Isuzu D-Max XTR Review

When a D-Max pick-up truck gets exposed to Gamma Radiation

Watch the video or look closely at the pictures of this D-Max XTR and you’ll notice splashes of vibrant green on the badges, brake callipers, badges and even on the stitching inside. It particularly stands out on this beefy truck’s cosmic mica black paintwork, boasting 17-inch black alloy wheels shod with huge 32-inch all-terrain Pirelli Scorpion tyres.

These green imprints are in fact evidence of this Isuzu pickup truck being exposed to a dangerous dose of gamma radiation, which transformed it into the Incredible Hulk of pick-ups, evidenced by the pumped-out fenders and body kit, and the camouflage-style graphics suggesting ragged and ripped apparel– at least that’s how I’m imagining it.

It’s even got a unique superpower, super vision in the form of £755 optional roof-mounted LED lazer light bar that is so bright that if fired at night will cause the occupants of the International Space Station to pull down their blinds, and if triggered in the day will vapourise all organic life within 100 metres! By the way, if we’re getting into prices, the green mood lights are £206, the badges are £126 and the graphics £525. And since you didn’t ask, the bed cover, roof rails and sports bars are £1857. While I’m at it, the touchscreen with sat nav, DAB, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is £2155.

What you probably are asking about is the price, and that’s over £40k for this XTR edition – essentially the coolest, meanest and gadgetiest of the D-Max range. It’s powered by a 1.9-litre four-cylinder diesel unit putting out 164bhp and 266 lb ft (360Nm) of torque. You get a 0-62mph acceleration time of 13 seconds, a top speed of 112mph and 40mpg whilst putting out 183-205g/100km of CO2.

It weighs 2000kg can carry over a ton and pull three-and-half tons. It looks big, it is big, kinda at 5.4m long and 1.9m wide and tall. There are side-steps to help you up into the cabin and of course bespoke lifted suspension, as well as the extended wheel arches, and aggressive front styling to give it more menacing appeal. Which works – the intimidation factor is off the scale, especially in town, where small hatchbacks simply leap out of your way as you approach.

Not that you’ll arrive at the space they occupied particularly quickly, but like the Hulk, this truck is not about moving rapidly, it’s about heaving powerfully and that it does rather well. Do not for a moment imagine you’ll enjoy driving this fast on twisty roads, actually you probably will, but only in a perversely anarchic sort of way, rather than man-and-machine at one manner. You won’t so much straight line a corner, precisely clipping the apex, as you will simply lollop around it laughing and pummelling the apex into submission. The next few apexes just called in sick.

It feels like its on stilts because it is; it leans, pitches and rolls because it’s got reams of suspension travel for off-roading; it loosely interprets your commands to the helm and mostly gets them approximately correct; and it certainly stops – if you give it plenty of advanced notice.

The steering is actually very well weighted, and the gear shift is mostly tameable – just be sure you’re in first notdogleg reverse before you enter the traffic light gran prix with that bus driver you’re eye-to-eye with. Now if all of this sounds a tad derisive, you’ve misunderstood me – the D-Max XTR is an engaging machine to peddle that you have to coax and work at. You revel in breaking the laws of physics because it doesn’t subscribe to them, and you find yourself whooping and laughing half the time and working up a sweat the other half.

It’ll chop along the motorway with surprising competence, occupying the overtaking lane more than one might expect, and the ride settles into a floating action, whilst soaking up the city ruts and b-road bumps with barely a bounce.

Driving it around town is particularly fun, because it’s so totally crazy and out-of-place. Yet your commanding driving position puts you ahead of the game, its narrow width sees it squeeze through gaps and a rear camera helps you park it. Plus it’s not too tall to get into supermarket and Ikea car parks – where it comes into its own of course, swallowing up loads that would leave an estate car quivering.

And it would still carry your mates home, thanks to a double cab that boasts space enough for four six-foot plus occupants, not to mention numerous storage solutions (behind the rear seats, deep cubby hole, two gloveboxes, pop-out cupholders/trays on each side of the dash, and dash-top box etc). Dr Bruce Banner would have plenty of space to hide extra shirts and trousers in this thing – he goes through them pretty quickly.

It’s larger-than-life, absurdly practical, unconventionally entertaining, astonishingly comfortable, and oozing charisma. It’s a little crazy and it’s a lot of fun, and it’s a finger of defiance against the electric small footprint zeitgeist in case that’s all getting you down too. Only mavericks may apply.

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