Traffic alert! The doublecab has broken out of banjo country and is edging into mainstream motoring. And you should believe me because, six months down the line with the D-Max, I am now an official Expert of the Sector.
As I prepare to hand the keys back (a calm-sounding process, but one that in reality involves a hasty evacuation of Britaxes, nappies – unused, I’m not that disorganised – and retrieval of the world’s largest collection of CDs that don’t match their cases), I realise that my tenure behind the wheel of this Leviathan has provided me with some insight as to why more and more of the oncoming traffic I see around here bears the same badge. I’ve totted up the reasons why someone – maybe you – would go and buy one of these, a motoring option which, without some insight, might seem like a trip to a shoe shop to buy some light summer sandals which somehow culminates in the purchase of a pair of industrial hobnails. But that’s just it (i.e. reason number one). While the D-Max is rufty and tufty enough to wipe any sniggers off your builder’s face, it’s also eminently credible as a car. Even luxurious, I’d say, though a little bit more sound insulation behind the engine bay would not, as evidenced on higher-speed routes, go amiss. Four electric windows, air conditioning that does as it’s asked, a complicated stereo system which eventually does the same, acres of room in the back (Mitsubishi L200, read and weep), beautifully weighted steering with good feel of the road despite 18-inch tyres fit for quarry work, no creaks, no fluffed gears, no nonsense… oh, and a ride quality that vehemently belies the 3.5 tonne towing capacity.
Any notable niggles? As echoed on some forums, the fuel gauge can be a little hysterical when low, warning you to reach for the fuel can in the next 100 yards, only to tell you seconds later that you’ve got enough to reach London, if you really felt compelled to try and park this in such a wretched city. My truck also sported asymmetrical bodywork, which points to some scandalous factory oversight, were it not for the small fact that, as I try to forget, I clouted it into a bollard.
So it seems the weakest point in the D-Max was me. The maker has certainly hewn a machine that feels bomb proof. There’s a solidity here that promises a design that should see year after year of hard work, be that merely from the demands of a family or a small business. Or both. I know Isuzu had Land Rover in its sights when it unleashed this; on the build-quality front alone it signifies a serious (and far cheaper) alternative to the retiring Defender. No wonder they sold 1,322 in the first quarter of this year. And that it’s helping the brand to record popularity.
Hold on though: for the D-Max to ascend beyond the ranks of Diesel Car long termers and make its way into the all-time dream fleet, it would need to bring something more than good driving, promising durability and real practicality. It would need to inspire, be a machine which, as the Yukon badge might suggest, gets you dreaming of the open road (or track) ahead and speaks of the sheer joy of diesel motoring. Can it do that? I’d say yes. In a D-Max, you might not buy obvious social elevation, but you get masses of the real-life equivalent, setting you eye-to-eye with alternatives that cost more, but have little chance of delivering such versatile go-anywhere ability.
If it had done all this on something that points more to 40mpg and less to 30mpg, this is a realisation I’d be shouting from the window. As it is, and with that one caveat of its penchant for juice, I’d still say the D-Max allows Isuzu to tempt a new audience. And banjo music is not on the menu.
That loadspace will be sorely missed. Allows you to transport all manner of mess without spoiling the cabin. It means business!
A turning circle on par with the QE2 wouldnít be on everyoneís wish list, though the reversing camera takes the pain out of tight spots
|Date arrived:||27th November 2013|
|Mileage to date:||3,450 miles|
|Fuel consumption:||33.6mpg (official combined)
30.3mpg (on test)