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Date: 09 Oct 2018 Author Type: Press Release
Author: Julian Lurie edited by Liam Mothilall
Source: Julian Lurie
With pickups becoming ever more popular - even the luxury brands such as Mercedes are building them based on the Nissan Navara, while Fiat Professional have launched, locally, their new double cab, the Fiat Fullback, which is based on the Mitsubishi Triton. The Fiat’s rugby position name hints at its ability to cope with the rough-and-tumble of an active life, and that’s certainly the impression you get on close inspection. The Fiat Professional Fullback is available in 3 model derivatives – the Single Cab 2.4 Petrol 4x2 STD Trim, the Double cab 2.5 diesel 4x2 SX Trim, and the top of the range Double cab 2.5 Diesel 4x4 LX diesel automatic, which is the model we feature in these road impressions.

The Fullback has sporty proportions with its forward extending cab and a reduced front overhang. The front has a definite touch of Italian style in line with the new stylistic mark of the brand. The sides have distinct ribs that streamline the body and the rear is well connected to the cab. The interior reflects the functionality of a work vehicle as well as the comfort and elegance of a high range SUV.

The flagship Double cab 2.5 Diesel 4x4 LX comes standard with part time 4WD, E-locker Rear Axle, 17” alloy wheels, which on the press vehicle were shod with Toyo Open Country 245/65R17 tyres, Bi Xenon headlights, cruise control, Bluetooth and USB, driver and passenger airbags, ABS with EBD, remote central locking, tow bar and rubberized rear load bin.

There’s lots of adjustment available for drivers of all sizes, and the double cab provides plenty of space for adults at the rear. Accesses to the rear bench seat is good too, thanks to the rear doors, but as is common in the pick-up sector low seats mean rear passengers sit with their knees up. Never-the-less, getting in and out of the new Fiat Fullback is quite easy, even with the high ground clearance, but it is perhaps a bit more difficult for ladies in mini-skirts. However, the high seating position does provide the driver with good all-round visibility.There are also two grab handles on the inside A pillars and another three above the side windows. Oddments storage is provided for in the large cubby, the four door pockets, a sunglass holder, lidded box between the front seats with two cupholders in the floor console, plus another two in the fold down rear seat armrest, and in magazine pockets behind the front seats.

From behind the wheel, the driver has full view of the dials capped under a sporty hooded binnacle, which are smart and easy to read. Standard items include leather upholstery, dual-zone auto air-conditioning, a reverse camera, an electrically adjustable driver's seat, tilt and telescopic multi-function steering wheel adjustment with Audio and Cruise Control, electric windows and rear view camera, but sadly no rear parking sensors.

The Fullback has an enormous load capacity and can accommodate a huge amount of cargo. The total length of the double cab is 5 345 mm, the length of the load compartment measures 1,520 mm and its capacity is more than one ton, and its towable weight is up to three tons.

The Fiat Fullback Double cab 2.5 Diesel 4x4 LX automatic is powered by a 2 442 cc four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine making 133 KW at 3 500 RPM and 430 NM of torque from 2 500 RPM and is linked to a 5-speed automatic gearbox. Fuel consumption is quoted at 7.8 litres per 100 kms which is rather optimistic, as the average reading I got from the trip recorder was 10.1 ltrs/100 kms. In acceleration tests, slotting the gearlever into the “drive” position to do its own changing, just floor the accelerator and after a slight hesitation as the turbo spools up, the Fullback took off and clocked a respectable time of 10.6 seconds for the 0 to 100 km/h dash after two gear changes, and has a top speed of around 170 km/h.

Out on the road, the Fiat Fullback is very smooth and refined for a diesel, with ample power and torque. There is a bit of diesel noise in the cab when idling, but on the road any diesel clatter fades into the background when travelling at freeway speeds. For driving around town, although the Fiat Fullback is a big vehicle, the well-weighted electric power steering and the good turning radius makes it relatively easy to park and drive. On the highways the new Fullback has a car-like feel and is quiet for a diesel SUV, and wind and tyre noise are well controlled

The engine is red-lined at 4 000 RPM, low by modern diesel standards, but progress is swift as peak torque is delivered at 2 500 RPM. At 120 km/h on the highway, the auto is ticking over at 2 200 RPM and at just 3 200 RPM at 160 km/h, and when you need to overtake, power comes in so strongly that you don't need a long run-up to get safely by. The five speed auto changes up and kicks down decisively and matches the low-down characteristics of the diesel. It is almost car-like in how quiet it is on the road, with just a hint of wind noise above 100 km/h and the requisite tyre roar over coarse-chip surfaces. With its considerable height the Fullback is not a sportscar; but it’s pretty good on twisty roads at safe speeds.

The Fiat’s high ground clearance means it can take on rougher terrain than most SUV’s will tolerate, and its suspension is designed to deal with fairly chunky obstacles. The turning circle is impressively tight, too. I took the Fullback LX 4x4 to my usual off-road testing track which is not severe but never-the-less good for testing a 4x4’s capability. Selecting 4x4 low range by turning the rotary knob on the floor console, and thanks to its very good approach, break-over, departure angles and ground clearance, the Fiat breezed through the obstacles making it all feel so easy.

The recommended retail selling price for the Fiat Professional Fullback Double cab 2.5 Diesel 131KW 4x4 with LX Trim is R559 900 which includes a 3 year / 100 000 km vehicle warranty and a 5yr / 100 000 km service plan.

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