Lifestyle to the Max

Isuzu D-Max XTR

By Bill McCarthy

CAR or commercial, lifestyle or workhorse? Those are the questions that could be asked about Isuzu’s impossibly stylish pick-up.

With car-like comfort, surprising economy and an attractive purchase price when you take into account standard equipment, it’s no surprise that many now choose this type of vehicle to double up as the family transport.

Thanks to its 3.5t towing capacity, shift-on-the-fly 4WD system and one-tonne-plus payload, the Isuzu D-Max XTR now offers even more to Isuzu’s loyal and growing customer base.

The firm reckons the D Max range offers ‘go anywhere, do anything’ qualities and it comes in many guises from single or double cab, straight flat bed or with an option to fully enclose the payload area.

But the double cab is surely the most appealing of this dual purpose vehicle with its five seat arrangement and comfort to match most family saloons. It’s also now challenging the flashier SUVs in the coolness at the school gates appeal. A vehicle that begs to be gawped at.

 Clearly its workhorse credentials are self evident. But addressing practical problems such as boot capacity for family items such as shopping and household goods, while still transporting the odd few bags of concrete has been addressed in an ingenious manner on this version, with a series of sliding, lockable metal boxes under the payload floor.

With the 125,000 mile/five-year warranty it is quite a tempting package. It doesn’t half look the part as well

One runs the length of the flatbed, while the other two have various compartments, ideal for storing small tools or even items of shopping. You can still then add a couple of bags of concrete above on the flatbed, which can then be concealed with the optional rolling cover or left open to the elements, depending on what you’re carrying.

It looks the part all right on huge alloys with 17-inch six-spoke alloys in satin black shod with specialist Pirelli Scorpion All-Terrain Plus tyres, designed for off-road, but more than capable of delivering a reasonably comfortable ride on-road, imposing grille and foglights and side running boards to help you haul yourself into the cab.

Green colour coding has been incorporated into the front coil springs and dampers, front brake caliper, rear anti-roll bar and rear dampers, giving the kind of presence more associated with premium vehicles.

The interior is pretty upmarket for the type of vehicle, with powered, leather seats with contrasting green stitching. The  XTR logo is embroidered on the backrest of each front seat and is repeated on the rear centre headrest.

The double cab means five are carried in reasonable comfort, although rear carrying capacity is obviously reduced. In pure workhorse terms, a single cab could offer more carrying capability.

Creature comforts including air con, electric windows, central information screen controlling navigation, connectivity and sound and with the option of Apple and Android phone connectivity. Also included is a raft of safety kit and, importantly for such a long vehicle, rear camera.

The vehicle is powered by a 1.9 litre diesel engine, with auto transmission and on-the-fly capability of selecting four wheel drive with a dial on the central console.

 The firm says it is built to endure the harshest conditions, with a 250mm ground clearance and no compromise on vehicle handling and stability.

The brakes too have been uprated with Kevlar ceramic front brake pads working in combination with the discs to give a much improved stopping power.

The modified Pedders suspension means it can cope with extreme terrains, but does not make you feel seasick when on flat roads. Although you cannot escape some wallow on corners, it is surprisingly agile for such a big beast. 

On the road, the diesel has plenty of power if not a great deal of refinement. The 162bhp is more than capable of delivering the grunt needed for serious off-road work, while at the same time offering enough pace on road to more than cope with both general and motorway driving. The initial diesel clatter does eventually die down, while the auto shift was nowhere near as hesitant as some I have driven. Economy was surprisingly good with a claimed 36-odd mpg seeming pretty much near the mark.

It’s not cheap at a price approaching £44k inclusive of VAT, but there are clear fiscal benefits with this type of vehicle with a fixed tax rate. In addition there is the 125,000 mile/five-year warranty and five-year roadside assistance to offer quite a tempting package.

It doesn’t half look the part as well.


D-Max XTR Nav+ Double Cab Auto

Price: £36,694+VAT

Mechanical: 162bhp, 1,989cc, four-cylinder diesel engine driving four wheels via auto gearbox

Max speed: 112mph

0-62mph: 12.7 seconds

Combined mpg: 36.2

Insurance group: 42

CO2 emissions: 205g/km

Warranty: 5yrs/125,000 miles

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