Fiat Fullback in

field of pick-up

dreams

Fiat Fullback, 2016, front
Fiat Fullback, 2016, front, static
Fiat Fullback, 2016, rear
Fiat Fullback, 2016, off road

NOT many people associate Fiat with big stuff like pick-ups.

Generally speaking here is a brand favoured by fashionable young things, chaps in tight mohair with a Tourette's habit which encompasses just one word, 'Ciao'.

The 500 and its various offspring are stylish around town cars. You would not expect a horny-handed son of toil to squeeze out of one to askdirections tothe nearest Wicksor the Slough rodeo.

Similarly I do not believe Fiat stocksmerchandised Dolce and Gabbana Ducato van man sunglasses.

So I rather fear that were a Fullback pick-up to appear on the streets of Rome shoemakers would shut up shop and the Trevi fountain weep tears of blood.

But wait a minute, Fiat don't make pick-ups do they? Well that's the first thing to remember about the Fullback, it is basically a Mitsubishi L200 and if you are going to be borrower you may as well borrow the blueprint from a market leader.

And what about that name? Fiat says it represents the solidity and cornerstone nature of a rugby or American space football last line of defence. Therefore don't run into it with your head down unless you want to wear your face as a pancake.

A stylised locking rear cover attracted manyadmiring glances from those with a Bob Harris country music tendency but just let me say, pretty though it is, practicality becomes the fashion victim and this one was not fitted particularly well, either.

Okay what do you get for a basic price of £20,995 ex-VAT.

The entry level spec is the SX - which equates to the Mitsubishi Titan. It comes with a 2.4-litre engine so is hardly likely to be a racer, 0-60mph arrives in just under 11seconds and high 30s in mpg is a reasonable aspiration.

The L200 is considered to be generally one of the more road-friendly pick-ups and so expect a reasonable, untroubled ride from the Fiat.

The lower powered version is available in manual only and has a center mounted selector for drive modes including two-wheel on road setting.

A more powerful 180bhp version was the one tested and with that you can have an automatic gearbox and in LX spec with permanent AWD.

Practicality is good, loads of passenger room and a good load bed if you don't go for the locking lid.

Inside there is no lack of comfort, pretty standard stuff for the latest generation of pick-ups.

There is a good list of safety and convenience technologies including trailer assist hall start and hazard lights which come on under heavy braking.

Upgrading to the LX comes at a cost of £22,995, tax on top of that, with manual shift, standard leather, reversing camera, heated seats and a touchscreen infotainment system.

Even so the SX is generous and a good place to be. There's a DAB radio, air conditioning stop-start, cruise control and LED running lights.

The popularity of pick-ups is nothing at all to do with the assertion by some sideways-walking lobby groups that it is just a case of sad men having a mid-life crisis. For business users there are big tax benefits and the quality of double cabs also means that if you have a rough and tumble recreational interest all bases are covered by one vehicle.

However, and you only have to watch the nightly weather to see how true this is, climatically the world is about to end if it has not already and while the Fullback was with me we got some of what can only be described as winter.

You know, hailstones, cold, wet with patronising warnings not to go out without wrapping up well as if January is a top month for casual nudism.

So be prepared, do your bit, go large, like the L200 the Fiat will cope with all off-road and weather challenges

One issue, however. This version costs £246 more than the equivalent Mitsubishi and, given the general ignorance abroad today, all people will ask is why you bought a Fiat. After all, they don't make pick-ups do they?

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