Isuzu D-Max XTR

Isuzu D-Max XTR, front static 2
Isuzu D-Max XTR, front static
Isuzu D-Max XTR, side static
Isuzu D-Max XTR, rear static
Isuzu D-Max XTR, rear static 2
Isuzu D-Max XTR, dashboard

THE helpful chap at the council tip took quite a shine to the unmissable Isuzu D-Max on its fourth trip there in two days.

He loved its deliberately unsubtle looks - dripping macho attitude - while the driver (me) loved its capacity to clear a lock-up garage of 30 years detritus in a morning.

Which pretty well sums up the reason this version of Isuzu's D-Max exists. It's out to tempt the owner who needs the toughness and load capability of a pick-up but wants it to look cool and have room for the family at the weekend.

You can have the four-door convenience of a D-Max double cab for £13,000 less than the XTR you see here, but the kids won't reckon you very cool - or want to ride to school in it either.

The XTR, on the other hand, has school run appeal in spades. It will then take the family breadwinner to a remote work location deeply off road before returning to collect the little ones for their tea.

Coolness overflows with the XTR, from a protective plastic body kit and big black alloy wheels to bespoke trim inside and a thickly rimmed steering wheel that would serve a Ferrari well. Heated front seats are included too.

But there's a deeply practical nature beneath the XTR's public face. Special suspension and huge all-terrain tyres make this pick-up superbly capable off road, combined with the standard D-Max's transmission that easily switches from on-road two-wheel drive to mud-ready four-wheel-drive (4WD) at the twist of a cockpit dial.

Back on road, uprated front brake discs and ceramic brake pads help slow this big lump of metal, while that uprated suspension does its best to hide the bouncy ride that comes as standard with any pick-up.

Eyes closed, you'd never think you were in a modern hatchback but after many days at the wheel the D-Max had grown on me enough to downplay the suspension bounce (and clunky gearchange and insistent engine growl) and admire its down-to-earth approach.

There are more solid reasons to like the D-Max if it's your working vehicle, thanks to hugely advantageous tax rates if you're VAT registered, meaning benefit in kind doesn't apply but a modest fixed tax rate does.

Other practical benefits of the XTR version include tough side steps that smaller people will appreciate as they contemplate clambering aboard, where they'll enjoy looking down on lesser vehicles (like a Range Rover Evoque, for one).

An economy read out of 31.3mpg after a week's work was pretty practical too.

It's a very long vehicle (outstretching a Bentley Bentayga) but its huge load bed will carry more than a tonne of stuff (to the tip or elsewhere) and was protected on the test D-Max by a roller cover, part of an £1,857 pack with sports bar and roof rails.

FAST FACTS

Isuzu D-Max XTR

Price: £38,868

Mechanical: 162bhp, 1,989cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 112mph

0-62mph: 12.7 seconds

Combined MPG: 40.4

Insurance Group: 42

C02 emissions: 183g/km

Bik rating: 37%

Warranty: 5yrs/125,000 miles

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