Isuzu Motors South Africa (Isuzu) has refreshed its bakkie range, giving it a new name along with higher levels of specification, quality and efficiency to make its popular light commercial vehicle (LCV) more appealing than ever.
Over the past 40 years of local production spanning six generations, the Isuzu bakkie has been a key player in creating and fostering South Africa’s love affair with the versatile bakkie – both as a workhorse and, increasingly, as an all-encompassing everyday leisure and lifestyle vehicle.
Now known as the Isuzu D-MAX, in line with international markets, the Isuzu bakkie range spans an extensive portfolio comprising of 30 models for South Africa and 13 models for export markets, with the top-spec derivatives gaining a more luxurious execution that reflects the more sophisticated requirements of top-end buyers in this segment.
The D-MAX name originated in Thailand, with the ‘D’ originally referring to the 2000 model year Isuzu bakkie which boasted the flush “Dragon Eyes” headlamp design. It also represents Isuzu’s proud legacy in the production of diesel engines, the use of industry-defining direct injection, as well as ground-breaking design and durability. ‘Max’ signifies Isuzu’s maximum approach to design, size, comfort, technology, performance, safety, durability and line-up.
“We are proud to announce the introduction of the enhanced Isuzu bakkie along with the adoption of the D-MAX name for the Isuzu bakkie portfolio, this aligns us to the brand identity of the broader company and ensures that our product naming conventions are consistent with the global approach.” says Craig Uren, Executive Officer Sales, Service and Marketing.
The line-up has been revised and enhanced to make the D-MAX more appealing and competitive than ever, and the high-spec models raise the bar for Isuzu in terms of luxury and quality.
“We are also delighted to introduce the all-new six-speed manual and automatic transmissions on the 3.0-Litre LX models that improve overall performance, efficiency and refinement when compared to the previous five-speed units, while building on Isuzu’s proven reputation for reliability and durability,” says Dominic Rimmer, Executive Technical Services.
Exclusive and upmarket LX range
Visually, the biggest styling changes for the refreshed Isuzu D-MAX make their debut on the range-topping 3.0-Litre LX models, available in single, extended and double cab body styles. Central to the new look is a muscular new chromed radiator grille that dominates the front facia, along with new tapered chromed accents extending across the full length of the sleeker L-shaped headlight clusters.
In combination with the new projector-type Bi-LED headlamps and LED daytime running lights introduced on the extended and double cab models, there are restyled foglamp bezels framed by chromed vertical accents that give the LX a distinctive and aggressive character.
Climb into the cabin and the more upmarket look and feel of the LX models becomes immediately apparent, courtesy of the new soft-touch panels for the instrument cluster binnacle. The utility box lid is now embellished with the ‘Isuzu D-MAX logo’, this is complemented by a new, more attractive high-quality grain for the dashboard and door trims, along with a piano black finish on the air vent grilles and window switches. In contrast, the door handles, locking knob, and air vent knobs are picked out in chrome.
The occupants also benefit from the fitment of the latest-generation infotainment system, incorporating an eight-inch full colour touch screen that replaces the 6.5-inch version used in the previous model. The fully featured system incorporates the display for the rear-view camera, and facilitates Bluetooth hands-free cellphone use and audio streaming.
Isuzu customers are also now able to select as an option, the all-new premium Alpine infotainment system that first debuted on the Isuzu mu-X sport utility vehicle (SUV). The Alpine infotainment system boasts a high-mounted nine-inch screen that is Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB) ready, and additionally provides access to built-in navigation, as well as USB, Aux and HDMI video inputs. Passengers will undoubtedly appreciate the new USB ports which have a higher 2.1A rating (up from 1A) to charge smartphones and multimedia devices. It also links Apple CarPlay® and Android™ Auto, once it is made available in South Africa. This allows phone functions and apps to be accessed on the display, or via a paired smartphone’s voice recognition software.
All-new six-speed transmissions
One of the most significant new features of the 2018 Isuzu D-MAX range is the introduction of an all-new six-speed gearbox on the high-spec 3.0-Litre LX derivatives, replacing the five-speed versions used on the outgoing models.
The six-speed manual benefits from optimised gear ratios and an improved shift action, and makes the most of the strong torque delivery and superb fuel economy of Isuzu’s dependable 3.0-Litre four-cylinder intercooled turbodiesel engine, which produces 130 kW of power and 380 Nm of torque.
For fans of smooth-shifting automatics, the D-MAX offers the same six-speed transmission that recently debuted in the Isuzu mu-X SUV. This sophisticated gearbox delivers the ideal combination between refinement and responsive performance.
The six-speed automatic incorporates a sequential sport mode that enables the driver to select a specific gear manually, which is helpful when towing as the engine speed can be maintained in the ideal torque range for maximum pulling power.
This mode is also ideally suited to off-road driving, allowing the driver to engage the appropriate gear ratio for the specific terrain. Combined with Hill Descent Control (HDC), manually selecting the lowest gear on downhills ensures optimal control of the vehicle as it maintains the vehicle at the set speed on steep descents.
Enhanced driving safety
On the safety front, the ABS brakes on all D-MAX LX models are now equipped with Isuzu’s Brake Override System (BOS) for the first time. The system restricts accelerator input if the brake pedal is applied simultaneously, thereby reducing stopping distances in an emergency.
The standard Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with Traction Control has also been bolstered with the addition of Trailer Sway Control (TSC) that detects and minimises the effect of a trailer or caravan beginning to sway from side-to-side. The Hi-Rider and LE models can be equipped with an optional towbar package rated to tow a braked trailer up to a maximum load of 2.1 tons, while the standard heavy-duty unit on the 3.0-Litre 4X4 LX derivatives comes standard and is capable of hauling 3.5 tons.
As before, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Hill Start Assist (HSA) and Hill Descent Control (HDC) are included to assist the driver in all types of driving situations. These active safety features are available as a standard feature from the Fleetside Safety to the LX trim.