Isuzu D-Max X-Rider Black wears more make up for the urban jungle. Picture: SUPPLIED
Isuzu D-Max X-Rider Black wears more make up for the urban jungle. Picture: SUPPLIED

The colour black is trending in the automotive space right now and many car brands  are busy churning out Darth Vader inspired editions. Sometime during 2019 I witnessed in the metal, a car said to be painted in the blackest material of them all at BMW’s main Frankfurt Motor show stand.

The Vanta Black BMW X6 is, without a shadow of doubt, seriously black. The surface shimmers with perceptions of velvet, so black it is. In the meantime, meet the Blackest Isuzu D-Max of all.

Branded X-Rider Black, it’s a based on a regular X-Rider 250d — the initial limited edition model introduced with sportier touches when this range of bakkies was still known as KB.

With the X-Rider now a permanent feature in Isuzu’s catalogue, the time-limited Black arrives with even more special make-up for the urban jungle.

It’s exclusively sold with the 2.5l diesel engine in rear-wheel drive propulsion. The X-Rider Black’s significance is being painted exclusively in shiny black paint and featuring blacked out 18-inch alloy wheels, front bumper guard, matte black roof rails, black side steps and a black sports bar.

The black and red theme of the cabin matches the exterior vibe. Picture: SUPPLIED
The black and red theme of the cabin matches the exterior vibe. Picture: SUPPLIED

Surely, the agricultural honesty is replaced with an aggressive but soft urban core. Black robe aside, there’s still much to be said about Isuzu’s D-Max which ranks as the third best-selling double-cab bakkie range in SA after the Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux.

And because it’s a very competitive segment Ford‘s already replied with a newly announced chrome package for the Ranger 2.2 XLS. On the other hand Toyota’s competitor here is the Hilux 2.4GD-6 double cab SRX which wears basic khakhis while the model that’s closer to the aesthetic charms of the X-Rider Black is the far more expensive and better equipped Hilux GR Sport.

The Isuzu’s cabin with its equally black items and materials is mostly hospitable. The standard leather seats are manually operated though and there’s no keyless start or entry. But there is a neat 20.3cm touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth and red stitching and the "X-Rider" logo embroidered on the headrest of front seats and they do elevate the ambiance.

THE D-MAX RANKS AS THE THIRD BESTSELLING DOUBLE-CAB BAKKIE RANGE IN SA AFTER THE FORD RANGER AND TOYOTA HILUX

The drive experience of the X-Rider Black is typical with sufficient rather than demonic power from its 100kW and 320Nm four-cylinder turbo diesel that’s attached to a five-speed manual transmission.

Though tempting, it’s a bit unfair to compare its ancient technology to the superior ride quality of its newer peers. There’s a new D-Max on the horizon to reference from and in the existing version there’s still a tolerable middle-ground between its workhorse hardiness and ordinary living outlook that will appeal.

It doesn’t have the steroidal panache of its Arctic AT35 cousin that sits on 35-inch monster wheels but there’s enough of a head-turning style value in its blackness and knobbly rubber.

It’s also priced right and it can make financial sense as a good buy ahead of rivals or a conventional crossover or mid-size SUV in lieu of its manageable daily driving and load and passenger carrying practicality.

It’s still a bakkie despite the special touches so you can and must load it up. Picture: SUPPLIED
It’s still a bakkie despite the special touches so you can and must load it up. Picture: SUPPLIED

Tech Specs

Engine

Type: four-cylinder turbo diesel

Capacity: 2,499 cc

Power: 100kW

Torque: 320Nm

Transmission

Type: Five-speed manual

Drivetrain

Type: Rear wheel drive

Performance

Top speed: N/A

0-100km/h: N/A

Fuel Consumption: 7.7l/100km (claimed) 8.4l/100km (as tested)

Emissions: 192 g/km

Standard features

Air conditioning, tow bar, CD player, Bluetooth, alloy wheels, power steering, remote central locking, multi function steering wheel controls, daytime driving running lights, leather upholstery, ABS brakes, stability control, two airbags            

Cost of  ownership

Warranty: Five years/120,000km

Maintenance plan: Five years/90,000km

Price: R462,000

Lease*: R9,910 per month

* at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit

Isuzu X-Rider Black

WE LIKE: Looks, fair spec levels

WE DISLIKE: Underpowered compared to rivals

VERDICT: Lots of style, but not the fastest or most refined pickup out there

Competition

Toyota Hilux 2.4GD-6 double cab SRX, 110kW/400Nm — R454,700

Ford Ranger 2.2 XLS, 118kW/385Nm — R473,600

Motor News star rating

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