Why has the D-Max been so successful?
Posted Wednesday, June 13 2012 at 17:43
The Isuzu KB, popularly known as the D-Max, is on the final leg of its now overstretched tour of duty. It was therefore only befitting to give it a final drive to find out why it has been so successful in many markets.
The car started its life 40 years ago as Isuzu KB20 and 25 Faster also renamed by GM as Chevrolet LUV. LUV by the way has nothing to do with being lovely, but stands for Light Utility Vehicle.
What has made it so successful despite the competition? Perhaps the no- frills design and durable ‘‘hard as nails’’ construction.
Or is it its powerful guttural engine that growls even when there is no threat? Now, unfortunately, the threat is real. The competition has launched modern products and its replacement is only months away from the market.
The best way to understand and appreciate a product is to investigate how, why, and for who it was created. I had the opportunity of visiting the GM plant that produces various products including the D-Max pickup. While technology is a good thing, its pace can sometimes intimidate users.
The Isuzu D-Max, despite being relatively low-tech, is able to deliver kilometres of service at very low running costs. This is important for the entrepreneur looking to improve the bottom line.
While it may not be able to compete as a luxury utility pickup, it finds its place on farms and factories and getting engineers around the country.
The current three-litre engine fitted in the D-Max is way ahead of the body and suspension that carries it around. It scared me to drive because it did not stop as confidently as I would have liked.
That is because the local version has been striped down to the bear metal and plastic and is devoid of important safety features such as Anti-locking Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake Distribution (EDB), and air bags.
While I can confidently say that a ‘‘fully-loaded’’ Isuzu D-Max drives well, I cannot wait for its replacement due towards the end of next year. If you are ready to spend a little more you can get a really nice drive in the current 300KB D-Max.
The D-Max that I drive-test is compliant on the straights but shows its age at corners. Without a load, it’s suspension feels like a dhow in the middle of a monsoon storm.
Down a scenic route
We cruise down a scenic route in a convoy with little real opportunity to test the 2.5 litre engine fitted to the test cars. The large air intake on the bonnet helps to feed the intercooler, lowering intake air temperature by up to 23 per cent.
The Bosch VP44 electronic radial plunger distribution pump delivers more accurate fuel injection.
This in turn translates to fuel economy and lower exhaust emissions, improved acceleration performance, and better high-speed cruising ability especially at high altitude and temperature. At a claimed fuel consumption of 11,7 litres/100 km, Isuzu needs to rush the new model to the market. Off tarmac is where the Isuzu shines.