From Tokyo to Turin: Meet the Fiat Fullback

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If you think that Fiat’s new Fullback is familiar, you’re not wrong. Essentially speaking, it’s an Mitsubishi L200 with a bit of a nose job, a case of what’s known as badge engineering. It’s the first entry from Fiat in the mid-size pickup segment, going head to head with the likes of the Toyota Hilux or the Nissan Navara, as well as the aforementioned L200. I test drove the L200 last year and was really impressed with it, from its handling on the road to its comfort, so I expected great things from the hulking black Fiat that served as my test model for the week. It didn’t disappoint.

Two things in particular impressed me about the Fullback, not counting its muscular and flowing physique, which I found a little more appealing than the L200. Firstly the acres of space, both inside and out. It’s a big machine, with a wheelbase of 3 metres and an overall length of 5.3m. Inside there’s comfortable seating for four adults and a skinny teenager, though it could do with a few more cubbyholes for storage, while the glovebox is a little cramped. Headroom is in abundance – you’d need to be pushing 7 feet to feel claustrophobic. Secondly, the fuel economy. Combined driving (with a less than light foot) resulted in an impressive 41mpg (6.9L/100km), which is by no means terrible for a beast with a kerb weight of 1,860kg and propelled along by a 2.4L diesel engine producing 180hp. If you tend to drive fast and without regard to your fuel spend, expect somewhere in the region of 34.7mpg (9.1L/100km).

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Entering the electric era

The BMW i3
The BMW i3

There’s no doubt that we live in an age of motoring evolution, watching history unfold before our eyes. Hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs) were once the butt of many motoring columnists’ jokes, discarded as a waste of time or, at their worst, as something which threatened the joy of true motoring. In a way it’s an ironic viewpoint, considering that electric cars have been around almost as long as their counterparts which rely on miniature explosions for propulsion. But they’re steadily gaining a foothold in the modern era, thanks in part to government schemes, the interest of early adopters and increasingly efficient technology.

Decisions, Decisions

Increasing choice is also attracting more buyers across the globe, though uptake in Ireland remains slow, with somewhere in the region of 2,000 EVs sold here over the past few years. The Nissan Leaf and the Renault Zoe are both affordable, fully electric cars that are comfortable, easy to drive and don’t look like spaceships among their fossil fuel brethren (although the Mitsubishi i-Miev resembles a bug that has crashed into your windscreen at speed). BMW offers two luxury alternatives in the i3 and i8, while Mitsubishi’s plug-in hybrid Outlander melds off-road capabilities with more efficient motoring. At the top of the pile sits the Tesla Model S, a pioneer in the electric vehicle market, though it’s not on sale in Ireland just yet.

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The fun of winter driving

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Although Ireland’s winters are far milder than, say, Alaska, driving in icy and slushy conditions is no fun, and often quite dangerous. And, because we don’t spend too long each year in these sketchy conditions, many Irish drivers are not really sure how to prepare for a potentially treacherous stretch of road, or what to do if you find yourself spinning out of control.

That’s why Carzone (plug alert) has devised a winter driving guide full of tips, which we have amended slightly, to survive the snow, ice and rain. Of course the best way to survive would be to park up your car and take the bus, but where’s the fun in that?

Snow and ice

Pack a bag of supplies and leave it in your boot. That should include (deep breath) food, water, a set of warm clothing, a blanket, torch, first aid kit, fully charged phone (or one of those portable battery chargers), jump leads, a shovel, ice scraper, de-icing fluid and some sand or grit to give your tyres some traction if they get bogged down.

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