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The Cross is the new flagship of the Fiat Fullback pickup truck range. We see if there’s more to it than a few black plastic add-ons
  • First Drive

    Fiat Fullback Cross 2017 review

    The Cross is the new flagship of the Fiat Fullback pickup truck range. We see if there’s more to it than a few black plastic add-ons

What is it?

Not too long ago, pickup trucks were a bit of an odd choice in the UK. While our cousins across the pond couldn't get enough of them, we were much bigger fans of the drier and more secure cargo hold of the good old van.

But these days, the pickup is becoming more and more popular, helped by exceedingly tempting tax rates for company car drivers and the kind of outdoorsy image these trucks give. That’s where the Fiat Fullback Cross steps in, as a high-spec version of the regular Fullback with a bit more visual clout.

The additional attitude is generated by fancy 17in wheels, an aggressive new front grille, a ‘sports bar’ for the load bed and side steps all painted in a moody black. You also get black mirrors, door handles and wheel arch extensions, while a silver skidplate-effect bumper adds a little contrast.

To give a little substance, you also get a soft-opening tailgate, a 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system and a locking rear differential. The rest of the kit list is identical to the well-equipped Fullback LX. That means the only engine available is a 2.4-litre turbodiesel with 178bhp, although you do get the choice of a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic gearbox.

What's it like?

If you’ve driven a lesser Fullback or the mechanically identical Mitsubishi L200, you’ll know exactly what to expect here. That four-pot diesel can certainly get the Fullback Cross down the road at a reasonable pace, even with the performance-sapping slushbox fitted.

It doesn’t take too many revs to get a decent enough slug of power, and that’s handy, because this is an old-school oil burner that gets very vocal as engine speeds increase. Still, most other trucks out there aren’t exactly refined either, and this does quieten down nicely at a cruise. There’s a fair bit of wind and road noise as well, but barn door aerodynamics and chunky off-road tyres will do that.

The Fullback Cross's slightly agricultural feel continues with its ride. A live rear axle, leaf springs and not much weight over the tail mean progress can become pretty bouncy. You’ll also feel the chassis flex beneath you over bigger bumps and there’s plenty of fidget over tatty Tarmac.

Pitch the truck into a corner and you’ll find steering that is slow and uncommunicative. Even so, it’s still more precise than the Toyota Hilux and is easy enough to get used to. Once the Fullback Cross is turned in, there’s a fair bit of body roll and a modest amount of grip. Get on the power too hard and you’ll have the traction control clumsily stepping in, especially in the wet. You can turn it off, but then the unloaded rear end can try to overtake the nose if you’re not careful.

Of course, there’s a reason for all this. While a road-biased SUV might struggle with a bit of proper off-roading, the Fullback Cross soaks it up with aplomb. Its live rear axle gives plenty of articulation, four-wheel drive with a low-range 'box is standard and there are locking centre and rear diffs. And even in heavy rain, it can climb up muddy slopes easily without employing any of the locks or even venturing into low-ratio.

The Fullback Cross’s abilities don’t stop there – it can be a real workhorse, too. Both the auto and manual versions can tow up to 3100kg (as long as the trailer is braked) and the load bed can handle 1050kg. Handily, a sturdy bed liner comes as standard.

The interior is much the same as the driving experience – if you’re expecting it to feel like a regular SUV, you might be disappointed. There may be leather seats, dual-zone climate control and a few glossy trims, but the plastics are hard and it’s sturdy rather than stylish. 

Should I buy one?

If you’re intending to do some hardcore off-roading, the Cross is arguably the best version of the Fullback. We’ve no doubt that the locking rear diff could get you out of some very sticky situations, while the bed liner and plastic wheel arch extensions will protect your paint.

Of course, many people won’t be too interested in the practicalities of Cross trim – they’ll be more interested in how it looks. Either way, the premium over LX trim isn’t too hefty should you be tempted.

Just remember that, as with all pickup trucks, you’ll be reminded of the Cross’ commercial roots all too frequently. 

Fiat Fullback Cross

Location Turin, Italy On sale Now Price £26,495 (excl. VAT) Engine 4 cyl, 2442cc, turbocharged diesel Power 178bhp at 3500rpm Torque 317lb ft at 2500rpm Gearbox 5-spd automatic Kerb weight 1860kg 0-62mph 11.8sec Top speed 111mph Economy 47.0mpg CO2 196g/km Rivals Mitsubishi L200, Ford Ranger

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Comments
5

10 November 2017

Why would you buy this over the Mitsubishi? Surely the residual values are keener on the well established L200 vs the FoolBack which is important to the business users and therefore CH rates?

 

11 November 2017

The draw of the fiat badge will be a strong incentive for many. Along with the mind bending discounts.

Spanner

13 November 2017

I look forward to the Fiat Centreback, Holding Midfielder and Centre Forward

14 November 2017

...the fiat Mike Brown edition for the rugby fans. I am sure he would be delighted with this.

Spanner

9 January 2018

Great Post! I love how they gave each vibe of the fashion a name in this volume, and your overall look and details in this post is superb.

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