By Ian Strachan
Pick-ups used to be workhorses, so that’s what you got. A tough, uncompromising package with little thought given to design, comfort and specification. It did a job, didn’t cost too much, and that would be it.
No more. A 21st century pick-up is a fashion statement. That means it has to look cool, be at least as comfortable as a car, and come with all the goodies you’d expect on an upmarket saloon. That’s where the Isuzu D-Max pick-up scores.
Imported by the International Motors Group, the Isuzu D-Max 1.9 Blade that I tested has a stylish crew cab body, impressive chunky roll-bars, a huge carpeted and covered load-space and a high specification. Its spacious interior is light and pleasant – a far cry from pick-ups of the past.
This D-Max is powered by a strong, if slightly agricultural, 1.9 litre diesel unit. It sounds tough and is tough – a growling 164 bhp engine with plenty of grunt if you need it for towing or off-roading. My test car married the engine to a six-speed automatic gearbox which resulted in a smooth and effortless ride.
Despite its size, the unladen D-Max can still return fuel economy figures of 36.2 miles to the gallon in mixed driving. That might not sound impressive, but this is a big vehicle with four wheel drive.
It handles pretty well, too. Suspension is soft, which means you’ll roll around corners a little, but straight-line handling is comfortable and steering is precise. Four-wheel drive and high range gearing can be engaged by turning a simple control.
There’s plenty of room for five people in this vehicle, with good headroom. The high specification also gives you alloy wheels, satellite navigation, leather upholstery, rear parking camera, cruise control, air conditioning, DAB radio, electric door mirrors and all round electric windows – all for £34,739 on the road including VAT and delivery.
You get all the safety features you’d expect on a car, plus the advantage of a high driving position. .
Isuzu pick-ups have been around for a long time, but this is undoubtedly the most refined and car-like to date. It sells in 130 countries worldwide and could easily take sales in the UK from more established competitors.
Public utilities, farmers and construction workers will find this a comfortable working vehicle, but it will also appeal to those who recognise the pick-up as the new cool vehicle to be seen in.