This post is also available in: Afrikaans
by Dirk Gallowitz
Isuzu Motors South Africa recently expanded their D-MAX-pickup series by fitting five models of the 250 turbo diesel range with automatic gearboxes. When General Motors, then distributors of the Isuzu pickup in South Africa, withdrew from the RSA in 2017, Isuzu owners feared that their well-loved pickups might disappear.
However, Isuzu Motors South Africa, an independent Japanese company, took the gap and merged the production lines of their pickups and trucks in Port Elizabeth. Over the past two years the merger progressed by leaps and bounds.
The new generation Isuzu D-MAX, long awaited by Isuzu enthusiasts, is earmarked to become available in South Africa later in 2021. Isuzu Motors South Africa announced an investment of 1,2 billion in the Port Elizabeth plant, towards the manufacturing of the next generation pickup. This will include manufacturing and distribution of the vehicles, developing a local supplier network, and also manufacturing of the full spectrum of components and accessories.
Isuzu Motors SA is one of the few pickup manufacturers to test their models extensively under local conditions and develop them specifically for Southern African conditions. The new five-speed automatic gearbox has been developed and adapted to be specifically suited to the performance and output of the 2,5 litre intercooler turbodiesel engine.
According to Dominic Rimmer, Senior Vice-President: Technical Operations of Isuzu Motors SA, the increasing preference for automatic gearboxes over the past number of years made it imperative that the D-MAX 250 series should also be fitted with them without harming the proven reputation for depend- ability and excellent fuel efficiency of the vehicles.
The proven 2,5 turbo diesel engine delivers a maximum output of 100 kW at 3 400 rpm and 320 Nm peak torque between 1 800 and 2 800 rpm. The official fuel consumption for the automatic models is given as 8,1 ℓ/100 km based on a mixed cycle of city and off-road driving.
Similar to the D-MAX 250 manual gearbox models, those with the automatic version can also tow a maximum of 2 100 kg on a trailer with brakes, while the load compartment can handle a load of 1 000 kg. We only drove the X-Rider top model D-Max 250TD 4×2 Automatic during the launch.
The exterior of the 2020 X Rider version appears sporty, functional and, with the beautiful 16 inch rims and General AT Grabber tyres, the Xrider is more than ready for a lifestyle of adventure and outdoor sport! The top model is well-equipped for driver and passenger comfort. This includes climate control, sound and communication systems – which can connect with Bluetooth and is controlled via an 8” touchscreen – plus USB ports and much more. Keyless access and start/shutdown control are standard,as well as the ultrasonic alarm system and cruise control.
Passenger safety is a high priority with electronically controlled anti-lock braking, distribution and braking assistance, traction and stability control, hill-holder control, and downhill acceleration control. Airbags for driver as well as front passenger is a standard feature.
All this may be very nice, but there is question: How does the 5-range autobox perform in the D-MAX 250TD 4×2 X-Rider? After more than 500 km, including city driving, open road touring, dirt road rallying and mountain pass climbing, I was surprised by the excellent combination of the 5-range automatic gearbox with the 2,5 ℓ turbodiesel engine.
I never felt a need for extra power or better performance. Gear-changing was smooth, and when I attacked the hairpin bends of the mountain passes and dirt roads, I merely had to tap the manual mode switch and then control the gear-changing manually.
To summarise – after the time spent in the X-Rider Auto, I was pleasantly impressed; so much so that I am convinced that the D-MAX 250TD Automatic 4×2 X-Rider is the best pickup one can buy for less than R500 000 if you want a stylish, affordable and economical family vehicle that can serve for various requirements – workhorse, church buggy and adventure roadster!
Price during launch:
D-MAX 250 1,5 cab Hi-Ride Auto R403 200
D-MAX 250 Double Cab Hi-Ride Auto R435 300
D-MAX 250 Double Cab LE Auto R459 000
D-MAX 300 Double Cab Hi-Ride Auto R464 100
D-MAX 250 Double Cab X-Rider Auto R474 700
All Isuzu D-MAX models are sold with the Isuzu Complete Care benefit, which includes a standard 5-year/120 000-km bumper-to-bumper warranty, Isuzu road assist service, a 5-year no-limit kilometre anti-rust guarantee; as well as a 5-year/90 000 km service plan.
Additional cover may be purchased for road-assist, a service plan as well as a maintenance plan.
Visit your nearest Isuzu dealer for a test drive.