Isuzu cleans up with

new D-Max

Isuzu D-Max Blade, 2017, side, action
Isuzu D-Max Blade, 2017, front, action
Isuzu D-Max Blade, 2017, front
Isuzu D-Max Blade, 2017, side
Isuzu D-Max Blade, 2017, rear
Isuzu D-Max, 2017, towing
Isuzu D-Max Blade, 2017, wading
Isuzu D-Max Blade, 2017, engine
Isuzu D-Max Blade, 2017, interior
Isuzu D-Max Blade, 2017, dashboard
Isuzu D-Max Blade, 2017, rear seats
Isuzu D-Max Blade, 2017, upholstery
Isuzu D-Max Blade, 2017, running board
Isuzu D-Max Blade, 2017, head rest
Isuzu D-Max Blade, 2017, armrest

FARMERS know a thing or two about machinery so for the Isuzu D-Max to be their pick-up truck of choice speaks volumes.

Apparently the D-Max has become the spiritual successor to the legendary Land Rover Defender and that's some accolade.

In the agricultural community things have to work when the going gets tough and that's what the D-Max does best.

The same is true in the hunting, shooting and fishing fraternity and for those who need a good and proper workhorse in the urban world, such as builders and tradesmen.

Sales of the D-Max to farmers in the UK shot up by almost 60 per cent last year just as the Defender went out of production and this year Isuzu is targeting overall sales of almost 7,000 for its new-look truck that's about to break the mould in the pick-up sector.

Out goes the long serving 2.5-litre diesel engine and in comes an all-new 1.9-litre turbo that delivers just as much clout but is significantly more economical.

As such the D-Max becomes the only pick-up on the market with an engine below 2.0-litres in capacity and while that may raise a few eyebrows, Isuzu has come up with a few surprises.

Developing 164ps the new engine is actually more powerful than the venerable 2.5-litre block and while torque may be down from 400 to 360Nm the gear ratios have been shortened to compensate.

The result is plenty of power just when you want it and the new D-Max can still pull up to 3.5 tonnes and carry more than a tonne.

In fact the maximum payload is more than before - by more than 150kg on some versions and to put that into perspective the new D-Max can pack in some 400 facing bricks on to its load bed - enough to build a sizeable wall.

Prices are also competitive and the new D-Max has a starting point of £18,841 including VAT (£15,749 without) topping out at £32,341 for the high specification Blade model which comes with car-like mod cons such as a nine-inch touchscreen, reversing camera and parking sensors, leather upholstery and illuminated door sills plus puddle lamps in the door mirrors which project the Blade logo on to the ground.

New equipment includes hill descent control and a hill-hold device to keep the vehicle in check when moving off on slopes while the D-Max retains its ability to shift from two to four-wheel-drive on the move.

In 4x4 guise - the entry level vehicle is two-wheel-drive - it costs from £21,541 and is a full-blown off-roader with low ratio gears available to give plenty of grip.

Putting the new D-Max through its paces on and off the road showed it to be an impressive performer and much improved.

Noise levels inside the cab have been reduced but it still sounds very workmanlike under acceleration either as a six-speed manual or with a six-speed auto box which is available on all but the basic Utility specification D-Max.

In a top grade Blade Double Cab auto - priced from £33,541 - we saw an average of 35.2mpg against an official fuel return of 36.2, an impressive performance and better than that of the manual version in which we managed 32.8mpg over a similar route.

The manual model, in 4x4 Double Cab style, is rated at 40.4mpg with emissions of 183g/km and that's an improvement of almost five per cent compared to the previous D-Max.

The greatest boost on the economy front is from the 4x2 D-Max which is now rated at 45.6mpg (163g/km), up from 37.2 to the gallon. Emissions for the automatic are 205g/km.

In the current pick-up market - where the likes of the Ford Ranger, Nissan Navara and Mitsubishi L200 are alternatives - the D-Max now has very good credentials in terms of running costs.

A bonus is the engine does not need the AdBlue additive to achieve the latest emissions standards and with a body weight of less than 2,040kg the D-Max is not penalised by reduced speed regulations which can impact on some of the larger trucks.

Off road, the new D-Max is very capable over rough terrain - and through water - and when it comes to pulling power it managed to lug two bales of hay plus a trailer carrying another D-Max (total weight in excess of three tonnes) without issue.

Top speed is as before at 112mph and the new engine is slightly quicker 0 to 60 at 12.7 seconds. Of the two transmissions the auto version was the most accommodating, even off-road.

As well as being covered by Isuzu's five year/125,000 mile warranty the new D-Max range now comes with five years roadside assistance including recovery in Europe for added peace of mind.

The D-Max has always looked the part in the truck world and for the new one Isuzu has given the vehicle some added presence especially at the front with a new look bumper, grille and bonnet while LED running lights are standard and the headlights now have projector lenses. It is also fitted with a proper spare wheel, not a space saver or repair kit.

On the inside the door mirrors are now electrically adjustable, there are steering wheel mounted controls for the audio and cruise control and on higher grade versions the trip computer can be operated via buttons on the end of either stalk.

The five trim levels from the previous line up - Utility, Eiger, Yukon, Utah and Blade - are carried forward and on the Double Cab models we tried the cabin is clean cut, functional and comfortable.

Sat nav is standard on the top two models and the Blade versions now come with heated front seats, soft pad armrests, keyless entry and remote locking all round, including the upper tailgate as well as the posh interior - and even farmers like a bit of bling.

And for any doubters who may think a 1.9-litre engine can't pass muster in the heavy duty world, Isuzu is launching the new D-Max with the opportunity of a 48 hour free trial of the new model from any of its UK dealers - and all demonstrators will come fitted with towing gear so they can be tried out to the full. Those taking the opportunity will not be disappointed.


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