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Isuzu D-Max V-Cross First Drive Review

· Automotive

In an exorbitant market where manufacturers are facing perhaps the hardest time in finding an authentic buyer for mainstream cars, Isuzu Motors has launched the latest iteration of their pickup truck, the 2019 D-Max V-Cross. As history recalls, there is no denying that the previous generation of the D-Max had an impeccable street presence – luring heads all over the city. But it had a few misses and pitfalls, which the new mid-life makeover, certainly tries to fix upon.

The Isuzu D-Max has always been a niche product, for a segment that’s barely known to some. In fact, as we drove in the streets of Delhi for our tests, the Isuzu did an impressive job in prying eyeballs, as it still remains unknown to many. So, with this new update, the Isuzu gets a new feature-loaded Z variant, and yes, now it also comes with an automatic transmission. So, here’s a glance from our Isuzu D-Max V-Cross First Drive review.

So, what’s actually changed?

Since the D-Max V-Cross gets a mid-life makeover, the styling – and hence, the silhouette – remains more or less unchanged from the model it replaces. On the face, the Isuzu now gets brighter LED projector headlamps, and chrome detailing in the fog lamp inserts. In profile, the 18-inch alloy wheels are a welcome change over the puny 17-inchers. The shoulder crease now loses out on the big chrome insert, and it’s replaced by much conventional and subtle chrome door handles.

The rear-end is essentially the same story. The reverse parking camera makes its presence felt, as it was sorely missed out on the previous model. However, the Isuzu still misses out on rear parking sensors, which in my opinion, should be mandatory for a vehicle of this prodigious size.

As for the added equipment, the pickup truck now gets electrically adjustable driver’s seat and a host of electronic aids such as hill hold assist, hill descent control, traction control and stability control. The Isuzu also boasts new leather upholstery, with a sporty all-black layout.

In case of the automatic, the Isuzu D-Max V-Cross Automatic, that proudly flaunts the Z Prestige insignia – boasts six airbags (as opposed to two on the Z variant) and plusher leather upholstery. But, how do they behave on road? It’s time we find out.

Driving manners

In essence, the Isuzu D-Max V-Cross behaves – or rather drives – identically as its predecessor. The Z variant continues to be powered by the same 2.5-litre diesel that’s good for 132bhp and 320Nm of torque. However, Isuzu has introduced a new 1.9-litre turbo-diesel that is capable of 148bhp and 350Nm of torque. We had a chance to test the Isuzu in both the powertrains. So, let’s start with the manual, shall we?

Powered by the 2.5-litre engine, the driving dynamics of the Isuzu remains largely unchanged. Considering its sheer size, the Isuzu – thanks to the light clutch – gains momentum fairly quickly and easily. The impressive bottom-end means the car remains to be a delight in start-stop traffic. However, with short gear ratios, the Isuzu demands frequent gear shifts, which can be a bit tiresome at times. But that’s where the automatic comes in play.

The transition to the automatic and the very first thing to admire are the plusher leather seats. Start the engine, and the NVH levels seem to be a notch lower than the 2.5-litre oil burner. Engage the drive mode, and the Isuzu starts to gain momentum at a medium pace. The six-speed automatic gearbox is adequately smooth, and the gearbox works in a relatively smooth manner until you decide to go pedal to the medal. Unlike the manual, driving the automatic in city is exceedingly smooth. On highway too, the gearbox works very well, and making way through trucks or slow vehicles is a breeze. However, you have to plan overtakes as the gearbox takes quite some time to pull a sudden downshift.

The ride quality, on the whole, is set on the stiffer side. The passengers at the rear should expect a choppy and inconsistent ride. But then again, you cannot expect to be chauffeur-driven in a pickup truck, would you? The steering, on the other hand, is heavy at lower speeds while it instils a sense of confidence at higher speeds. So, the Isuzu scores well when it comes to driving dynamics.

Verdict

On the whole, the Isuzu D-Max V-Cross is a very impressive machine. The drivetrain is purely functional, there’s a lot of excitement behind the wheel and with the added raft of features, it scores well in comfort too. Add a massive street presence to the picture, and the D-Max V-Cross is almost impossible to beat. It certainly is a welcome addition to a market previously seen to be delivery mid-size urban SUVs. However, it also has a few pitfalls of its own. The diesel engines aren’t very refined, the ride is bumpy and the sheer size means it isn’t very easy to drive in track-filled streets of Delhi. But in the end, nothing is perfect, right? And even if you end up buying one of these, you won’t regret it, not even a bit. To read our extensive Isuzu V-Max D-Cross review, be sure to tune in to autoX.

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