Isuzu’s D-Max light commercial range has been racking up some record sales despite the overall market contraction with X-Rider surging in popularity enough to prompt the addition of a 3,0-litre six-speed automatic variant.
Dominic Rimmer, Senior Vice President Technical Operations at Isuzu Motors South Africa says: “Despite challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and the national lockdown the engineering and product development team at Isuzu has been hard at work making changes to the current line-up of vehicles with some key updates for 2020 as well as doing engineering and durability testing on the upcoming next generation D-MAX bakkie.”
“Isuzu has a very long and rich heritage in our market. We have been engineering and manufacturing reliable and durable vehicles for the last 48 years. In that time, we have learnt valuable lessons about what it takes to engineer a vehicle which can cope with the tough driving conditions in South Africa. Our customers are also very particular about what they want. Our aim is to engineer vehicles which are capable of meeting and exceeding those customer expectations.”
The 3.0 X-Rider is only available with a 6-speed automatic transmission. This is a decision which has been made in response to the popularity of automatic transmissions in the light commercial vehicle segment.
The 3.0 Double Cab X-Rider Automatic has the same exterior design where front styling is dominated by a black grill with a red Isuzu badge and a black bumper guard.
It is available with two 18-inch wheel options in black or diamond cut. An X-Rider 3.0 TD logo adorns the front doors along with clear side indicators.
All 3.0 X-Riders come with standard black side steps, matt black roof rails, black X-Rider Sport bar, a lockable tailgate with rear view camera, black Isuzu logo, and a standard 3.5 ton towbar.
Exclusive X-Rider interior features include black leather seats with red stitching, a leather wrapped steering with red Isuzu logo. Door panels have piano black finish with X-Rider logo. The piano black finish can also be found on the centre console.
Infotainment is standard and an 8-inch AX2 TFT touch screen system with steering wheel controls and is used in conjunction with the rear-view camera
The 3.0 litre Double Cab X-Rider Automatic is available at Isuzu dealerships for R 551 100.
The rest of the D-MAX model range has received cosmetic changes to enhance the luxury feel of the leisure models which now have an all-black interior including a black roof liner and black cladding on the pillars. In addition, 4×4 models get a black 4×4 sticker which has been changed from red.
4×2 models now come standard with Tow bar and Sports bar. The LE models have been repositioned to make them more attractive to fleet buyers and better positioned against their main rivals.
3.0 litre LX and LE Plus models feature a Brake Override System – activated when both brake and accelerator pedals are pressed together.
Isuzu’s 7-seater SUV has received cosmetic upgrades to enhance its styling, and these include the addition of piano black inserts on the front grill and lower bumper valence including piano black front fog light bezels.
The mu-X now has a new 18-inch wheel, black running boards with piano black inserts on the edges. The piano black treatment continues at the rear of the vehicle with a blacked out rear bumper seal.
Changes inside the vehicle include soft leather trim and piano black finish on the door panels with LED ambient lighting strips on all four doors.
The mu-X has an 8-speaker audio system with iPod and Bluetooth phone connectivity, including two roof mounted speakers. The Ax2 infotainment system with an 8-inch TFT touch screen display is standard, while a larger 9-inch Multi-Function Alpine infotainment system with satellite navigation is offered as an optional extra. Both units have steering wheel mounted audio controls.
The Isuzu mu-X is available in two models, the mu-X 3.0 4×2 6-speed Automatic which retails at R 643 100,00, and the mu-X 3.0 4×4 6-speed Automatic which retails at R 712 200,00.
Isuzu has also announced that work is underway on the engineering and testing of the next generation D-MAX bakkie, which will be manufactured at Isuzu’s assembly plant in Port Elizabeth.
“This next generation D-MAX is a significant step forward for Isuzu in all respects. It offers state of the art technology to enhance the driving experience, efficiency and safety. As you know we have very high expectations for the D-MAX here in South Africa so a significant amount of work has to be done to ensure that we deliver a vehicle which is capable of coping with our challenging environment and customer demands,” says Rimmer.
Some of the key projects being undertaken include testing on the load box which in the current bakkie is has significantly thicker steel in strategic areas such as the load box inner panels, load box front panel, and tailgate.
Other areas receiving attention from local engineers include, dust sealing, suspension tuning and development of local dampers, development of all terrain tyres, rear differential lock and axles, wiring harnesses, and accessories such as canopies, roll bars and nudge bars.