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FCA turned to Mazda when it wanted RWD roadsters for its Fiat and Abarth brands. Then, when it sought expertise in one-tonne pick-ups, the company signed a deal to have Mitsubishi Motors supply Fiat and Fiat Professional with an L200-based model. We know how great the two 124 Spiders turned out to be, but just how good is the Fullback?

For Mitsubishi Motors, the agreement to provide FCA with a version of its L200/Triton pick-up makes much sense.

For Mitsubishi Motors, the agreement to provide FCA with a version of its L200/Triton pick-up makes much sense. Currently in the midst of a Nissan-led restructuring, all additional income and production must be very welcome.

Even though it remains Mitsubishi's best performing light commercial - worldwide sales in 2016 reached 125,000 units - the donor vehicle is now three years old. That is often the point in any model's lifecycle when sales begin to slip. Adding a new vehicle to the line at one of its Thai plants can only be a good thing.

Mitsubishi has three Laem Chabang plants. The Triton/L200 and Fullback are made at Factory #2. There will probably be a facelift for both in 2019, which should keep them fresh until the next generation models are released in 2023. That's provided, of course, that FCA doesn't go its own way for the Fullback 2. The Mitsubishi at least, will ditch its by then 18 year old platform in favour of an architecture that will be shared with the Nissan Navara NP300/Frontier. The Nissan is also due for replacement in 2023.

The Fullback, which manages to look genuinely different to the L200 from many angles, is for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The Toro, a smaller pick-up, which is based on the locally-built Jeep Renegade, is built in Brazil. The main engineering differences between them is the rear-drive/four-wheel drive architecture of the Mitsubishi-built model versus the front-wheel drive/AWD platform of the made-in-Brazil model.

The world premiere for the Fullback took place at November 2015's Dubai motor show, production commencing in April 2016. There was additional news in the form of the Fullback Cross earlier this year. This even tougher look derivative has raised suspension and various design tweaks. The global debut for the Cross was at the Geneva motor show back in March, sales commencing from August, although more recently than that for the UK market.

Going against the trend for declining registrations of LCVs in Britain, registrations for pick-ups are brisk.

Going against the trend for declining registrations of LCVs in Britain, registrations for pick-ups are brisk. During the eleven months to 30 November, sales were up by 7.9 per cent to 47,344 vehicles. Ford's Ranger remains the segment leader, with YtD deliveries of 11,885, enough to place it inside the top ten for light commercials, and the only pick-up to be on that list.

According the FCA, Fullback, both Fiat and Fiat Professional-badged, have sold 1,721 units since launch in April last year. It would be surprising if the entries by Renault and Mercedes-Benz into this segment didn't lift awareness and sales for rival models during 2018.

Fiat dealers sell the Fullback in various forms but all trucks have four doors and room for five occupants. There is a choice of two trim levels: SX and LX. A 2.4-litre Mitsubishi four-cylinder diesel is the only engine. It has 150PS in the SX and 180PS in the LX. Manual gearboxes have six speeds but if you want automatic transmission, it's a five-speeder, which is three fewer than what's on offer in the rival VW Amarok. That said, the LX I drove was so equipped and the lack of ratios wasn't an issue. Abundant torque - 430Nm - is the reason why. It's worth choosing the pricier of the two, as the extra 30PS also brings with it an additional 50Nm.

The cabin of the Mitsubishi original might be three years old yet there is nothing outdated about it. The differences in the Fiat are minimal, stretching to a big badge in the centre of the steering wheel, for example. The back seat might not split (see pic) but it does at least fold to reveal a space where belongings can be hidden.

The auto gearbox has steering wheel paddles, something I always miss in cars which lack them and the shifts are far smoother than you might be led to believe if 'light commercial vehicle' means rattly van to you. That's an outdated view, and with so very many OEMs competing in Europe's pick-up segment, it's easy to see why the standard of refinement is high.

There's a live rear axle and this has drum brakes at its extremes.

At 5,305mm long, the Fullback can be a touch on the tricky side for Britain's too-short parking spaces, although width is only 1,815mm so much less of a problem than in many SUVs.

A wheelbase which is exactly 3m long assists in giving the vehicle a fighting chance at offering a comfortable ride. Don't expect to be cosseted though: there's a live rear axle and this has drum brakes at its extremes. Yes, it might be almost 2018, but it's still 1918 for some vehicles. Don't hate the Fullback - not every version of Britain's best selling model, the Fiesta, has disc rear brakes, and many one-tonne pick-ups have the same suspension and braking system designs.

It weighs only slightly less than 1,900kg and that's good news for stability. In short, the rear end is well tied down, especially if you order one of the optional canopies which the test truck was equipped with. This sits on top of the steel-walled load bay and lifts on gas struts, while the bottom-hinged tailgate drops to 90 degrees and its loading height isn't too lofty either. If you're placing things in there which must remain weather-proof it's worth knowing that a long drive for me in windy-rainy weather resulted in a lot of dust and small bits of debris being found later as stowaways. A simple sweep-out soon fixed that. The bed-liner is glossy plastic and has MOPAR branding in large letters.

Most of the test was done with snow and black ice on the roads so the 4x4 system really earned its stripes. This is easily activated. The default is rear-wheel drive which is one of four modes activated by a dial close to the handbrake. For slick bitumen and snow, flick the controller one notch to 4H, wait two seconds and a picture of a 4x4 system illuminates. This means drive is also directed to the front wheels and the Torsen central differential is activated. There is the further option of low range and mechanical locking of the rear diff for muddy fields and the like.

While the 196g/km CO2 number betrays the weight and frontal area, for the 150PS engine and manual gearbox, it's 180g/km. Economy is better than expected, at a Combined 37.7 and 40.7mpg. The test Fullback wasn't driven with a light foot and still it returned 36mpg. Forty would be easy enough to achieve if staying away from 70mph+ long drives is possible. On motorways it's a stable, not at all too-noisy companion and that might also be something which people unfamiliar with the best pick-ups won't realise.

It would be a big mistake to dismiss the roadholding and handling as likely to be sub-standard compared to cars.

Back in RWD, no load in the tray and with stability control on, not even throwing the Fullback around will get you into trouble. It can even induce laughs for the driver as long as conditions are safe. Which means making sure that you remember there is more than five metres of length and a high centre of gravity.

Yes the Fullback leans a lot. So too does a Discovery. Yet neither feels as though it's going to roll as long as you don't go too crazy. And that is also a good way to sum up the Fiat pick-up. Yes it's a tool for work, and/or a family car. At the same time, it would be a big mistake to dismiss the roadholding and handling as likely to be sub-standard compared to cars.

In the right conditions, the Fullback can lead to outbreaks of smilus maximus. Damp roundabouts with no other cars approaching from other directions being one of those conditions. Wide, rural roads being another. How about creating an Abarth Fullback, FCA? Why let Ford own the sub-sector that it will soon be dominating with the Ranger Raptor?

The Fullback range starts at GBP27,103. In as-tested form, the cost is GBP31,363.