First Drive: Isuzu D-max Single Cab

Date: Monday, February 25, 2013

Isuzu has now added the 4x4 single cab D-max to the selection of double cab variants launched last year, and first impressions are that it’s a ‘salt of the earth’ sort of pick-up that does what it says on the tin.

 Like the rest of the line-up the single cab is powered by Isuzu’s European-specific 163hp 2.5-litre common-rail diesel engine, which provides impressive power and more than respectable efficiency – the official combined cycle consumption is 38.2mpg.
Peak torque output of 400Nm is available from 1400rpm – designed to maximise the truck’s pulling power at low speeds – meaning first gear is effectively a crawling gear and sixth the one for motorway cruising. In between we found the shifts pleasantly notch-free while there was a surprisingly light feel to the clutch.
The D-max does not lack strength; capable of towing up to three tonnes, 90% of sales are equipped with tow bars. The single cab 4x4 we tested also boasts a meaty payload capacity of 1136kg. Being a two-seater it offers a larger load bay, measuring 2305 x 1570 x 440mm for length, width and height. This compares with the five-seat double cab’s 1552 x 1530 x 465mm. The load bay dimensions on the extended cab version are 1795 x 1530 x 465mm.
Isuzu says a longer, wider and stronger chassis has improved handing and increased stability on the D-max compared with its predecessor, the Rodeo. The new chassis consists of high tensile- strength steel with additional cross-member braces to increase torsional rigidity and spread the weight of the payload more evenly to enhance laden handling on-and off-road.
The engine has been shifted rearwards and lowered to improve weight distribution and lower the centre of gravity. The double- wishbone, coil-sprung front suspension with gas-filled double- action shock absorbers and anti-roll bar is designed to boost ride quality on-road and soak up bumps off-road. The rear is fitted with leaf-spring suspension to optimise load-lugging capability.
On winding A and B roads the single cab 4x4 feels reasonably stable although it is advisable to take corners quite sedately to avoid giving the rear end the jitters. Without a load on board to provide an anchor, the pick-up does tend to bounce about even on smoothish road surfaces and there is little to stop the vibrations reaching the cab’s occupants.
With customers’ priorities likely to be low running costs, durability and an immunity to scuffs, there is a no-nonsense feel to the truck’s styling. It has 16-inch steel wheels, plastic bumpers and door handles and fabric seats, plus an easy-to- clean vinyl floor inside. The centrally located plastic dial to switch between two- and four- wheel drive is user-friendly but doesn’t look as though it would withstand too many collisions with tools or bags of kit thrown into the cab.
As expected for what is a working tool, creature comforts are kept to a minimum, but on a raw and foggy winter day the heater fired up quickly to warm the cab, and for when the temperature rises air-conditioning comes as standard too. On the other hand, you don’t get a clock, the radio is fiddly and pretty basic and if you want a height-adjustable steering wheel and driver’s seat you need to step up to an Eiger double cab.
However, on the safety side it is good to see that an electronic stability control system is fitted as standard.

 

Verdict

A tough, capable pick-up truck unashamedly marketed as a durable workhorse.



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