NICHE is nice. The specialist vehicle market is where the money is to be made if you have the right products selling at the right prices, like the Isuzu D-Max pick-up.
The D-Max range comprises single, extended and double-cab models using the same engine and with a choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmission. They come with four-wheel-drive except for the entry-level rear-wheel-drive version and there are essentially five trim levels.
Our Blade Double Cab Automatic sits towards the top of the 18-model lineup and its standard equipment is very high, rivaling an executive car in many respects.
Standard equipment includes LED lights, tinted glass, powered windows all round, Bluetooth and DAB radio with apps compatibility, touchscreen and sat nav, leather seats and a full suite of safety features and 18-inch wheels. So its not lacking in the equipment stakes.
The bigger body is a bit of a climb into and out of but it's very roomy and the seats are big and comfortable with reasonable adjustment on the front pair, and an adjustable steering column to tailor make journeys as relaxed as possible. There's plenty of oddments room as well.
Under the big bonnet there is a comparatively small sub-2.0-litre engine which works hard to perform and lets you know when heading towards maximum revs in the four-cylinders and it becomes boomy.
Matched to a smooth six-speed automatic-gearbox the performance is adequate but not head-turning but its overdrive higher ratios help it ease past 30mpg overall. Use the box and that figure will dramatically fall away.
We did not see any point in taking acceleration time as it would be slow by comparison with many vans, SUVs or cars but we did like the huge capacity loadbed even if it was a challenge to lift heavy items up onto the 90-deg tailgate and slide into the space.
There are tie-down points and there is a single handle release for the tailgate, which is convenient.
Inside the cabin you have fairly good visibility but its bonnet does hide things up close and the reversing camera and sensors really come into their own when parking. The lights were reasonably long sighted and the wipers did a good job clearing the screen.
Noise levels were generally confined to the engine at speed but there was a bit of road rumbling going on underneath.
The D-Max ride was naturally firm but not bouncy and it coped well with winding roads without making anyone feel sick.
My most annoying issue with the D-Max was a very big turning circle which made urban driving a challenge when it came to manoeuvering or parking but it was not an issue on open roads or in the country.
Secondary controls were straightforward and worked well, the instruments were clear and sensibly sized while the good-sized touchscreen was easy to read and use.
Brakes were well up to the required job and the parking brake securely held it on a slope.
With the pulling power of 360Nm from 2,000rpm it was good for towing and so long as you sensibly used the gears you could keep a good pace on open roads.