The bakkie to rival all bakkies: Isuzu fires warning-shot with its GO2 D-Max


Despite the demand for Ranger Raptor and Toyota's Land Cruiser Namib, not all special edition bakkies have been a success in South Africa. 

Isuzu has experienced soft demand for its Arctic AT 35. Perhaps local gravel road conditions and off-road trails aren't suited to the enormous flotation properties of those oversized tyres. 

The D-Max remains a quality bakkie, and tough with good ride quality.

Imagine if there was a special edition of Isuzu's bakkie, which was less OTT and more functional than an Arctic AT 35? Enter the D-Max GO2. 

Beyond its very clever naming convention, this Isuzu bakkie has an appropriate off-road specification, which makes a great deal more sense than the brand's Arctic version.  

Isuzu GO2 D-Max

Isuzu GO2 D-Max. Image: NewsPress

Better bits front and rear

The most striking component upgrades of Isuzu's GO2 are at either end. Oversized steel bumpers replace the factory plastic items and have two functions. 

Firstly, they increased the front approach and rear departure angles for superior obstacle clearance in testing off-road conditions. The other benefit is providing a sturdy structure for recoveries: with GO2's front bumper housing a 4t-specification winch. 

There is a debit to the new rear bumper, as the bakkie's rear park-distance control function is sacrificed, although Isuzu's GO2 does retain its reversing camera function. 

WATCH: Ranger Raptor, Hilux GR Sport, Arctic AT35 go off-road

Boosting the D-Max platform's off-road ability is a TrakRyder eXtreme suspension upgrade. Engineered by Australian specialist, Pedders, it features adjustable coil-overs with an inverted monotube design, to reduce friction and improve small-bump suspension performance. 

The GO2's Pedders suspension system adds additional oil volume, via remote canisters for each damper. These oil reservoirs ensure that no matter how rough the terrain becomes, your modified D-Max GO2 will always be consistent in its rock-crawling performance. 

Aware of the terrain where its GO2 might venture, Isuzu has guaranteed that this bakkie's vulnerable underbody casings are protected. There is a rear differential guard and kink-shaped front sump guard, to keep all the fluids inside your drive and engine components, even if the GO2 does scrape terrain. 

Isuzu GO2 D-Max

Isuzu GO2 D-Max. Image: NewsPress

Of course, it has a snorkel!

Atop the Isuzu D-Max GO2 is a roof-mounted LED light bar, which is particularly useful for navigating tricky off-road terrain at night. A Safari snorkel boosts wading depth, but its more significant benefit is channelling cooler, filtered air into the engine. When you are travelling through a dusty rural environment, the difference in air temperature and filtration quality at snorkel height, as opposed to your radiator intake, can differ quite considerably.   

Rolling the D-Max GO2 along are relatively small 16-inch alloy wheels, shod with high-volume 33-inch General Grabber X3 mud-terrain tyres. Although Isuzu's D-Max double-cab 4x4s are ordinarily equipped with 18-inch wheels, the G02 downsizes to account for a notable increase in tyre size, with those Grabber X3s, which offer improved traction off-road. 

READ: First Drive in the Isuzu D-Max 250 auto

Completing Isuzu's GO2 upgrade of its D-Max bakkie platform is an aftermarket brake system. It features ventilated discs with ceramic pads at the front wheels, mitigating the higher heat build-up under braking, due to the rolling momentum of those heavier tyres. At the rear, there is a combination disc and drum system, with the latter functioning under handbrake actuation. 

Powering the GO2 is Isuzu's 1.9-litre turbodiesel engine, producing 120kW and 360Nm. Although global marketing plans are unclear, the D-Max GO2 concept vehicle has great potential.

Isuzu GO2 D-Max
Isuzu GO2 D-Max. Image: NewsPress
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