By Mike Torpey on 2020-10-31 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Isuzu D-Max XTR 1.9
Double Cab Auto
THE enjoyment of that heightened view of the world from the cabin of a pick-up truck certainly wasn't lost on the 91-year-old peering gleefully from the front passenger seat.
Nor from the onlookers who wondered how she got up there in the first place.
Okay, you need to be a bit agile, but once you have a foot on the side steps and a hand on the grab handle it's a simple exercise to swivel into the seat.
For anyone who's ever travelled in an Isuzu D-Max, that's when the fun really starts because this is a real gentle giant of a vehicle.
The name Isuzu may not be familiar to most, but that's not the case in the Far East where more than 22 million diesel engines have been built by the Japanese brand, supplying companies like Renault-Nissan and General Motors.
The D-Max is Isuzu's signature model line-up, ranging from single-cab to extended and double-cab versions and with two or four-wheel drive - all boasting strong fuel economy combined with a 3.5-tonne towing capacity, one tonne payload and five-year/125,000-mile warranty.
And as pick-ups continue to appeal as a fashion choice as much as a traditional workhorse, our tested D-Max XTR clearly lives up to its maker's description of ‘capable in the extreme'.
Let's start with the styling. The XTR has been developed for drivers who want a vehicle to complement their lifestyle, so it comes with a sophisticated body kit and aggressive design.
That means an imposing front bumper guard, bonnet protector and headlight frames, pronounced wheel arch extensions and rear spoiler all coated in a black Raptor finish.
And flashes of green appear everywhere too - from the springs and ceramic brakes to the bold Isuzu bonnet badge and XTR logo embossed on the front seats, which also get green stitching.
As a double cab variant there's also ample space for five, in durable black leather seating, while the load bay - in this case with a lockable Mountain Top Roll cover - is substantial.
A premium eight-speaker sound system, heated seats, touchscreen sat-nav and reversing camera are also part of the package.
If you want to tackle challenging environments then this is also the model for you.
It has a bespoke suspension and brake set-up, engineered by British specialist Pedders, giving the XTR a 250mm ground clearance, while a glance at the 17-inch black alloy wheels with their Pirelli Scorpion All Terrain Plus tyres tell you this is a vehicle that means business.
The inclusion of selectable four-wheel drive with a locking central differential plus important off-road features like hill descent control add to a vehicle capable of conquering the harshest conditions.
Of course there's always the danger that on-road performance may be compromised, and thankfully that's not the case.
Yes the engine is noisy and feels a bit agricultural; acceleration is also slow. But the 164bhp diesel unit is anything but ponderous at speed and can keep the D-Max cruising comfortably at the motorway speed limit.
Ride quality is pretty smooth given the type of vehicle this is, while body control is also acceptable.
Isuzu D-Max XTR 1.9 Double Cab Auto
Mechanical: 164ps, 1,898cc 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 6-speed automatic gearbox
Max Speed:12.7 seconds
Combined MPG: 36.2
Insurance Group: 40
C02 emissions: 205g/km
Bik rating: 37%
Warranty: 5yrs/125,000 miles
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