FIRST DRIVE | 2018 Isuzu D-Max

Familiar Isuzu bakkie gets a new name and updated specs

05 November 2018 - 11:35 By Phuti Mpyane
A snarling facia elevates the vehicle’s already good looks.
A snarling facia elevates the vehicle’s already good looks.

Isuzu Motors SA has refreshed its pick-up range with new specification and it’s also renamed the bakkie from KB to D-Max in line with the global Isuzu brand.

The range has 30 models — of which 16 are single-cabs that make up 36% of sales, and now include the option of a dropside or flat-deck configuration.

Headlining the new styling interventions is a reworked radiator grille, which now takes the figure of chromed "fangs".

On high-end models, the bright works extend over the full length of new Bi-LED headlamps, creating an angrier overall look. Door handles, locking and air vent knobs are also covered in chrome. Daytime driving lights feature on the extended and double-cab models.

In LX grade, a new high-quality grain dashboard along with the instrument cluster binnacle and door trim have been resurfaced with softer materials. There’s an optional new high-mounted, nine-inch screen Alpine infotainment system that controls Bluetooth hands-free communications, a built-in navigation portal and a host of other digital features, including playback via USB, Aux, HDMI video and easy links to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The system also incorporates the display for the rear-view camera.

The Isuzu D-MAX range has added all-new automatic and manual six-speed gearboxes to better stoke the unchanged 3.0l four-cylinder intercooled turbodiesel engine. There’s discernible improvement in the shift action, and the six-speed auto integrates sequential change sport mode. This selectable auto gearing is helpful for towing and off-road driving, as specific engine speeds and gear ratios are required for varied tasks.

A larger digital display oversees interior functions.
A larger digital display oversees interior functions.

An electronically operated two-speed transmission with low range gearing combines with newer assistance systems such as hill descent control.

Driving the updated bakkies in 3.0TD double-cab form on an assortment of roads at this week’s media launch in Mpumalanga, the vehicles showed significant improvement in the driving department. The feel of the ride remains stiff — as expected of a workhorse — but Isuzu has improved NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) levels. The mechanical and agricultural noises of the engine are further kept away from the cabin, adding a touch of refinement to the experience.

The entire D-Max range gets ABS brakes and a brake override system as standard fitment. The latter system restricts accelerator input if the brake pedal is applied simultaneously, thereby reducing stopping distances in an emergency.

Further standard equipment is hill-start assist, hill-descent control, electronic stability control with traction control and trailer-sway control.

Hi-Rider and LE models can be specified with an optional tow-bar package for a braked trailer up to a maximum load of 2.1 tonnes, while 3.0l 4x4 LX derivatives are rated to haul 3.5 tonnes. Isuzu has also partnered with 4x4 Mega World to offer overland accessories.

The Dropside Base models are available in 2.5l LEED Base or Fleetside specification, and powered by the unchanged 2.5l turbodiesel engine with 58kW and 176Nm. There is also the option of the higher-spec 2.5l HO Fleetside Safety model utilising a higher-output 100kW and 320Nm turbodiesel.

Extended cab models remain and come in 2.5l Hi-Rider; two 3.0 LX models with a choice of either of the new transmissions, as well as a 3.0l 4x4 LX spec manual. A new 2.5l HO Base model aimed more for commercial purposes joins the double-cab range.

Isuzu’s standard Complete Care after-sales service is a five-year/120,000km warranty and roadside assistance. In addition, a five-year/90,000km service plan is included in the price, with service intervals scheduled every 15,000km or annually, whichever comes first.

Through Isuzu Mobility, customers have the option of extending the standard service plan up to six years or 200,000km, or the service plan can be upgraded to a full maintenance plan that covers planned and unplanned maintenance up to six years/ 200,000km.

X