On the 7th of April, ISUZU Motors South Africa launched its all-new ISUZU D-MAX bakkie at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in the Eastern Cape. This is a seventh-generation ISUZU light commercial vehicle to be produced in Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth) over the past 44 years. And this is the positive outcome of a R1,2-billion investment in ISUZU Motors South Africa announced back in 2019.

Manufactured and engineered in Gqeberha, the new ISUZU NEW ISUZU D-MAX builds on ISUZU’s proven record for reliability, durability, and exceptional fuel economy. With 24 derivatives on offer locally, the same high standard is maintained throughout: from the entry-level 1.9 Ddi Standard Model to the range-topping and luxuriously appointed 3.0 Ddi V-CROSS.

The new ISUZU D-MAX has undergone the equivalent to 4 million km of testing of which 700,000km were conducted in South Africa. A rigorous regime encompassed vertical bending, side bending and torsional tests to ensure that the new model can handle the toughest conditions. Torsional rigidity has been increased by 20 percent for improved handling and stability, while longitudinal rigidity is up by 26 percent, further contributing to stable performance and durability.

The newcomer is a sportier and sleeker appearance than its predecessor. Apart from the fact that the front doors on the Single and Extended Cab models, and the rear doors on the Double Cab, are longer, for improved access, the roofline is 10 mm lower. The bonnet and load area have been heightened by 15 mm and 30 mm respectively.

The wheelbase has been extended by 30mm allowing for the cabin structure optimisation. The design is further enhanced by minimising the gaps between body panels, and between the cabin and the cargo area – this has a positive effect on aerodynamics. The rear two-step bumper has also been seamlessly integrated into the design of the vehicle, adding to a sense of cohesiveness and luxury.

A new chassis design has been developed for the latest model, using larger side rails and increased inner side rail reinforcement. Side rail crash energy absorption has been increased to improve safety in a frontal impact, while an additional cross member provides extra reinforcement in the event of a side impact.

New chassis mounts for the cabin are used to significantly reduce noise vibration and harshness (NVH) and improve overall ride refinement and comfort levels.

Extensive suspension development was done to optimise the new ISUZU D-MAX for all types of conditions. South African customers place extreme demands on their vehicles – ranging from travelling at high speeds and long distances to loading the vehicle to capacity, towing heavy loads, and pushing the limits in arduous off-road conditions.

Accordingly, a new high-mounted upper control arm has been adopted for the front suspension to minimise body roll when cornering, while a revised camber angle keeps the tyre more grounded in turns, leading to greater stability and a more predictable steering feel.

Ride comfort has been further improved with the revised rear suspension design, which uses three leaf springs across the range in place of the previous model which used up to five-leaf springs. This achieves enhanced comfort, especially in unladen conditions, and contributes to weight reduction while not affecting payload capacity (up to 1 265 kg on the Single Cab) or towing capacity of up to 3 500 kg on the Double Cab variants (for a braked trailer).

At the same time, the distance to the bump stop rubber has been increased by 30 mm, while the shock absorber mounting angle has been reduced by 7 percent to improve damping efficiency. The shock absorbers have also been specifically tuned to match the suspension configuration for the different models – ranging from standard to heavy-duty.

Braking performance has been further raised with larger-diameter and thicker brake discs, and the brake booster ratio has been doubled. On the high-series models equipped with 17 and 18-inch wheels, new 320x30 mm discs are used in place of the 300x27 mm versions on the previous model. At the rear, 295x50 mm drums are standard fitment across all models, with the entry-level model gaining 41 mm in brake drum diameter for more dependable stopping power. Overall, the revised set-up delivers a significant reduction in fade and brake noise, and increased service life, matched to improved brake feel and control.

Even more capable off-road

The electronic shift-on-the-fly part-time four-wheel-drive system has also been updated, with a new actuator design delivering one of the quickest engagement times of 0.61 seconds when switching between two-wheel drive (2H), four-wheel drive high-range (4H) or low-range (4L). An electronically activated rear differential lock enhances off-road traction in uneven terrain, allowing you to conquer challenging routes with sure-footed confidence.

The new ISUZU D-MAX’s maximum wading depth has been increased from 600 to 800 mm thanks to the relocation of the rear axle high-mounted breather. Ground clearance is also up, from 235 to 240 mm on the high-spec models fitted with the new 265/60 R18 tyres (up from 255/60 R18). This is combined with improved clearance all round: approach angle of 30 degrees, departure angle of 24 degrees and 22.5-degree ramp-over angle depending on the model.

Underbody protection is crucial when driving off-road, so the new ISUZU D-MAX is equipped with a 1.5 mm thick steel skid plate, plus a 1 mm steel sump and transmission case guard. It also has a 5 mm reinforced resin aerodynamic deflector positioned further back to improve airflow under the vehicle.

The 4x4 models also benefit from the use of a lightweight high-strength one-piece aluminium tail shaft to deliver power to the rear axle, derived from large SUVs and pickups, for increased durability and reliability.

Performance & torque where you need it

New to the range is the all-new 1.9 Ddi engine, which meets the increasingly stringent global emission standards, and the demand for refinement and quiet operation, allied to greater fuel efficiency and low running costs.

The 1.9-litre four-cylinder intercooled turbodiesel engine uses common rail direct injection, along with a wide range, high-efficiency variable geometry turbocharger with an electronically controlled actuator to deliver excellent turbo response, and produce higher output than many larger capacity engines. It delivers 110 kW of power at 3 600 r/min, linked to maximum torque of 350 Nm from 1 800 to 2 600 r/min.

ISUZU’s proven and trusted 3.0-litre engine remains part of the line-up but has been extensively updated. Some of the key changes include increased fuel injection pressure for the common rail system (up from 200 MPa to 250 MPa) for reduced emissions. Fuel consumption has been optimised by introducing the latest-generation high-performance injectors, along with the latest technology fuel supply pump that uses 20 percent less engine power when operating. Furthermore, a new electronically controlled variable geometry turbocharger significantly boosts turbo response and uses a high-efficiency, low-friction design. The air intake has also been repositioned from the side to the front of the vehicle to improve the flow of cooler air into the engine.

All of this contributes to a peak power output of 140 kW at 3 600 r/min (up 10 kW), and a 70 Nm boost in maximum torque to 450 Nm, which is available from 1 800 to 2 800 r/min.

Revised six-speed manual & automatic transmissions

The manual gearbox features a new gear lever pivot point which is moved 31 mm back, and the position of the lever is more upright and higher than before, creating a shift action that is more level and comfortable. With the gear lever feeding directly into the gearbox, rather than using additional cables, the shift is precise and direct for easy gear selection.

A similar theme is evident in the six-speed automatic transmission, with a higher-mounted and shorter shift lever providing better control and feel. The illuminated gear indicator on the shift lever adds an exclusive, upmarket touch too.

The operation of the automatic transmission has been recalibrated with faster gear shifts and improved fuel economy in mind. A new automatic transmission fluid cooler has also been fitted directly next to the transmission – instead of upfront as part of the radiator – to provide both more efficient cooling, along with faster warm-up when the vehicle is started.

A Model Range with wide choice

Single cab - a choice between two trim levels: Standard and L – the latter also offering 4x2 and 4x4 versions, and manual or automatic transmissions. All Single Cab models are powered by the new 1.9-litre turbodiesel powerplant

Extended cab - Available in Standard, L, LS and LSE trim, there are four 4x2 derivatives and one 4x4 option. Standard and L-spec models are available with a six-speed manual transmission, with LS and LSE versions offering six-speed automatic transmission as an alternative. Standard, L and LS models are powered by the same 1 898 cc diesel powerplant as the Single Cab line-up. LSE models feature ISUZU’s 3.0 Ddi powerplant, with 140 kW of power and maxim torque of 450 Nm.

Double Cab - A total of four trim grades are available in the comprehensive new ISUZU D-MAX Double Cab range: three L derivatives, four LS models, two LSE versions and two range-topping V-CROSS units.

All three L models use the 1.9-litre diesel powerplant and there are two 4x2 models – one with a six-speed manual transmission and the other an automatic, plus the option of a 4x4 manual. As the entry-level models in the Double Cab range, they are ideally suited to industrial and agricultural applications where reliability and low running costs are key considerations.

Up next are the LS specification models, offering a wide range of options, encompassing the 1.9 Ddi or 3.0 Ddi engines, manual or automatic, and 4x2 or 4x4.

Luxury and sophistication are stepped up a further notch with the LSE Double Cab models, available exclusively with the 3.0 Di engine and six-speed automatic transmission, but with a choice of two or four-wheel drive. Standard features include Passive Entry Start System with an automatic walkaway door lock. Additional standard features that mirror the Extended Cab models, include the large 9-inch infotainment system, front and rear parking sensors, Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, rear radar and LED lights.

The V-CROSS also comes standard with Auto High Beam lighting and the array of safety features is truly impressive. The Intelligent Driver Assist System (IDAS) on the new ISUZU D-MAX V-CROSS model operates with a cutting-edge stereo camera, sonar and radar technologies. This enables an extensive range of active driving aids including ISUZU’s Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Turn Assist Auto Transmission Pedal Misapplication Function, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Attention Assist, Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS), Lane Departure Prevention (LDP), Lane Keep Assist System (LKAS), Emergency Lane Keeping (ELK), Rear Cross Traffic Alert, front and rear-radar and Blind Spot Monitor. The Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) comes with Interurban cyclist and pedestrian detection making it a perfect fit for inner-city drives. Additional innovative safety features include the Multi Collision Brake (MCB) that will automatically apply the brakes when the airbags are deployed and a far side airbag that prevents the front seat occupants’ heads from contacting each other.

This is a condensed version of an 8-page 3200-word press release. For more details, please contact Faizal Mohideen at 031 713 3111 or faizal.mohideen@keygroup.co.za and visit one of our showrooms to touch the exciting, all-new Isuzu D-MAX range.