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On-test: Downsized D-Max still impresses

Popular with farmers up and down the country, Isuzu has really made a name for itself in the pick-up world. But will smaller engines in its latest D-Max models be a turn-off? Dan Gilkes reports.

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Latest Isuzu D-Max takes downsizing to extremes with its 1.9-litre engine.

Need to know:

  • Model: Isuzu D-Max
  • Trim: Utility, Eiger, Yukon, Utah, Blade
  • Price: £15,749-£27,999 plus VAT
  • Engine: 1.9-litre, four-cylinder turbo diesel, 164hp @ 3,600rpm, 360Nm @ 2,000-2,500rpm
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual or six-speed automatic, shift-on-the-go 2/4wd with low range
  • Performance: 112mph, 36.2-45.6mpg combined, 163-205g/km
  • Payload: 1,091-1,282kg
  • Towing capacity: 3,500kg (2,500kg on 4x2 Single Cab)

Isuzu has updated its popular D-Max pick-up with a Euro 6 compliant engine, and while this latest version looks outwardly familiar with tweaks to the lights, bumpers and bonnet, it is all-new underneath.

 

In comes a 1.9-litre four-pot, ousting the trusty twin-turbo 2.5-litre engine. Yes, that is 1.9-litres in a full-size pick-up, and as the smallest capacity diesel engine in a pickup truck, it is something which has already caused some consternation with dealers.

 

However, the new motor produces a healthy 164hp though, thanks to a single, variable geometry turbo. But while power levels are similar to the previous truck, peak torque is down, from 400Nm to 360Nm.

 

Isuzu insists revisions to the gearbox - close-stacked shorter first and second gears - make it easier to pull away fully laden. Certainly it is possible to hill start with a two-tonnes payload on a trailer.

Payload has been boosted thanks to a lack of SCR and AdBlue paraphernalia.

While clever gearing helps to mask the lower torque figure, the 1.9-litre engine delivers a respectable performance. It is now slightly quieter, and the smaller engine is lighter too, boosting payload by 154kg in the 4x2 single cab model.

 

Even high specification double cab 4x4 models get an extra 26-34kg of load carrying ability. Perhaps more importantly, all 4x4 D-Max trucks can still pull a full 3.5-tonne trailer. Potentially of equal interest, the new 1.9-litre engine meets Euro 6 emissions without resorting to selective catalytic reduction. So there is no need for AdBlue, saving money and weight too.

 

You can choose between six-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmissions and D-Max retains its shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive system, with a low range for off-road use. All trim levels now come with Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control, making it easier to pull away and to tackle steep off-road climbs.

D-Max Blade gets plenty of specification, including a 9in touchscreen.

Isuzu continues to offer a single cab in 4x2 and 4x4 layouts, along with 4x4 versions of the extended cab and double cab. The firm also delivers the same trim range, of Utility, Eiger, Yukon, Utah and Blade, with the top three available in 4x4 Double Cab only.

 

Here, you will find 18in wheels, silver side steps, a 7in multi-function touchscreen, LED rear lights, cruise control and a rear load liner for the Yukon. Utah adds keyless entry and start, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite navigation, DAB, roof bars, leather trim with heated front seats and rear parking sensors. And the range-topping Blade comes with tinted windows, a 9in touchscreen, remote locking tailgate, front and rear sensors and a colour-coded canopy or roller cover with sports bar.

 

D-Max has a five-year/125,000 mile warranty, with service intervals set at two-years/12,000 miles. While most of the discussion between dealer and customer is likely to relate to that downsized engine, the good news is once you get behind the wheel, it becomes far less of a concern.

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