I don’t need to test drive, buy, or conduct an owner’s report to tell you the Fiat Full Back is a dirty mark on an otherwise remarkable portfolio from FCA — and it’s got nothing to do with how good a truck it actually is.
Before I get into this, I want to say, this comes from a very loving place. Andrew and myself at Men-In-Sheds are very vocal champions on FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles). We adore the little 500 and feel it’s the hottest little hatch out there. The Panda is, as confirmed by James May, cool. We feel the Renegade is funky and there’s not denying that the stuff coming out of Dodge is pure filth while Ram continue to dominate the full size US pickup range.
We’re also huge fans of Ralph Gilles and feel, if you haven’t watched his Episode of Abstract on Netflix, you are missing out on the life story of a legend.
And this is the whole freaking problem.
The fact we know Fiat is capable of so much and has such an amazing car designer like Gilles on hand makes the Fullback such a blatant and mediocre “white-space” cash in. It represents precisely what’s wrong with the car industry right now — cashing in via homogenisation because the accountants are now running the show.
If you don’t know what a Fiat Fullback is, and that’s perfectly acceptable given how much they blend in, picture a Mitsubishi L200 and… well… you’re already there. That’s because that’s exactly what it is. It’s an L200 with a Fiat badge on the grille and that’s totally unacceptable from this brand. We’re not saying the L200 is bad. We’re just saying FCA should be trying a lot harder, because they are missing a trick.
Let’s just stop and think here. FCA owns some of the most powerful brands in the off-road and pickup world. They own JEEP, and brand which is becoming increasingly popular in the UK. They also own RAM, probably the touchstone when it comes to pickup truck manufacturing.
But here’s where things get insane. Fiat have a small life-style pickup; it’s called the Fiat Toro, it’s built on the Renegade’s BU platform and it’s sadly only available in the Latin marketplace with not plans to introduce it elsewhere. Why Fiat? What are you scared of?
We can’t get our heads around this; who goes to Fiat for a mid-size pickup? Who associates Italy with mainstream commercial vehicles? This is a country that gave us the Piaggio Ape, which you’ve probably seen serving espressos on Shoreditch street corner, because the Italians excel in giving us small punchy bundles of excitement.
There’s also no ignoring the frankly trouser tent inducing Jeep Comanche concept which took the playful Renegade, gave it a crew cut, some khaki fatigues, and a pickup bed. The result is a truck equivalent of a Staffy bull terrier with a dog-tag on its collar.
Plus, on top of all of this, there’s the Wrangler pickup. Not just the official model set to launch this year but the official JK-8 conversion kit from Mopar which will turn your JKU into a 2-door pickup.
There’s no excuse. FCA could be hitting Europe with a small lifestyle truck such as the Fiat Toro (but we’d prefer the Comanche really), along with a dealer option mid-sized Jeep Wrangler Pickup, and a rhd full size Ram 1500 for good measure.
Well, there is an excuse, we guess — that’s upsetting the accountants. But the way we see it, it’s worth their scowls in the short term before the long tail returns come in as a reward for being the only pickup manufacturer out there with any kind of personality.