The Fiat Fullback is the Italian manufacturer’s first foray into the world of 4×4 pick-ups and nowadays, with research and development cost so high, the firm has matched many others by teaming up with another manufacturer for a rebadge job.
For this vehicle Fiat chose Mitsubishi – and the Fullback is none other than an L200 with a Fiat badge and slightly reworked front end. And, as this vehicle is one of the best-selling 4×4 trucks in Great Britain, with a tried-and-trusted pedigree most of us are already familiar with, this choice seems a wise one.
But why should fleets choose this version rather than the Mitsubishi one?
There are two reasons we can think of. First, the Fiat Professional dealer network is much bigger than Mitsubishi’s and offers a service that is firmly aimed at satisfying the specific needs of commercial fleet users.
And second, opting for the Fullback rather than the L200 means that fleets can choose a nice range of Fiat cars, vans and trucks in one solus signing, without having to deal with lots of different organisations.
Having tested left-hand drive versions in September last year, we’ve finally got our hands on a UK spec model. Our test vehicle is the LX variant, which sports a 2.4-litre turbo-diesel powerplant pumping out a meaty 180PS and 430Nm of torque, which means it will never be short of power either on or off the road.
At £28,653 ex-VAT we are not exactly talking bargain basement here, but you do get an awful lot of standard kit including alloy wheels, side steps, a rear-view camera, a touchscreen sat-nav unit, lane departure warning and various off-road systems that mean in the rough, the truck just about looks after itself without any help from the driver.
Unlike Mitsubishi, which offers single-cab ‘cooking’ versions, Fiat only has double-cabs on sale at present in two trim levels SX and LX – which may affect some fleet buying decisions. But the vast majority of these pick-ups are double-cabbers, anyway, so we won’t mark Fiat down for its decision here. Of course many will also be chosen by fleet car drivers looking to cut down on their benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax bills.
We certainly admired all the ruffty-tufty bling such as those snazzy alloys and chrome sidebars. But, while we can’t fault the pick-up for its off-road performance, the on-road driving experience proved rather last generation compared to some of the newer rivals such as the Toyota Hilux which, incidentally, has just picked up the Best 4×4 Truck prize at the recent Commercial Fleet Awards.
The suspension is unpleasantly harsh on everything but the smoothest of roads and, rather annoyingly, the front passenger seat on our test model rattled like a barn door in a gale every time we went over a bump.
The long throw gear lever makes for some rather rubbery gear changes at times too, while the clutch is also on the heavy side for our liking.
That said, the Fullback offers vast comfortable seats and fairly lopes along while underway and at least on motorways, it settles down to a satisfactory quiet thrum at 70mph.