The bakkie man’s bakkie impresses in frugal 1.9 spec

We have driven quite a few Isuzu D-Maxes of late and we’ve come to really enjoy their straightforward, honest approach to being a bakkie. Now unlike its brute force 3-litre big brother, this little 1.9 turbodiesel has its own strengths. Not that they’re immediately apparent, but these advantages become increasingly compelling as you get to know and understand them.

There’s not a huge difference in looks to the old D-Max. The new one is however sweeter, kinder to the eye on closer inspection. This middle of the range LS has satin silver grille embellishments, side steps and a roll hoop above a cool taunet cover to hide any bits and bobs you may load in there.

The tailgate locks with a key, but not centrally. And this one has regular Halogen headlamps with daytime driving running lights, front fog lamps and a high level brake light at the rear. The basic headlights lacked a little in the rain.

D-Max 1.9TD

A pleasant place to spend your driving time

Angular and sensibly laid out, the dash is far prettier than before. Neither over the top nor ostentatious, its great if you just want a bakkie. Maybe not if you’re after carlike refinement. Still, it’s a pleasant place to spend your driving time.

This airconditioned LS cabin has power windows front and rear, and remote central locking. The grippy cross stitched power multifunction steering wheel falls easily to hand. Add cruise, and rear park distance control aided and abetted by a reversing camera.

The infotainment screen seems too small for its place on the dash, But it’s easy to use and sensible. Has real buttons and knobs, Auto, CarPlay and Bluetooth. Add USB ports front and rear, and an AUX input too. Should keep the kids happy. The touchscreen is also run by steering buttons that also toggle the trip computer nestling between legible analogue dials.

D-Max 1.9TD

D-Max 1.9 LS sports neat 17-inch alloys

D-Max 1.9 LS sports neat standard 17-inch six spoke alloys sporting more street-oriented 255/65 R17 bakkie tyres. You can pack well over a tonne in the bak and this 1.9-litre 4×2 D-Max can pull a 2,100 kg braked trailer. Which is adequate. But you will need to buy up the range if you want the whole 3.5 ton hog.

Just get in and go, too. There are no stupid driver aids that are near impossible to switch off. There’s still traction and stability control, and ABS brakes with EBD and assist. Add seven airbags, Isofix kid seat mounts, and the rest.

This 1.9-litre four-pot copes very well. It has reasonable power, but performance is a touch tardy. Not that you’d ever notice on the road There’s a touch of turbo lag, but nothing to write home about. This one may lack its 3-litre big brother’s grunt, but it has another advantage. That’s at the fuel pump. The little 1.9 certainly lives up to Isuzu’s miserly hype.


Exceptionally economical for a bakkie at 7.3 l/100 km

Producing just 110 kW at a relatively low 3,600 rpm peak, its 350 Nm brings it back in a decent band between 1600 and 2600 revs. It’s impressively economical for a bakkie at a claimed 7.3 litres per hundred. You should easily manage over 1,100 km on a tank if you drive it accordingly on the open road

The six-speed automatic is handy, quite sensible and shifts when it should. That, comfortable seats, and a pleasant, spacious driving environment conspire to deliver a good all-round package. Its most competitively priced too.

On the flipside, this bakkie has a hard and has a bouncy ride unladen. It gets a bit better with a load on the back. Surprising considering the relatively tall profile rubber. Build quality could be deemed a bit tinny inside and out. And some may consider it ugly. And perhaps a little too similar looking to the older bakkie.

D-Max 1.9TD

D-Max 1.9 LS a great value, basic bakkie.

All in all, however, this middle of the broad Isuzu D-Max double cab range 1.9TD DC LS is a great value for money, good basic bakkie. Exactly what we expect from Isuzu. In fact, it had us wondering if you really need any more bakkie than this…. – Michele Lupini

Images & test data: Giordano Lupini

ROAD TESTED: Isuzu D-Max 1.9TD DC LS auto
Engine: 110 Kw 350 Nm 1.9 litre turbodiesel I4
Drive: 6 speed automatic 4x2
Load Capacity:    1,100 kg
Braked Trailer:   2,100 kg
0--60 km/h:       5.57 sec
0-100 km/h:       12.58 sec
0-120 km/h:       18.34 sec
0-400m:           18.6 sec @ 123 km/h
80-120 km/h:      9.81 sec
120-160 km/h:     12.22 sec
VMax:             175 km/h
Fuel:             7.3 l/100 km
CO2:              192 g/km
Range:            1,040 km
Warranty/Service: 5y 120K/5y 90K km
LIST PRICE:       R603K
RATED:            8
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