PICK-UP MARKET GROWS AS FIAT ADDS NEW FULLBACK
Based on the Mitsubishi L200, the Fullback has a familiar body shape. Many will prefer its less showy front end treatment, however. Inside, top-spec models get all the toys – as well as an auto option. The range-topper also has a full-time four-wheel drive system offering the choice of 2wd or open-diff 4x4 modes for road use. Saving £2000 on the base-speccer has a lot of appeal, though, as this trades the fancy transfer case for a simple part-time unit – and gains a locking diff in the rear axle
Badge-engineered Mitsubishi L200 • Only available as double-cab • Rear diff lock or full-time 4wd • From £20,995+VAT
The British pick-up market now contains a greater variety of brands than ever before, with the arrival last month of Fiat’s new Fullback double-cab. Based on the latest Mitsubishi L200, this is an exclusively four-door model with an ex-VAT list price starting at £20,995.
Like the L200, the Fullback is a traditional pick-up truck with a ladder chassis, live rear axle and dual-range transfer box. Another similarity is that it offers two distinct four-wheel drive systems, one part-time and one full-time – even though there are essentially only two models in the range.
Powering the Fullback is a 2442cc engine with a choice of power outputs. In the entry-level SX model, it develops 148bhp, while the LX range-topper gets 178bhp; torque figures are 280 and 317lbf.ft respectively, though in the lower-powered model this comes in at a more usable 1500rpm, compared to the top version’s 2500.
A six-speed manual gearbox is standard on both models, however the LX is also available with a five-speed auto. Beyond this, the SX has a simple part-time four-wheel drive system, whereas the LX offers the latest version of Mitsubishi’s Super-Select layout, with a choice of 2wd and 4wd for road work as well as the usual high and low-range positions when the centre diff is locked.
The L200 has been well received for its off-road ability since launch, and the Fullback can be expected to match this – especially the basic SX, which comes on 205R16 tyres as standard and has a locking diff in its rear axle. The SX runs 245/65R17s and, as usual for vehicles with the Super-Select system, loses its rear locker. Quoted off-road data for all models includes 205mm ground clearance and approach and departure angles of 30 and 22 degree respectively.
Elsewhere, the SX includes cruise, air-con and a DAB digital audio system with Bluetooth and controls on the steering wheel. Safety features include seven airbags and a stability control programme including trailer assist.
Talking of trailers, however, as with the L200 a definite black mark against the Fullback is its ability to tow only 2700kg in SX form. The LX increases this to 3100kg, but in an era when most trucks can now pull the legal maximum these figures will cost it sales.
Another set of important figures is the kind relating to fuel efficiency. The Fullback returns 44.2mpg in SX form, emitting 169g/km of CO2 in the process. The more powerful LX achieves 42.8mpg and 173g/km, though these figures slide to 39.2mpg and 189g/km in auto form.
More welcome things you get from the LX include leather, xenons, dual-zone climate, keyless start, electric heated front seats and touch-screen sat-nav. The screen also turns into the display for a reversing camera, and the suspension is revised with a more comfortable ‘Touring’ setting – at no cost to the vehicle’s payload, which stays the same as on the SX. Auto models get paddles for changing gear and, rather oddly, an enhanced multimedia system with a bigger screen.
On the outside, it’s been suggested in some quarters that the Fullback’s styling is actually more appealing than that of the L200 on which it’s based. Going by what we’ve seen so far, we wouldn’t necessarily take issue with that – Fiat describes its truck as having ‘the upmarket appearance of a sports SUV,’ but to us it looks less showy than the Mitsubishi and, certainly from the front, more comfortable in its own skin. The LX does get some more chrome, as well as extended wheelarches to cover its fatter tyres, but both versions do feature alloy wheels as standard.
The price of all this is £26,253 including VAT for the SX and £28,653 for the LX, with the auto option bumping the latter up still further to £30,333. That’s more or less level-pegging with similarly specced L200 models, which on the surface sounds like it will give the Fullback a mountain to climb, however with fleet operators always keen to buy all their vehicles from the same source, Fiat’s strong position in the van market will certainly give it the opportunity to establish a foothold.
That’s good news for Fiat and Mitsubishi alike. And for Britain’s off-roaders, the arrival of the Fullback means more choice but not more money – especially at the bottom of the range, this is looking like a welcome addition to the range of hard-working double-cabs on offer.
List (ex-VAT) OTR (inc VAT)
SX £20,995 £26,235
LX £22,995 £28,635
LX Auto £24,395 £30,333