No match for Isuzu D-Max

13 November 2019

PERCHED at a precarious angle to the ground I took my foot off the brake and the clutch and allowed Isuzu’s D-Max XTR to inch me slowly downwards to the ground.

It felt like we were almost perpendicular as we descended the steepest of a network of roads at the Llechwedd flint quarry in Wales, our venue for testing out this latest version of Isuzu’s big workhorse.

Now the technology – Hill Descent coupled with low ratio four wheel drive - is not new but what was remarkable was how well it worked and with such a large vehicle.

The XTR is Isuzu’s gift to the lifestyle market, a section of the car-buying public that is increasingly turning its attention to pickup trucks. What is more, they do not want just any old pickup, they want one that is customised and bespoke for them.

They want a pickup just like the one I am driving with a double cab, extreme decals, plenty of interior plushness but that still boasts the capability that the Isuzu D-Max is famed for.

Enter the XTR.

It sits in what Isuzu now call their Adventure range, just above the Blade. It stands higher than the regular D-Max and in the spirit of looking different the manual has vibrant green touches, like the nose badge, the brake calipers and logos, while the automatic has them in black.

The company are expecting to sell a few hundred every year, well aware that the XTR will remain a niche car but what it does is gives them the opportunity to showcase just what they can do.

The extra ground clearance meant we could really shift along muddy, rutted roads and up gradients with loose and lively boulders. It fairly splashed through the water and the suspension and braking systems are upgraded.

Inside it is like a big comfortable car with XTR branding on the seats and beautiful contrasting stitching. It comes with heated front sports seats in suede, leather and carbonfibre leather with a D-shaped sports steering wheel.

The nav is easy to use and there are plenty of plug-in points for connectivity both back and front.

There are lovely design features like tinted windows and running boards which are very useful for short people like me. Those with longer legs and wider shoulders will appreciate the space inside.

The whole lot sits on 17ins alloys with Pirelli Scorpion tyres and there are a range of accessories like roof bars, sports bars and a Lazer light bar.

None of these design features, however, has been at the expense of capability. This truck proved its mettle time and again as we took it over some incredibly difficult terrain, at first steep and muddy and then with loose rocks below.  The underbelly is strengthened, the bonnet toughened and it has a payload of 1.1 tonnes.

It also has a top speed of 112mph and with and will get to 62mph in 12.7seconds although none of that matters when you are quite frankly climbing a sheer face with loose shale and rocks below.

The 1.9-litre diesel engine delivers 164PS and amazingly for a big boy of this size it will give you – in manual – 40.4mpg with 183g/km of emissions.

Isuzu have been making commercial vehicles for more than a century and their DNA is in the new XTR.

For years farmers have been privy to the tremendous ability of this car but now everyone else is going to take notice. It is a big smoothie on road in auto and an absolute champion off-road in the manual variant, even without a diff lock – which is coming next down the line.

It comes with a warranty of five years or 125,000 miles and costs £33,999



Model: Isuzu D-Max double cab XTR

Engine: 1.9-litre diesel AWD manual

Power: 164PS

Top speed: 112mph

0-62: 12.7 seconds

Average mpg: 40.4

CO2: 183g/km

Warranty: 5 years/125,000 mile

Payload: 1139kg

Price: £33,999