I always think I am very lucky to be able to drive so many new cars; others obviously think so too if the number of compliments is any way to judge. Recent admirers were for a truck, the Isuzu D-Max. The test D-Max was the XTR with navigation and priced at €47,302 (£42,720). It has proved hugely popular for its rugged good looks and multi people/load carrying capability and off-road potential. There are three ranges of the D-Max: Business, All purpose and Adventure with prices starting from €23,068 (£20,832) up to the top-of-the-range Arctic AT35 at €55,074 (£49,736).
Rugged coolness overflows, from a protective plastic body kit and big black alloys to bespoke trim inside and a thickly rimmed steering wheel that would serve a Ferrari well. Heated front seats, navigation and cruise are included too. There are five graphics variations available and my white test model had the full package, it genuinely did make it look like an automotive extra from a safari park.
Deliberately unsubtle looks and macho attitude pretty well sums up the reason this version of Isuzu’s D-Max exists. It’s out to tempt the owner who needs the toughness and load capability of a pick-up but wants it to look cool and have room for the family at the weekend.
There’s a practical nature beneath the XTR’s public face. Special suspension and huge all-terrain tyres make it superbly capable off road, combined with the standard D-Max’s transmission that easily switches from on-road two-wheel drive to mud-ready four-wheel-drive (4WD) at the twist of a cockpit dial.
You can have the four-door convenience of a D-Max double cab for a much less than the XTR, but the kids won’t reckon you very cool. The XTR, on the other hand, has school run appeal in spades and the ability to head to a remote work location deeply off road.
Eyes closed, you’d never think you were in a modern hatchback but after many days at the wheel the D-Max had grown on me enough to downplay the suspension bounce (and clunky gearchange and insistent engine growl) and admire its down-to-earth approach.
There are more solid reasons to like the D-Max if it’s your working vehicle, advantageous tax rates if you’re VAT registered, meaning benefit in kind doesn’t apply but a modest fixed tax rate does. An economy read out of 31.3mpg after a week’s work was pretty practical too.
Facts at a Glance
- Model: Isuzu D-Max XTR Nav
- Engine: 1.9-litre, 4-cylinder, turbo-diesel
- Gears: 6-speed manual
- Price: €47,302 (£42,720)
- Performance: 0-100 kmh (62 mph) 12.7 seconds/Maximum Speed 180 kmh (112 mph)
- Economy: 7.0l/100km (40.4 mpg) Combined driving
- Emissions: 183 g/km
Model tested was UK-specification and equipment levels and prices may vary in other markets.