Motoring and Property Editor
10:55 AM 2nd October 2017
Cutting Quite A Dash - Behind The Wheel Of The Isuzu D-Max Blade
Sales of pick-up trucks continue to rise. Renault and Mercedes-Benz are due to enter the market hoping for a slice of this burgeoning market.
Nissan, Toyota and Mitsubishi have all recently updated their offerings and there is a distinct move upmarket, targeting the leisure buyer. These vehicles drive better, look smarter and are a viable alternative to the family car.
Keen to keep its trusty D-Max at the top of its game, Isuzu introduced its latest D-Max earlier this year. The vast range begins with the humble workaday 'Utility' model priced from £15,749, whilst the range topping 'Blade', on test here, is priced from £26,999.
Rugged good looks are the order of the day, with subtle improvements here and there. LED daytime running lights and revised bumper, bonnet and grille aim to give the new D-Max a 'more masculine, sporty and powerful presence'.
The biggest change is under the bonnet. Gone is the old 2.5-litre diesel engine, replaced by an all new 1.9-litre motor. It boasts power and torque aplenty (164PS and 360Nm respectively) and meets Euro 6 standards. It also does this without need AdBlue to maintain low emissions, a definite boon. It is a little noisy when cold or when worked hard.
As per previous D-Max models, a Shift-On-The-Fly 4x4 system is fitted, the rotary dial allowing the driver to select four-wheel drive on the move. A set of low range gears is also fitted for extreme off-road work.
In the range-topping Blade trim you'll find a large 9-inch touchscreen, a leather interior, tinted windows and parking sensors. You can also choose either a colour-coded Aeroklas canopy or sports bar with roller cover.
My test Blade was fitted with the optional six-speed automatic gearbox. Apparently it adapts the gear changes to suit driving circumstances and is generally smooth in operation. It is certainly better than the somewhat notchy manual gearbox and is worth the extra £1,000.
The D-Max handles with confidence and ride comfort unladen is acceptable. Fit for purpose probably best describes it. Add a little weight over the back axle and things improve.
My local off-road test route is reasonably challenging, with steep ascents and descents, rocky trails and plenty of mud. The D-Max romped round the course with ease. Capable and confidence-inspiring sums it up nicely.
All D-Max models boast a raft of safety features to keep you on the straight and narrow. Of particular note is the Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) system which compensates for front and rear load differences during braking, preventing rear wheel lock up, apparently a pick-up affliction.
Many D-Max owners need to tow heavy trailers and with a 3.5-tonne capacity, even the biggest loads should not be a problem. The Blade made light work of pulling my twin-axle trailer loaded with a tonne of gravel.
Other than the slightly raucous engine (more sound deadening required please Isuzu), the D-Max continues to impress. Farmers, builders and the like will revel in the hardcore abilities that come as standard and for those yet to be convinced, Isuzu are offering 48 hour test drives for would-be buyers.
This is backed up by an advertising campaign with the strap line 'It just works'. And the D-Max should continue to work for many a good year and is backed by a comprehensive 5 years/125,000 warranty.
Isuzu D-Max Blade
Price £27,999 (CVOTR)
New 164PS 1.9-litre turbodiesel engine
Combined economy from 36.2mpg
Euro 6 emissions - 205g/km CO2
Payload - 1 tonne +
3.5 tonne towing capacity
5 years/125,000 mile warranty
12,000 mile/24 month service intervals