Spending extra time with Isuzu’s D-Max 250 X-Rider outs Isuzu’s true strengths

Ever since this version of Isuzu’s popular bakkie was first introduced as the KB six or seven years ago, we’ve called it the working man’s bakkie.

Indeed it’s still among the better looking bakkies on the market — especially in this X-Rider get-up. It will be with us a while yet as Isuzu tries to dodge lockdown to get he next D-Max to market. But that’d do well to keep this one going along side the all new replacement due likely in a year from now.

This one has also seen the Isuzu brand through its transformation to becoming a local manufacturer in its own right as it took over the GM plant down in PE. And the badge change from KB to its international D-Max moniker.

No frills under the skin

This 250 versions is no frills under the skin – it’s 5-speed auto is its only special feature – there’s not even a diff-lock. Which made us scratch our heads a little. We’d prefer more street-friendly rubber than the mud-pluggers it had. They did help on one excursion up a rocky tor, which the bakkie shrugged off in spite of no diff lock.

See, that gnarly rubber also detracts a little form D-Max’s otherwise smooth and resilient ride on asphalt. Still, handling and road manners are good although this one felt a tad hard, perhaps due to being among the older bakkies on the market. Which may very well be an advantage. So there are a few good reasons to consider this it, not least of all from a price to spec point of view.

The reason for that is while it lacks all the drama and inhibitions of a 4×4 system and a diff lock, our silver steed comes with all the bells and whistles to ensure you won’t look out of place, no matter what bakkie that yuppie rocks up with. That starts withthe fact that time has been very kind to D-Max – it certainly looks the part all on its own.

That X-Rider kit makes this bakkie pop

But bearing all that X-Rider kit makes this bakkie, well… pop. The paraphernalia stretches to a handsome set of wheels to matt black accessories including a roll-over bar and sude steps. And that familiar hard-wearing D-Max cabin gains red stitched black leather trim on the seats and multifunction steering wheel, piano black trim and new-age 8-inch touchscreen infotainment brings Bluetooth for audio streaming and handsfree calling.

Packing Isuzu’s venerable 100kW 320Nm 2.5 litre 16-valve turbodiesel powering the rear axle through a slick-shifting 5-speed automatic gearbox is good, if a bit hesitant to shift to the tallest ratio on the cruise. Our vacation X-Rider managed 100km/h in just under 11.93 seconds in our tests, while pulling from 80 to 120km/h in just over ten seconds.

No great shakes versus some of its significantly more powerful and even smaller-bore rivals. But then a base spec Navara costs R50 000 more. Add sixty grand for a base-spec Triton and the cheapest Amarok goes for R90K more, while boring rental spec Rangers and Hiluxes in this area all cost a bit more too.

D-Max 250 X-Rider also boasts a reasonable active and passive safety spec from Electronic Force BAS ABS braking, Electronic Stability Control with Traction Control, driver and passenger airbags and Side-Impact Protection Bars.

Reliable and trusty D-Max 250 deliverS

So no, this bakkie was never going to stop any presses or write any incredible headlines. The Isuzu D-Max 250 X-Rider is more a reliable and trusty double cab that continues to deliver on its core strength of honesty of purpose. It still knows it’s just a bakkie and that’s a plus, never mind that this particular mid-ranger packs an extraordinary amount of spec at a bloody good price… – Michele Lupini

Images – Giordano Lupini

ROAD TESTED: Isuzu D-Max 250 DC X-Rider auto
Engine: 100 kW 330 Nm 2.5-litre turbodiesel I4
Drive: 5-speed automatic RWD
0-60km/h:         4.77 sec
0-100km/h:        11.93 sec
0-120 km/h        16.77 sec
400m:             18.1 sec @ 119km/h
80-120km/h:       10.38 sec
Payload:          1025kg
Towing capacity:  2000 Kg
Fuel:             8.1 l/100km
CO2:              214 g/km
Warranty/Service: 5y 120K/5y 90Kkm
LIST PRICE:       R527K
RATED:            8
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