|The new Isuzu D-Max - and friend!|
Launching a new vehicle into the marketplace is not simply a matter of sticking a few journalists in the machine and hoping they will write nice things about it. There is the issue of motivating and training dealers and getting some of the bigger customers and fleet buyers to come and have a look away from the office and away from other distractions.
Because of all that, the manufacturer tries to make the launch event memorable so that this too will influence opinion. Not that a bunch of cynical commercial vehicle journalists could be swayed by such obvious tactics, but it does impress the dealers and potential buyers.
|Ambitious - eh?|
On that basis, the theme for the Isuzu D-Max pickup launch was ‘Top Gun’. The airline theme was enhanced by the used of inflated hangar style marquees at Fairford while at the off-road venue, a challenging course had been laid out to assess the abilities of the ‘Top Guns’ who would be driving the pickups. Over the course of the next ten days, 93 dealers and staff would be invited on a daily basis plus a host of customers, but the press went first!
Isuzu staff were resplendent in their own corporate uniforms, but the event support staff girls were in very smart, bright red hostess style tailored suits while the guys were in one-piece aviator flight suits and all wore aviator style shades!
|Base model with steel wheels|
The only trouble was, the sun was beating down relentlessly on the aerodrome tarmac and on the limestone quarry where the off-road course had been laid out. It was hotter than a small Hammond in the Masai Mara. This led the driver instructors at the quarry to modify the dress code to try and keep cool - underneath the flight suits most of them were ‘au naturel’.
As for the pickup it’s certainly an improvement on the previous Rodeo. It’s longer and wider which makes for a more roomy cabin and the new 163 hp, 2.5 litre twin turbo engine with 6 speed gearbox did everything that was asked of it. But don’t go thinking this is a civilised urban warrior, the ride is very firm although the seats soak up the worst of it. That’s because this pickup is more suited to work than showing-off. Whereas some other manufacturers have aimed their pickups primarily at the leisure and lifestyle market, Isuzu continues to address the needs of farmers, forestry workers, construction firms and utility companies.
And yet, stick half a tonne in the back and the D-Max is transformed. It rides like a kiddies’ bouncy castle.
So if you want a vehicle that will work hard for its keep, yet double up as acceptable family transport at the weekend, the new D-Max is well worth a look.
Prices start from fifteen grand going up to twenty two (plus VAT) but the clincher is – a 5 year warranty. No other pickup manufacturer can match that.
Tomorrow I’ll put up some pics from the off-road course.