The bakkie you can’t buy

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE - AL­WYN VILJOEN

WHEN Isuzu is­sued the lim­ited edi­tion X-Track, buy­ers al­most im­me­di­ately snapped up all avail­able units in Au­gust, ex­cept for the me­dia test unit

Wheels got to drive this week. Assess­ing a ve­hi­cle that is no longer for sale raises in­ter­est­ing ques­tions. Does the X-Track have the mak­ings of a col­lectable car — even a clas­sic?

Or can it per­haps point to all the Hilux and Ranger buy­ers be­ing wrong about South Africa’s third most pop­u­lar bakkie?

I de­cided to an­swer the lat­ter ques­tion, load­ing the bakkie and assess­ing the ride over 1 000 km.

The X-Track is based on the 250 HO Hi-Rider 4x2, so no mud or any of our usual axle-bend­ing in­clines, but the ag­gres­sive-look­ing 255/60 all-ter­rain tyres on 18” di­a­mond-cut al­loy rims can — and did — take on all the rut­ted dirt roads past the toll gates.

The X-Rider was sold in the ex­tended and dou­ble cab body styles; we had the lat­ter and even the heav­ier cab bounces a fair bit over the ruts when empty. This ride is on par with a Hilux or Ranger. Loaded with a scooter, it set­tled down to the smooth ride Isuzu made its name with.

In­side, leather seats em­broi­dered with the X-Track logo on the front head-rests, a leather­trimmed steer­ing wheel, red stitch­ing and re­mote key­less en­try and pi­ano black in­serts — also with a bold red “X” mo­tif — add a lux­ury feel to the bakkie. Blue­tooth pairs sim­ply by telling the phone to look for Isuzu and press­ing ac­cept and the GM sys­tem seam­lessly pairs mu­sic and Google Maps’ voice.

A tow bar for a 2,1-ton braked trailer on the back is re­ally use­ful. Re­mem­ber the law re­quires the tow­ing ve­hi­cle to be as heavy or heav­ier in gross ve­hi­cle mass than the trailer, which means you can­not load more than 2,1 tons — a very real­is­tic weight to my mind.

This com­pares to three tons for the Nis­san Navara, a weight that few nor­mal ve­hi­cle brakes are de­signed to stop.

All X-Track de­riv­a­tives are pow­ered by the new 100 kW/320 Nm ver­sion of Isuzu’s 2,5-litre turbo diesel, and we got well over 11 km/l do­ing sen­si­ble speeds over long roads even with our scooter adding drag on the back.

Sell­ing for R366 380, the X-Track cer­tainly was good value, and my only nig­gle at this price is the lack of a dif­flock. For with its bold red lo­gos over a black front bumper guard and LED day­time run­ning lights, this bakkie is a looker, but it needs to pre­vent wheel slip to take on re­ally ex­treme tracks.

Maybe that can be the next lim­ited edi­tion, Isuzu South Africa? Now that will be a col­lectible bakkie, much like the Toy­ota Land Cruiser that sold for R2,5 mil­lion at Peb­ble Beach last month.

PHOTO: WHEELS24

The Isuzu X-Track turned into an in­stant clas­sic when it went on sale in July.

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