Port Elizabeth - Isuzu South Africa wants you to get acquainted with a new name: D-Max.
The KB badge is no more, and the locally-produced bakkie range will now be referred to as D-Max, in line with the rest world and the name change also coincided with a range expansion at the bottom end while upper models benefit from styling and spec enhancements and mechanical changes.
So what does D-Max actually mean?
It’s a bit on the complicated side. The name was first used on the 2000 model year Isuzu bakkie in Thailand, the D referring to that model’s so-called “Dragon Eye” headlights, although nowadays Isuzu feels that it might as well also stand for ‘diesel’, ‘direct injection’, ‘design’ and ‘durability’. Max apparently refers to Isuzu’s “maximum” approach to everything it does. We told you it was complicated.
Fancier finishes for LX flagship
3-litre LX derivatives get a nip and tuck inside and out, the range-toppers receiving a new chrome grille that appears to run into the headlights thanks to chrome elements that sit above the new projector-type LED headlights (not fitted to single cabs).
The LX models also get a more premium finish inside, highlights including new soft touch panels for the instrument cluster binnacle, along with a more “high-quality” grain for the dashboard and door trims and piano black garnishes.
A new 20.3cm full colour touchscreen with reverse camera replaces the 16.5cm unit fitted to the previous model, and Isuzu buyers can now also opt for the premium Alpine 23cm infotainment system offered on the Mu-X SUV, which also comes with satnav as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity.
New gearbox for 3.0 models
The 3-litre range-toppers also get new gearboxes in the form of a six-speed manual that replaced the previous five-speed and a six-speed automatic option that recent debuted in the Mu-X. As before, the 3-litre turbodiesel engine produces 130kW and 380Nm.
LX derivatives have been given a safety boost too, with enhanced braking and the addition of Trailer Sway Control.
Range expanded to 30 derivatives
The Isuzu bakkie range is now officially vast enough to make your head spin, with the line-up expanding from 21 to 30 derivatives in total.
Many of the additions are at the ‘workhorse’ end of the range. Customers are now able to order their Base single cab with a flat load deck or in Dropside configuration. These versions can be ordered with either the 2.5-litre base engine with 58kW and 176Nm or, in the case of ‘Safety’ models, the high-output variant that pushes 100kW and 230Nm.
Do note that unless you go for the higher-spec ‘Safety’, the D-Max misses out on essential safety features such as ABS brakes, airbags and stability control. How it is even legal to put a heavy, rear-wheel-driven bakkie onto the road without ABS is a cause for huge concern, both for those in the vehicle and other road users who may be in its path.
Also joining the range is a new 2.5-litre (high output) Base double cab, that slots beneath the existing ‘Hi-Rider’ and brings the base price of the four-door range down to R332 500, but like the base single cabs this one is also missing essential safety features such as airbags and ABS. Unlike its signe cab equivalents, however, it does pack comfort features like aircon and an audio system.
All D-Max models are sold with a five-year/120 000km warranty and five-year/90 000km service plan.