Words Andrew Middleton, Images Dirk Visagie
“A Fiat bakkie?” I hear you say. Well, yes and no. Manufactured on the same Taiwanese production line as the new Mitsubishi Triton, the Fiat Fullback is the very essence of badge engineering, but with a twist.
By using the previous generation Triton 2.5l engine (as opposed to Mitsubishi’s new 2.4), and keeping the recipe fairly simple, Fiat is offering the Fullback at prices somewhere between those of equivalent Chinese offerings and mainstream products, yet using proven hardware from the trusted brand that is Mitsubishi.
The Fullback is offered in three variants: a petrol 2WD single cab, a low-output diesel double cab, and what we have here − the top spec high-output diesel double cab.
The Fullback will be distributed by the FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) group together with Jeep and Chrysler products, and wears the ‘Professional’ moniker alongside Fiat’s other commercial vehicles.
A large Fiat badge does look a bit odd on a bakkie, and the smell of glue is also rather perplexing, but the rest is good at first glance.
Comfortable leather seats and ample room for four adults are positives, and visibility outwards is good, too. In addition, a 7-inch touchscreen with navigation and a reversing camera all look up-to-the-minute on paper.
Strangely though, the infotainment system’s radio stops working when the navigation is turned on, stopping your tunes until you find where you’re going.
Also, unless you have pre-set radio stations, the system makes it so difficult to choose specific radio frequencies that I gave up more often than not, and listened to tyre roar instead – so it’s clear where money has been saved in this department.
A multifunction steering wheel with cruise control is the standard nowadays, and a pleasantly functional example is seen here, too.
A very basic trip computer is supplied, but it lacks some information, including instant fuel economy.
There’s nothing wrong with the looks and design of this bakkie. A sharp shoulder crease is the big standout, but the rest – including a fairly big rounded trapezoidal grille – is fairly generic fare.
Look closely, and you’ll see a Mitsubishi hiding under there. Note the tell-tale curved link between the load bay and cabin, as well as the (very low) side steps, which the two brands share.
Have a look in the load bay and you’ll find it coated in 3mm thick black polyurethane from Rhino Linings – something that no other brand offers as standard.