The new D-Max, which made its global debut late last year, comes with a major restyle and modern technology. Picture: SUPPLIED
The new D-Max, which made its global debut late last year, comes with a major restyle and  modern technology. Picture: SUPPLIED

The Covid-19 pandemic has delayed the local introduction of the next-generation Isuzu D-Max bakkie from late next year to early 2022, says Isuzu Motors SA.

Speaking at a virtual media briefing this week Dominic Rimmer, Senior Vice-President Technical Operations, said that work is under way on the engineering and testing of the vehicle, which will be manufactured at Isuzu’s assembly plant in Port Elizabeth.

This will be the seventh generation of the one-tonner, which was previously known as the KB, and Rimmer said the local version will have some uniquely South African features and characteristics.

“This next generation D-Max is a significant step forward for Isuzu in all respects. It offers state of the art technology to enhance the driving experience, efficiency and safety,” said Rimmer.

He added that significant local development work is being carried out to ensure the D-Max is reliable and durable enough to cope with SA’s challenging environment. This includes testing the load box which in the current bakkie has significantly thicker steel in strategic areas such as the load box inner panels, load box front panel and tailgate.

Other areas receiving attention include dust sealing, suspension tuning and producing local dampers, development of all-terrain tyres, rear differential lock and axles, wiring harnesses, and accessories such as canopies, roll bars and nudge bars.

The seventh-generation D-Max adopts a more upmarket interior and the latest infotainment. Picture: SUPPLIED
The seventh-generation D-Max adopts a more upmarket interior and the latest infotainment. Picture: SUPPLIED

The new D-Max, which made its global debut late last year in Thailand, will replace the sixth-generation bakkie that’s been around since 2013. It comes with a major restyle, modernised technology and a safety upgrade which saw it score a maximum five-star rating in the recent ASEAN NCAP crash test.

It’s equipped with up to six airbags and comes with driver-assist features like blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert

An updated infotainment system has Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and can be operated via voice control. The cabin has received an enhanced look and feel and the bakkie runs more silently with improvements to noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) and a 20% improvement in body rigidity.

A new four-cylinder 3.0l turbo diesel engine bumps up outputs from the existing 130kW and 380Nm to a more spirited 140kW and 450Nm. There is also a 1.9l turbo diesel offered overseas but Isuzu hasn’t confirmed whether this version will be coming to SA.

Other improvements to Isuzu’s new-generation D-Max include an electromagnetic rear differential lock and a slicker-shifting four-wheel drive system in the 4x4 models.

In the meantime Isuzu Motors SA is keeping the sixth-generation model alive with cosmetic tweaks and the introduction of new derivatives, including a 3.0l version of the Double Cab X-Rider.

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