Trad­ing places

Isuzu’s work­horse is pop­u­lar with tradies but a new model aims to broaden its ap­peal

Herald Sun - Motoring - - FIRST DRIVE - JOSHUA DOWL­ING NA­TIONAL MO­TOR­ING EDITOR joshua.dowl­

THE Toy­ota HiLux and Ford Ranger con­tinue to duke it out for top-sell­ing ute sta­tus, but com­pe­ti­tion in the af­ford­able seg­ment of the pick-up mar­ket just got tougher.

The Isuzu D-Max four-door 4WD range — priced from $39,990 to $50,990 drive-away — has been given a fresh look, and an over­hauled diesel en­gine that has more grunt yet uses less fuel.

The up­date cat­a­pults the DMax from be­ing the old­est main­stream pick-up on sale — this gen­er­a­tion ar­rived in 2011 — to the new­est.

The vis­ual changes may be sub­tle but the bon­net, grille, head­lights and front bumper are all new.

The big news is what’s un­der the new nose.

Isuzu has all but re­built the 3.0-litre turbo diesel to meet the lat­est emis­sions stan­dards, in the process bring­ing the D-Max closer in power and torque to its com­peti­tors.

Power is the same as be­fore (130kW) but torque has been given a boost from 380Nm to 430Nm on man­ual and au­to­matic vari­ants.

While these out­puts are still less than most ri­vals, they shadow the top sell­ing Toy­ota HiLux, which has 130kW of power and 420Nm (man­ual) and 450Nm (auto) from its 2.8litre turbo diesel.

To han­dle the ex­tra grunt there are new trans­mis­sions.

The five-speed man­ual has been up­graded to a six-speed, and the six-speed auto has been strength­ened to han­dle the ex­tra torque.

The diff ra­tio is the same as be­fore but the in­ter­nals have

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