ISUZU has high hopes for its new D-Max, expecting to hit 10,000 sales a year by 2025.
Fiat and Mercedes have now left the UK's pick-up market and Nissan and Mitsubishi are soon to follow suit so there's a good chance that the company will achieve that early. The new and substantially improved D-Max is certain to help.
What's the story? There's some new styling, improved off-road and on-road performance, impressive safety technology and much-improved levels of comfort and refinement on higher spec models.
The model range now has three segments - Business, All-Purpose and Adventure.
Priced from £25,145 on-the-road (including VAT), the Business range features the entry-level Utility trim, offered in a choice of 4x2 or 4x4 in single, extended and double cab style.
Developed for workers, it comes with an easily-cleanable vinyl flooring and durable 16-inch steel wheels, while the bumpers, door mirrors and door handles are made from a hard-wearing black plastic - which makes them cheaper to replace.
Standard equipment includes automatic headlights with high-beam assist, automatic wipers, speed-sensitive power steering, and DAB radio. The steering wheel is also now height and reach adjustable across the range.
A new rear bumper has an integrated rear step which makes it easier to access the load area, and a tailgate damper is now standard on most models.
Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) are now standard on all models, including autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning and prevention. After driving at a fake wall, I can attest how well the emergency braking works.
And, for the first time in the pick-up segment, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitor and emergency lane keeping are fitted on all double cabs.
With the ADAS, and an even stronger chassis, it has become the first pick-up to achieve the maximum five-star rating in the latest Euro NCAP tests.
Priced from Â£31,145, the All-Purpose range consists of the DL20 and DL40, the ‘DL' signifying a rear diff-lock is added, the ‘20' and ‘40' demonstrating the model hierarchy.
All-Purpose models are also available - for an extra Â£1,800 - with a six-speed automatic transmission, which adds adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist. It's also been tweaked to make it smoother and quicker. Definitely worth having over the somewhat clunky six-speed manual.
The DL20 features heated front seats, rear parking sensors, front fog lights, body-coloured front and rear bumpers, a medium grey radiator grille and 18-inch alloy wheels.
DL40 adds Bi-LED headlights, LED front fog lights, daytime running lights, a chrome radiator grille, keyless entry, front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera.
The interior benefits from soft-touch panelling, dual-zone climate control, leather upholstery and a very comfortable eight-way adjustable driver's seat. The seven-inch multifunction colour touchscreen is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Topping the new model line-up- and expected to be the biggest-seller going forward - is the Adventure range's V-Cross, a replacement for the Blade. Priced from Â£37,445, it features Gun Metal exterior styling on the radiator grille, side steps, door mirrors and door handles, and a larger, nine-inch touchscreen.
Although the length of the new D-Max is slightly less than its predecessor, its wheelbase is 30mm longer which has allowed for a larger and more spacious cabin from which rear seat occupants benefit most. The B-Pillar is positioned 25mm further forward which means the rear door aperture has increased, allowing for easier access.
The new D-Max retains the punchy 1.9-litre turbodiesel engine introduced in 2017, which delivers 162bhp and an ample 360NM of torque. It completes the 0-62mph sprint in a leisurely 12.7 seconds, (13 for double cab auto) and can go onto a maximum of 112mph.
It officially returns 33.6mpg (30.7 for the double cab auto) and returns 220g/km of CO2 emissions (241 for the double cab auto).
It offers the same workhorse practicalities Isuzu customers have become accustomed to, with a one-tonne payload and up to 3.5 tonnes towing capacity. All 4x4 models are equipped with trailer sway control that uses sensors to detect the onset of trailer swing and reduces vehicle speed if sway is identified. Hill Descent Control is also standard on all variants.
The four-wheel drive shift- on-the-fly still has three configuration settings but a new actuator now provides much faster transfer between the different drives. And, while the D-Max has always been good off-road, the rear diff-lock makes it so much better. Even its wading depth is now a class-leading 800mm.
The previously mentioned speed-sensitive electronic power steering also means the D-Max is much better on the road. At lower speeds - where most working pick-ups spend most of their time - the steering is noticeably lighter, making it easier to manoeuvre in tight spaces. At higher speeds, it stiffens up nicely, helping stability and driveability.
Isuzu backs its faith in the vehicle with a 125,000 mile/five-year warranty, another bonus not to be sniffed at.