First Drive: Isuzu D-max AT35

Date: Thursday, September 29, 2016   |   Author: James Dallas

Despite a raft of new product coming to market, Isuzu has made sure the D-max has kept a high profile in the pick-up sector by launching a steady stream of limited editions, such as the Centurion to mark the brand’s centenary, and new trim levels like the sporty Fury.

The new Euro6 D-max will arrive in the second quarter of 2017, but in the meantime we have the Isuzu D-max AT35 – the ‘AT’ stands for Arctic Truck, its Icelandic converter (and it’s fair to say there’s nothing quite like it on the market), while the ‘35’ refers to the giant, 35-inch wheels.

The AT35 is based on the flagship D-max model the Utah and is equipped for extreme off-road use, although William Brown, Isuzu’s UK general manager, believes it will also have considerable appeal to lifestyle customers who will love its larger-than-life presence.

The AT35 is offered as an extended cab for £30,999 (all prices exclude VAT), a double-cab six-speed manual for £33,499, and as a double-cab five-speed auto for a £1000 premium.

Like the rest of the range it will come with Isuzu’s 125,000-mile/five-year warranty but will only be sold through 36 selected dealerships, which will receive special training in its distinctive abilities.

Patrik von Sydow, chief executive of Arctic Trucks, says with its tyres deflated the truck can effectively float across terrain such as snow, mud or sand. Brown says the AT35 will appeal to expeditions (including Arctic or Antartic explorations), professional end-users in the utility sector (where it can operate in the harshest regions of Scotland, for example), mountain rescue, and the aforementioned leisure sector.

When it comes to sales, he admits it’s a “finger in the air job” but hazards a guess they could reach up to 150 a year.

We tested the AT35 double-cab auto on a challenging off-road course at the Millbrook Proving Ground testing facility and found it could cope with extreme climbs and descents, waterlogged ditches, piles of logs and even a series of 12-inch high stone steps. It can generally reach the areas that are out of bounds to even the most rugged 4x4 pick-ups available.

Not surprisingly, on-road the ride leaves plenty to be desired in the comfort department, but this is a vehicle designed to excel in the most arduous conditions.

The AT35 retains the 1.0t payload and 3.5t towing limit of the rest of the D-max range, which is class-leading alongside the Ford Ranger, Nissan Navara and new Toyota Hilux.

Arctic Trucks has re-engineered the D-max’s suspension for the AT35 with Fox Performance Series dampers, which helps deliver increased mobility over rutted tracks and boulders. All-terrain Nokian Rotiiva AT tyres endow the AT35 to provide improved grip in slippery conditions. The 35-inch tyres are specifically engineered for off-road use and are fitted to 17x10-inch alloy wheels. The vehicle accommodates the larger-diameter tyres and wheels within widened wheel arches, giving the AT35 a planted and powerful appearance. The AT35 has a ride height 125mm higher than the standard D-max; the increased ground clearance offers greater approach, departure and break-over angles.

The AT35 sits 55mm higher than a standard double-cab D-Max, making for six degrees’ extra approach angle gain, Isuzu claims, and an added 10 degrees ramp angle flexibility [chk!]. The raised seating position enables drivers and passengers to benefit from improved all-round visibility in difficult off-road environments.

 

Isuzu D-max AT 35 2.5 163hp Auto
 
 
Price (ex VAT) £34,499
Price range (ex VAT) £30,999-£34,499
Insurance group tbc
Warranty 5yrs/125,000mls
Service intervals 12,000mls
Load length 1485mm
Load width 1110/1530mm
Load bay height 465mm
Gross payload 1050kg
Engine size/power 2499cc/163hp
On sale August
Combined fuel economy 38.7mpg
CO2 192g/km
 

Verdict


An extreme off-roader with unrivalled go-anywhere ability that may also appeal to customers looking to stand out from the crowd.

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