The Isuzu D-Max Tipper is something of an enigma. That’s because it’s a new model that’s actually based on a used vehicle.
Isuzu is offering the retrofit conversion by TGS solely on the Utility extended cab model. The tipper conversion costs £3,995 plus VAT in addition to the price of a used D-Max – in the case of our 68-plate, 8,000-mile test vehicle, that was circa £17,000, which makes a grand total of £21,000 plus VAT.
Behind the front seats there’s huge storage or two jump seats accessed via flap doors. With a wheelbase of 3,095mm, overall dimensions are 5,313mm long, 1,860mm wide and 1,870mm high. For off-road use a decent approach angle of 30° is tempered by departure and ramp angles both being a moderate 22°. Ground clearance under the rear axle is 225mm. The test model was on 245/70R 16 tyres with a BF Goodrich All-Terrain KO2 pattern.
The gross vehicle mass is 3,050kg, with an impressive 3,500kg of towing capacity, while the vehicle also offers a gross trailer mass of 6,000kg, so fully laden it can tow 2,950kg. Payload is a minimum 900kg depending upon base specification.
At 1,977mm long, 1,800mm wide and with 300mm-high sides, the tipper’s levelled capacity exceeds 1.0m3, or more than 1.6t of sand. The 900kg payload offers 0.56m3 but will more likely see an 800kg builders merchants’ bag. The tailboard hinges at both the top and bottom – the dropsides are like the latter – and tipping is operated from the cab rear by a short wander lead. A few more pence spent on cable would let you stand at the tail to observe any problems.
The 1,898cc turbodiesel puts 164hp and 360Nm of torque through a six-speed manual transmission to the rear wheels, with selectable 4WD in high or 2.3:1 reduction ratio low ranges. Its simple rotary control isn’t as comprehensive as the Mitsubishi L200’s, but it has a strong, electronic hill descent control. With a 4.3:1 final drive the extended cab makes first gear a true crawler gear, which is excellent when laden, but the pick-up takes a huge step to second gear, needing 4,000rpm winding on in first to drop back into the torque post-upshift. The rest of the gear cascade is conventional, making it easy to keep the 1.9-litre spinning in its 2,000-2,500rpm torque peak. Sixth offers 33mph per 1,000 revs, putting 60mph at 1,800rpm, but torque drops off a cliff edge below that. Despite this, for a small-capacity engine, it has a pleasant laid-back gait through the upper three gears and reminds one more of Isuzu’s late-model Trooper SUV than the weak-willed TF pick-up.
At four turns lock to lock, the rather vague steering joins the loping feel on A-roads, and the progressive, firm brakes are at odds with the woolly clutch action that completes the unhurried persona.
The excellent unladen ride – 300kg of tipper helps – makes up for the below-par seat, with its coarse adjustments, and only height-adjust is available on the steering wheel.
The cab is spacious with twin gloveboxes and bottle-fit door bins, and all the switchgear feels positive and is chunky enough to use wearing gloves. There is masses of space in the cab rear, which is complete with coat hooks.
There’s excellent dipped beam, with a moderate main beam, and while the instruments and panel switches dim well at night, the Bluetooth/USB radio burn bright. Safety kit includes electronic stability control that’s switchable off-road, and side and curtain airbags in the cab.
Over around 500 miles the D-Max returned an excellent 36.7mpg overall, with a best of 37.2mpg.
Isuzu D-Max Tipper Utility Extended Cab
Price (ex VAT) £21,000 (est)
Price range (ex VAT) £17,095-£29,994
Insurance group 39A
Service intervals 2yrs/12,000mls
Load length 1,977mm
Load width (min/max) 1,800/1,800mm
Load bay height 300mm
Gross payload 900kg
Load volume n/a
Engine size/power 1,898cc/164hp
Combined fuel economy 40.4mpg
A tough, economical workhorse, if a little dated in places. It’s a pity you cannot buy a new one.