FIRST DRIVE | The new 2020 Isuzu D-Max is all about added convenience
Extra two-pedal model derivatives for D-Max range make life even easier, writes Gugu Masuku
Over time the role of a pick-up – colloquially referred to as a “bakkie” in SA – has changed. Its place in the landscape evolved from being the workhorse used for hauling sand, rocks and whatever else needed moving, to becoming suited to the more leisure-focused demands of the average Joe’s lifestyle.
Joe now uses a bakkie as a daily driver, commuting to and from work, with the school run in between. During the weekend when he needs to enjoy some downtime, the same vehicle will gladly accommodate two mountain bikes and a kayak while comfortably fitting the entire family. In keeping up with the ever-changing times and to stay relevant, Isuzu made a small but important update to their D-Max: the addition of a five-speed automatic gearbox to its 250-series derivatives.
The pairing can be had in extended cab and double cab guises, in Hi-Ride, LE and X-Rider model grades. Meanwhile, the 300 engine choice in Hi-Ride, double cab specification has gained the option of a six-speed automatic.
Now let’s be honest, Joe would have a far better overall experience if he didn't have to shuffle through gears and work the clutch for two hours every day. We live in traffic-congested cities. The demand for a vehicle that removes the burden of manual labour has increased.
On the road the new transmission does its job with diligence, coupled to the proven 250 turbocharged-diesel motor. Its 2499cc displacement is good for 100kW and 320Nm. The pairing can only be had in 4x2 format, which, according to Isuzu, is a decision based on demand.
The brand’s short-term strategy is to appeal to a younger audience and that effort is evident in the X-Rider and X-Rider Black styling packages. Further to this, the company has invested R1.2bn into the development of the next-generation D-Max.
Having caught an early glimpse of the future product, it’s one that we think will lift the model’s appeal and give the competition something to mull over. A host of under-the-skin refinements are to be expected. If all goes accordingly, this new gladiator is set to roll off the local production line and onto showroom floors in the second half of 2021. For now, however, the greater accessibility of two-pedal convenience in the current range ought to help sustain interest and sales momentum.
D-Max 250 Extended cab Hi-Ride automatic: R403,200
D-Max 250 Double cab Hi-Ride automatic: R435,300
D-Max 250 Double cab LE automatic: R459,000
D-Max 300 Double cab Hi-Ride automatic: R464,100
D-Max 250 Double cab X-Rider automatic: R474,700