On the Road: The new Isuzu D-Max
On the Road: The new Isuzu D-Max

Ian Lamming challenges allcomers in Isuzu’s new-look D-Max

NARROW roads, don’t you just love them. They say so much about the characters of the people you come across head-on.

Mostly they are panicked and react in strange ways, which can involve reversing hurriedly, without looking, into a drystone wall.

Then there’s the bearded demographic (men and women) which are just plain curmudgeonly. They just stare without blinking, with a grim look on their face, waiting for you to engage reverse. They tend to be retired and have all the time in the world not to backdown, so you do.

Finally, there are the young and foolish who drive round bends too quickly, oblivious to the consequences. They tend to hit those same drystone walls but head-on this time.

Today, it’s a clash of the Titans. Isuzu D-Max versus Isuzu D-Max; it’s like staring in the mirror. It’s going to be like a cage fight, surely. Except it’s not as we both nod, take to the ruts on the side of the asphalt and pass by with a friendly wave and a knowing smile.

The knowing smile is because we both appreciate the lack of drama. I’m sure as a regular of these roads he will have come across exactly the same motorist types as I have and understands perfectly the fuss-free nature that comes with driving the stalwart Isuzu.

If I had to have just one type of car in my life it would be a pick-up and the Isuzu would be top of the list.

It is great value for money, hugely capable and great to drive. Being a workhorse it is hidden in plain sight which means you can leave it anywhere and everyone leaves you alone. In the country the assumption is that you are farming or forestry and because it has go-anywhere abilities, you can drive it virtually anywhere and leave it – no extortionate car park fees for me.

Generally, people do tend to steer clear of you and your leviathan proportions, which also suits me, and absolutely no one tries to bully you off the road as they do with certain brands and small vehicles. In a pick-up you tend to be king of the road even compared to large expensive SUVs who wouldn’t dare take you on in a dog fight.

But while it’s undoubtedly a tough cookie, D-Max also has a softer side. There’s a raft of creature comforts, which includes leather cabin, automatic gearbox, cruise control, touchscreen infotainment, heated seats, in fact everything a normal soft roader would possess but with the added value of genuine off-road ability.

D-Max runs in rear wheel drive for on-road economy, with surprising results as I manage regularly to eek 37+ miles per gallon out of each gallon of diesel from the 1.9 litre oil burner. But if traction becomes more challenging then you can switch to four-wheel-drive high or low and there’s a diff-lock too when things become unfathomably difficult. That boosts driver confidence off the scale.

The cabin is spacious and comfortable making the Isuzu at home in towns and on the motorways, while the handling is excellent too for twisty country roads. It drives very much like a car not a truck.

All that said, I do have one complaint. For ages my partner has been looking for a sun lounger for the garden. Of course, I’ve managed to divert her attention by using the fact very few cars would be able to accommodate such a large unwieldy piece of furniture. Then she spots one on sale at the same time as we have the D-Max and it easily drops in the back. Curses, that’s £250 gone then and the next day it starts to rain again. Still, at least that will keep people off the narrow roads.

Car facts

Model: Isuzu D-Max V-Cross Double Cab

Engine: 1.9 litre diesel

Power: 164PS

Top speed: 112mph

Max payload: 1.1+ tones

Max towing capacity: 3,500kg

Miles per gallon: 36.2 (combined)

Transmission: Six speed auto

CO2 (g/km): 205

Price: from £28,024.00