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The D-Max V-Cross double cab is the range-topper in the line up. Picture: SUPPLIED
The D-Max V-Cross double cab is the range-topper in the line up. Picture: SUPPLIED

The new D-Max has big shoes to fill as it continues a line of Isuzu one-tonne bakkies that has been manufactured in SA over the past 42 years.

Built at Isuzu’s Gqeberha plant in a R1.2bn investment, the D-Max (formerly the KB) is made for the domestic market and exported to 25 markets across Africa.

With its new styling, improved power and uprated safety and technology, the seventh-generation bakkie takes the fight to other locally-built one tonners like the Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger and Nissan Navara in a highly competitive segment. 

The 24 D-Max models comprise workhorses and leisure vehicles in single cab, extended cab and double cab variants priced from R401,700 to R814,700. There is a choice of two four-cylinder diesel engines: a new 1.9l and an upgraded 3.0l, and a choice of six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions. The bakkie is available in both 4x2 and 4x4 guises across all body styles, with five specification levels.

All versions have standard safety fare including ABS brakes, brake assist, electronic stability control, hill descent control, hill start assist and trailer sway control.

The range-topping V-Cross raises the safety stakes with an Intelligent Driver Assist System (IDAS) with forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, and a multi collision brake that automatically applies the brakes when the airbags are deployed — the latter brings the vehicle to a halt as quickly as possible after an initial collision, lessening the chances of secondary collisions.

The V-Cross has eight airbags, including one that provides head protection between front seat occupants.

Always a good workhorse, the Isuzu has matured into a more refined vehicle. The double cab has an impressively smooth ride, with none of the bone-jarring choppiness of the Mazda BT-50 with which the D-Max shares underpinnings.

The suspension comprises coil springs up front with rugged leaf springs at the rear, and is set up to provide a good combination of ride comfort and load-carrying capacity, says Dominic Rimmer, senior vice-president of technical operations at Isuzu Motors SA.

Top models get 9-inch infotainment screens and soft-touch dashboards. Picture: SUPPLIED
Top models get 9-inch infotainment screens and soft-touch dashboards. Picture: SUPPLIED

The double cab I drove at the Eastern Cape launch was the best at soaking up bumps, but even the much lighter extended cab version delivered a decent, not-too-jarring ride on rough gravel roads. Both models felt solid and robust, with no body flexing or rattles.

Along with more athletic new styling, the new D-Max is bigger and more spacious in all areas, other than the roofline which is 10mm lower than the previous model. Access to the cabins is made easier by longer front doors for single cab and extended cab models, and a new longer rear door for the family-oriented double cab.

A touchscreen infotainment system is offered in 7-inch or 9-inch sizes depending on model, and the higher-spec versions have a smart cabin with soft-touch materials.

A bugbear that Isuzu has fixed is that the steering column, formerly only height adjustable, is now reach adjustable too, making it easier for longer-legged drivers to find a comfortable position.

The previous D-Max trailed its rivals in power but the 3.0l engine’s hike from 130kW/380Nm to 140kW/450Nm has turned it into a more eager performer with easy cruising and overtaking ability.

The new entry-level 1.9l turbo diesel engine also has more hustle, boasting outputs of 110kW and 350Nm compared to the old 2.5’s 100kW/320Nm.

The 24 models include extended cabs (pictured), double cabs and single cabs. Picture: SUPPLIED
The 24 models include extended cabs (pictured), double cabs and single cabs. Picture: SUPPLIED

The five grades start with the standard guise which offers items such as an AM/FM radio with an integrated CD player and Bluetooth, manual air-conditioning, follow me home headlamps and dual front airbags.

The range-topping V-Cross has leather seats with eight-way power adjustment, the aforementioned Advanced Driver Assist System, and automatic high beam activation. It is also embellished with gun metallic finishes.

Pricing:

1.9 Ddi Single Cab HR — R401,700.00

1.9 Ddi Single Cab HR L — R421,000.00

1.9 Ddi Single Cab HR L A/T — R439,200.00

1.9 Ddi Single Cab 4x4 L — R506,200.00

1.9 Ddi Single Cab 4x4 L A/T RHD — R528,800.00

1.9 Ddi Extended Cab HR — R433,600

1.9 Ddi Extended Cab HR L — R448,500

1.9 Ddi Extended Cab HR LS — R477,000

1.9 Ddi Extended Cab HR LS A/T — R496,200

3.0 Ddi Extended Cab HR LSE A/T — R595,100

3.0 Ddi Extended Cab 4x4 LSE A/T — R670,300

1.9 Ddi Double Cab HR L — R498,900

1.9 Ddi Double Cab HR L A/T — R517,100

1.9 Ddi Double Cab HR LS — R520,800

1.9 Ddi Double Cab HR LS A/T — R537,500

1.9 Ddi Double Cab 4x4 L — R575,900

1.9 Ddi Double Cab 4x4 LS A/T RHD — R629,300

3.0 Ddi Double Cab HR LSE AT — R716,400

3.0 Ddi Double Cab 4x4 LS — R679,400

3.0 Ddi Double Cab 4x4 LS A/T — R697,200

3.0 Ddi Double Cab 4x4 LSE A/T — R771,100

3.0 Ddi Double Cab V-Cross HR A/T — R760,100

3.0 Ddi Double Cab V-Cross 4x4 A/T — R814,700

All models are sold with a five-year/120,000 km warranty and roadside assistance, and a five-year/90,000 km service plan, with service intervals scheduled every 15,000 km or annually.

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