothing wrong with the Mitsubishi L200 & there’s nothing wrong with the Fiat Professional Fullback either. Fiat Professional dealerships, may be your best bet for a look at the Fullback, as customers who buy or lease one will get the benefits of a fully commercial network, meaning out-of hours servicing & a willingness to listen to your commercial needs, something that perhaps a car based dealer wouldn’t do. And, if you already run Fiat Professional vehicles, you now have a ready-made pick-up to complete your fleet.
An Optimus Prime 3.75/5