Colin-on-Cars – Road Review: Isuzu D-Max 250 X-Rider 4×2 auto

There was no question, looking through the camera lens, the Isuzu D-Max 250 HO Double Cab X-Rider auto parked on the sand had a Viking kind of machismo to it – prompting the name ‘Erik the Red’ in my Instagram post that followed.

It took mere seconds for Isuzu South Africa to respond with a smiley and the comment ‘lady in red’.

Having now spent some quality time with the vehicle, I still believe it has a strong presence but have to love the fact it also has a gentleness to it in terms of comfort and how it deals with rippled roads so need to concede, possibly it could be a Viking lady, ‘Erika the Red’.

The Isuzu D-Max range was been expanded in South Africa earlier this year with the headliner being the lifestyle-oriented Isuzu D-Max 250 X-Rider, which gained a five-speed automatic transmission for the first time.

This five-speed automatic gearbox was developed to suit the performance characteristics of Isuzu’s 2,5-litre intercooled turbo-diesel engine, that produces 100 kW of power at 3 400 r/min. The maximum torque output of 320 Nm is available between 1 800 r/min and 2 800 r/min.

That engine has part of the Isuzu for some time and, perhaps, in the context of the latest generation diesel engines out there may be considered a tad agricultural. However, it remains an exceptionally willing and versatile engine, well suited to a bakkie that suits both business and leisure purposes.

Towing capacity for a braked trailer is 2 100 kilograms and the load box (which has four tie-down brackets) can carry a shade more than 1-ton.

Unladen, our overall fuel consumption average was 8,2 l/100 km and with a large load, this went up to 8,8 l/100 km.

Still, it was sitting gazing out at the ocean from that watering hole I rarely visit when a comment by the owner and affirmed fan of a different brand of double cab caught my attention, with him saying he really like the width of the base of the rear doors on the D-Max.

This prompted the ‘borrowing’ of a couple of the larger lads from the establishment to do a quick test and, indeed, the result was clear – the D-Max had the better access.

Besides the seriously red of my test unit, the X-Rider’s design cues include a striking black finish for the front bumper and radiator grille, complemented by an assertive red Isuzu badge taking pride of place up front.

Projector-style headlamps with integrated LED daytime running lights give the X-Rider real on-road presence.

The B-pillars, tubular side steps and sports bar also receive the distinctive black treatment, along with X-Rider decals. Diamond-cut 18-inch alloy rims with a two-tone silver and black colour scheme, topped off with red Isuzu decals on the centre wheel caps enhance the look.

Inside, there are black leather bucket seats with contrasting red stitching and the X-Rider logo embroidered on the headrests. The steering wheel and the gear lever cover are trimmed in leather with red stitching.

High-gloss piano black door trim inserts are offset with a bright red ‘X’, complemented by a similar treatment for the vents and radio surrounds.

An abundance of active safety features help the driver maintain control in all types of conditions, including anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist System (BAS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with Traction Control, as well as Hill Start Assist (HSA) and Hill Descent Control (HDC).

Occupant protection is provided by means of driver and passenger crash bags, seatbelt pretensioners, side impact protection bars and a collapsible steering column. Remote-controlled central locking is standard, along with remote keyless entry, an anti-theft alarm system and transponder immobiliser. A Bluetooth-enabled audio system is provided, linked to six speakers.

While it does take a little time to build up momentum from a standing start, the 250 is no slouch once it gets there and will munch away the kilometres with nary a change in engine note. On the highway, perhaps one this missing from the spec sheet is cruise control, as it liked to sneak over the limit like a thief in the night.

When it does need to compensate on hills by dropping a cog, the gear shifts are smooth, quick and silent (as they are on the way up through the gears) and the ratio spacing was nicely matched to the vehicle as a whole – rather than a random decision taken by a different department.

The high-ride coil over shock suspension setup at the front and overslung leaf spring at the rear ensures the vehicle stays glued firmly to the road. There is none of the ‘judder’ often felt in 4×2 vehicles with no load, especially on rippled dirt roads.

In addition to keeping all four wheels in touch with the tarmac, the suspension did a good job of keeping those ripples and bumps out of the cabin, meaning longer haul trips are far less fatiguing and do not demand constant fighting with the steering wheel.

Although a 4×2 version, it shares a ground clearance of 225 mm with its siblings along with an approach angle of 30 degrees, departure angle of 22,7 degrees and break-over angle of 22,4 degrees with a fording depth of 600 mm – all meaning it is not just a pavement decoration for shopping centres and can easily be taken well off the beaten track.

All Isuzu D-Max models come standard with Isuzu Complete Care, comprising a five-year/120 000 km bumper-to-bumper warranty and Isuzu Roadside Assistance, a five-year/unlimited km anti-corrosion warranty and a five-year/90 000 km Service Plan. Service intervals are every 15 000 km/12 months.

Erik or Erika, the choice is yours.

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