Laid back: 2019 Isuzu D-Max 3.0

2019-06-26 06:01
PHOTO: quickpicThe 2019 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 double cab 4x4 LX automatic remains honest.

PHOTO: quickpicThe 2019 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 double cab 4x4 LX automatic remains honest.

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APART from the name change to D-Max, bringing South Africa’s KB into line with other markets, quite a few things have changed since 2017.

There have been some styling tweaks and LX versions now have six-speed gearboxes, keyless entry and starting, powered adjusters for the driver’s seat, Brake Override System (BOS - more later), LED headlamps, tail lights and running lamps and an upgraded infotainment system with eight-inch touch screen. A 9.1-inch setup with navigation is available optionally.

What has not changed is that the three-litre engine we get here still develops 380 Newton-metres of torque rather than 430 Nm like the Euro-4, Blue Power version used overseas. But that runs on 50-ppm, or cleaner, fuel and South African Isuzisti could be reluctant to change.

Of the 30 models on offer, 21 feature Electronic Stability Control, Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control. That means everything from the 250 HO Fleetside (Safety), single-cab, model upward.

BOS, an extension of ESC, restricts accelerator input when the brake pedal is applied, so reducing stopping distances under emergency conditions. We think it makes more sense in high performance vehicles than in working trucks of D-Max’s size and power output, although we drove a Mazda BT-50 with this feature in 2017.

Here’s a heads-up for those who taught themselves to use both feet when driving automatics: Unlearn quickly. Should your left foot graze the brake pedal, even lightly, any accelerator pressure will meet with a heart-stopping flat spot that could be dangerous in traffic.

On the plus side, the new ‘box incorporates downhill engine braking; like that on some high-performance cars we know. Swings and roundabouts.

It isn’t as if you really need quick transitions from braking to acceleration anyway; this is a pickup, not a Porsche. Speaking of performance, the new six-speed Aisin TB60-LS transmission is not designed for lighting up your tyres. Progress is leisurely; better attuned to a lifestyle measured in terms of milking times, mealtimes and tea breaks than in zero to 100 km/h sprints. Isuzu SA is one of eight local pickup vendors that no longer publish such plebeian information.

On the other hand, while accepting that speed and acceleration are of secondary importance, we do like to know whether the vehicle is a stone or not. We therefore spent hours combing the web to satisfy our curiosity. And learned that zero-to-100 km/h in the 3.0-litre, 4x4 Crew/Double/Dual cab takes between 10.6 and 20 seconds and its top speed is somewhere between 155 and 200 km/h. Short version: Internet information is unreliable. Car magazine clocked a manual version at 12.8 seconds and most bakkies are governed to about 175 km/h. You’ll get there by dinner time.

We took it along our local, quite-nasty trail simply because we enjoy doing so. It performed as well as ever then, because we could, we drove back down. That was easier. As expected, we found that downhill crawl works much the same as selecting first gear in low range and letting it “walk.” Which begs the question: “If you have full-house four-wheel drive already installed, why add another gadget?”

Things we like about Isuzu’s double-cab are that its bin can be locked, there is space for fully grown people in the rear compartment, it’s among the most comfortable on rough surfaces, it has a fair selection of fancy stuff but remains honest and it gets the job done, just as it has for the past 40 years.

Finally, Isuzu’s KB/D-Max remains South Africa’s third-best-selling pickup range despite offering no real price advantages. Buyers like to know they’re getting honesty.

THE NUMBERS:

Base price: R627 900

Engine: Isuzu 4JJ1-TC HO, 2999 cc, four-cylinder, common rail, direct injection turbodiesel

Power: 130 kW at 3600 rpm

Torque: 380 Nm between 1 800 and 2 800rpm

Acceleration and top speed: See text

Real life fuel consumption: About 10.5 l/100km

Tank: 80 litres

Payload: 945 kg

Maximum towing capacity (braked): 3 500kg

Ground clearance: 220 mm

Warranty: Five years/120 000km with roadside assistance.

Service plan: Five years/90 000km, at annual or 15 000km intervals.

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