The bakkie man’s bakkie keeps on delivering the goods
Isuzu called its D-Max a giant step forward when it a arrived a couple of seasons back. Promised state of the art tech enhanced its every aspect. Intensively developed, engineered and durability tested in South Africa, for South Africans, they said it was built just for you.
Everything, from suspension to its tyres, it’s tough, made to measure load box and tailgate, to dust sealing, was exhaustively tested in local conditions. Fettled to meet and exceed every South African customer expectation. In the most demanding of local conditions.
D-Max LSE neither over the top nor ostentatious
This bold, red middle of the range model has chrome grille and trim and steps up to LED headlamps with smart daylight running light, front fog lamps and a high level brake light at the rear. The LEDs are a good step up from the Halogens we last drove a D-Max LS on.
LSE also steps up to face polished 18-inch alloys sporting more street-oriented 265/60 bakkie tyres and has neat side steps and a roll hoop above a neat roller cover, but the tailgate does not lock centrally. You can pack a tonne under that in the bak, and this 4X2 D-Max can pull a 3,500 kg braked trailer.
Not that you’d notice it all straight up though. Park this D-Max alongside a previous one and you may need to squint to see the difference. It’s a bigger step forward inside, where an is neater, angular and sensible dash is neither over the top nor ostentatious. It’s great if you just want a bakkie. Not so much if you want carlike refinement, but a pleasant place to drive.
D-Max LSE a pleasant place to drive
Unlike the LS, this one’s infotainment screen actually fills the space left for it on the dash. But it’s a usable system. Has Auto, CarPlay and Bluetooth connectivity, USB ports front and rear, and an AUX input too. The touchscreen is backed by dash and steering wheel buttons that also toggle the trip computer nestling between fine and legible analogue dials.
Airconditioned with power windows all round, and remote central locking, the grippy cross stitched power multifunction steering wheel falls nicely to hand. There’s cruise control, and rear park distance control with a reversing camera, traction and stability control, and ABS brakes with EBD and assist, seven airbags, and Isofix kid seat mounts.
For the rest, it’s just a matter of get in and go without any stupid driver aids that are near impossible to switch off. This three-litre four-pot drives very well. It has oodles of usable power and a little turbo lag, but nothing to write home about. And it’s close to the fastest-four pot diesel double cab we have ever tested, too.
Impressively economical at 7.9 l/100 km
Producing 140 kW at a relatively low 3,600 r/min peak, its 450 Nm offsets that in a decent band between 1600 and 2600 revs. D-Max LSE is economical too, at a claimed 7.9 litres per hundred and you should manage over 950 km on a tank of diesel.
The six-speed automatic shifts easily and logically. On the flipside, this bakkie has a hard and bouncy ride, which was relatively surprising considering the medium profile rubber. But comfortable seats, and a pleasant, spacious driving environment conspire to deliver a good all-round package that’s competitively priced too.
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. But others among us reckon it’s among the better looking bakkies out there.
D-Max 3.0TD DC LSE is a great value, basic bakkie.
All in all, however, this bakkie sits pretty well up the broad Isuzu D-Max double cab hierarchy to deliver a great value for money, reasonable specification. A quarter-million away from the new world of million rand bakkies, it’s actually a damn decent bargain.
Which is exactly what we’ve always admired Isuzu for. The D-Max LSE is still very much the bakkie man’s bakkie. – Michele Lupini
Test data & images: Giordano Lupini
TOW TESTED: Isuzu D-Max 3.0TD DC LSE automatic Engine: 140 Kw 450 Nm 3-litre turbodiesel Drive: 6 speed automatic RWD Load Capacity: 990 kg Braked Trailer: 3,500 kg TESTED: 0-60 km/h: 4.02 sec 0-100 km/h: 9.37 sec 0-120 km/h: 13.03 sec 0-160 km/h: 25.23 sec 0-400m: 16.1 sec @ 136 km/h 80-120 km/h: 6.78 sec 120-160 km/h: 12.22 sec CLAIMED: VMax: 185 km/h Fuel: 7.9 l/100 km CO2: 208 g/km Range: 950 km Warranty/Service: 5y 120K/5y 90K km LIST PRICE: R779K RATED: 8