For over three decades, Isuzu has been a household name in Kenya, providing a deluxe range of power work-horses. From the hefty EXZ prime mover to the Isuzu TFR (now D-Max) pickup, earning its stripes as an enduring and durable brand.
With the dawn of the new century, stiff competition has been witnessed in the pickup truck segment, with notable brands such as Toyota, Nissan and Ford upping their game, as they have realised there’s much more to just building a basic utility truck…research has shown that a majority of buyers want their workhorses fitted with creature comforts only associated with fine passenger cars – thus a new era dawned for the pickup truck.
Nevertheless, Isuzu wasn’t left behind in this race, already having earned its reputation with its durable work-horse, they went further and designed the all new Isuzu D-Max pick up.
Faced with intense competition from the class leading Nissan Navara, to the no nonsense Ford ranger, the D-Max was designed to offer far more than the ordinary pickup truck.
Redesigned from the ground up, the new D-Max is the epitome of modern Japanese blueprints in calculating the modern ‘urban jungle’ lifestyle, while still retaining the intended purpose of an enduring workhorse.
The most notable revision is the sleek styling; the bumper, grill and headlamps give it a brand new face, with a more angular appearance.
In keeping with the macho theme, this pickup doesn’t sport a colour coded bumper and fender trim. The 15-inch alloys help maintain a butch image, while at the rear there is a full width step that doubles as a tow bar… Pretty impressive.
Gone are the bench seats and the pull-brake located beneath the steering wheel.
Upfront, the D-Max has two individual bucket seats with the hand brake placed in between, providing an atmosphere akin to a passenger car rather than a commercial vehicle.
With the driver’s seat height adjustable, coupled with a variable rake steering wheel, driving the D-Max becomes a pleasurable task especially during long trips.
The use of quirky plastics all over the fascia leaves something to be desired; but materials employed do come across as practical and tough, if devoid of style and perceived quality.
The well placed, easy to use instrument panel is hard to criticise, with the highlight being the purple lit fascia of the audio system which incorporates a cd/mp3 player, quite useful during long excursions. Surprisingly the air conditioning wafts out chilled air via the circular vents, placed at the middle and ends of the dash.
In the hood, an all new 2.5 litre D-TEQ engine powers the D-Max, boasting mountains of torque. Power output matches the previous generation’s 2.8litre unit (which produced 85kw and 280Nm).
This new engine incorporates the state -of -the -art common rail diesel injection system, that significantly provides more power due to precise injection times at higher fuel pressure, in tandem with a high capacity turbo charger, this utility truck produces 280Nm at 2000rpm’s.
Bury your right foot and you’re greeted with a sure response from this engine, although there is a little oomph below 2000rpm’s due to turbo lag, meaning one has to constantly row the 5 speed gearshift to keep the engine speed above the 2000 rpm mark.
In emulating the passenger car, Isuzu have stepped up in terms of providing adequate safety for the occupants of the D-Max. Dual air-bags are standard for the higher specked trucks, and the cabin is fitted with 3 point ELR seatbelts. The front ventilated discs and rear drum ABS based brakes provide maximum safety to prevent the inevitable from occurring.
Ride quality and handling is quite impressive, although the Yana tires make a vocal protest when you get a tad enthusiastic while pushing the D-Max over the limit. The ladder frame construction displays its characteristics when driving over large road imperfections.
The new D-Max represents Isuzu’s leap to the 21st century; loads of styling, impressive performance and rugged drive train all sum up the D-Max… which indeed stands for ‘maximum durability.’
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