Isuzu is a one-model manufacturer in the UK. With that being the case it’s in its interests for that one model to be either totally brilliant, or an absolute steal.
Enter the D-Max, which was crowned Pick Up of The Year at the WhatVan? Awards and Most Reliable Pickup by Professional Pickup & 4X4 magazine earlier this year.
With prices starting at just £16,499 (if it’s being bought as a commercial vehicle) the range is definitely competitive in terms of price and, like pretty much every other pick-up on the market right now, it nails the tough looks and bags of equipment combination that has helped make the class become so popular in recent years.
I recently tested the Blade Double Cab – the top spec model (barring the £38k Arctic Trucks AT35 tie-up) which comes in at £29,767, fully loaded with the only optional extras the paint (£280), the towing electric socket (£226.25) and the tow bar (£280).
When you factored in the options, the similarly specced Ford Ranger Wildtrak I drove recently was a full £9,000 more, albeit with a heaftier engine.
Under the sizable bonnet of the D-Max is a Euro 6 compliant 1.9-litre diesel putting out 162bp and 266lb/ft torque. It’s a noisy affair, betraying the D-Max’s utilitarian nature, not helped by being paired with a six-speed automatic transmission that simply will not be hurried.
Refinement isn’t the D-Max’s strong suit then, nor is its ride, which is on the bouncy side and borderline skittish at speed with an empty load bay thanks to its leaf-sprung suspension. It did settle down considerably with a full cab of passengers and some recycling centre-bound rubble in the 1485mm x1530mm x 465mm load bed. The rear-load liner – standard on the model tested – kept the racket from the cargo to a minimum as well, a welcome change from the last pick-up truck I did similar with.
I didn’t come close to it, but it will carry 1,101kg in the flatbed, which means it will qualify as a light commercial vehicle with room to spare – absolutely crucial in this market – and it can tow 3,500kg braked and 750kg unbraked with a gross train weight of 6,000kg.
As well as load-lugging ability, where the D-Max Blade comes into its own is equipment levels and styling touches.
Standard toys include a nine-inch colour touchscreen and satnav system (the camouflage screen background is so juvenile it’s brilliant), leather upholstery, parking sensors and reversing camera, an eight-speaker sound system, illuminated footwells and a little projector which shines the word ‘blade’ onto the pavement when you open the door.
The cabin is comfortable and put together with solid, if a little cheap-feeling plastics. The leather seats, with orange ‘blade’ embroidery are like big living room recliners and wasted on someone who’s going to get them covered with plaster and brickdust and paint flakes. The leather feels pretty thick though, so it should take a bit of a battering – or you could accessorise with the £45 waterproof seat covers just to be sure.
On the exterior you get roofbars, and a ‘styling bar’ around the load bay, bags of chrome all topped off with fogs, LED running lights and projector headlights. It’s not subtle, but it’s what buyers have come to expect at this end of the market and if you want subtle take your £29k and buy a grey Audi A4 instead.
On the safety side, you get ABS, electronic stability control, electronic brakeforce distribution and a brake assist system.
With favourable tax benefits for customers and businesses, there’s a growing market for pickups in Britain, and the D-Max Blade is a solid effort which can go toe to toe with competitors like the Ford Ranger and Mitsubishi L200 at an attractive price point.
Which is just as well – because it’s all Isuzu has.