REVIEW: Mid-spec Isuzu D-Max 1.9 LS is all the bakkie you need

Published Sep 1, 2022


Review: Isuzu D-Max 1.9 Ddi LS Double Cab

Pretoria - When Isuzu launched the new D-Max earlier this year in Gqeberha, it was done with great fanfare including a visit from the state president.

Understandably so, the launch had been postponed several times because the world had gone mad since Covid-19 and, when things eased up, the industry faced many challenges, among them shipping and chip shortages. It seems to be easing up as the industry slowly returns to some kind of normal, and that can only be a good thing.

A good thing also is the Isuzu D-Max 1.9 Ddi Double Cab LS we recently had on test.

There’s a slew of options, ranging from a humble workhorse single cab through to the executive-type V-Cross 4x4.

The LS double cab sits almost in the middle of the range and having spent a week driving it under varying conditions, I reckon it’s all you need in a double cab.

The LS features Isuzu’s new 1.9-litre Ddi engine that produces 110kW and 350Nm of torque. It is coupled to either a six-speed automatic or six-speed stick shift in the case of our test unit.

In shimmering red, the D-Max makes a statement. What I appreciate about the design is that Isuzu didn’t decide to go completely left-field and introduce a whole new shape (although there’s only so much you can do with a double cab). It has kept to the basic Isuzu look that’s seen it become a hallmark of the South African bakkie landscape, with the LS fitted with 17-inch alloys and black side steps.

Inside, there are enough creature comforts to keep you happy, with a smattering of plastic, leather, “brushed aluminium”, and white stitching.

The only concern I had was the material used on the top half of the door panels which felt like it wasn’t as hard wearing as the rest of the interior and could start to look tacky over time.

The rest of the cockpit comes with a seven-inch touch-screen infotainment screen that’s Bluetooth compatible and offers wi-fi connectivity, with USB ports in the front, rear view camera and tilt and telescopic adjusted steering column.

For those long trips, there’s lots of nooks and crannies to store things like house keys, wallets, phones and general paraphernalia that seems to always get in the way.

You don’t have to worry about a key fob because in the LS, you use an old-fashioned key to turn the ignition, something that older generation drivers will appreciate.

Turn said key and the unmistakable clatter of the oil burner can clearly be heard before it warms up to a pleasant idle.

Having driven automatic test cars for quite some time it felt good to be pushing in a clutch again, although I found first gear to be incredibly short and, more often than not, pulled away in second gear. If you’re not going to be towing (unbraked 750kg and 2100kg braked) or heavily loaded, I would probably opt for the automatic version.

The driving position is high and comfortable, which turned out to be an advantage when a driver on his phone in the Pretoria CBD decided he needed to fly across three lanes to turn left at the last moment. I can also attest to the ABS working flawlessly.

On highways with the cruise control, the D-Max provides a comfortable drive even when unloaded. Here, again, I’d opt for the auto, especially when towing or loaded. In the suburbs, it takes care of potholes and speed bumps with ease, although there is a tendency for the rear to bounce if you tackle them too briskly.

On badly corrugated dirt roads, it tended to be a little loose and because our test version was rear wheel drive (with rear diff lock) ,the front would drift slightly which shouldn’t be as pronounced with a bit of weight in the loadbay. It’s not unique to the D-Max but is also prevalent on almost all ladder-frame bakkies.

With a host of safety features, such as EBD, Brake Assist, Electronic Stability Control with traction control, Hill Start Assist, Hill DEscent Control and Trailer Sway Control, you’re well covered if things do happen to go awry.

At R520 800, the Isuzu D-Max 1.9 Ddi Double Cab LS is everything you need in a double-cab bakkie and, unless you’re going to be doing regular and long distances on sand and dirt driving, the rear wheel drive is fine.

You might baulk at the 1.9-litre engine,but, again, do you really need the extra power for day to day driving? And best of all, it returned figures of 8.3l/100km, dropping down to just under 8l/100km at 120km/h during highway cruising.

It comes with a five-year/90 000km service plan and a five-year/120 000km warranty and roadside assistance.

Customers have the option of extending the standard service plan up to a maximum of six years or 200 000km. Alternatively, the service plan can be upgraded to a full maintenance plan that covers the vehicle for planned and unplanned maintenance up to six-years/200 000km.

Isuzu D-Max 1.9 Ddi LS Double Cab

Price: R520 800 (September 2022)

Engine: 1.9-litre, 4-cyl, turbodiesel

Transmission: 6-speed manual

Drive: Rear-wheel drive

Power: 110kW @ 3600rpm

Torque: 350Nm @ 1800-2600rpm

Fuel use, freeway: 7.9 L/100km (tested)

Payload: 1 120kg

Kerb weight: 1 820kg

Towing capacity: 2100kg (braked)

Fuel tank capacity: 76 litres

Warranty: 5-year/120 000km

Service plan: 5-year/90 000km

IOL Motoring

Related Topics:

BakkieCar ReviewsIsuzu