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Beefy new Isuzu D-Max revealed

New ute: The next-generation Isuzu D-Max will arrive on our shores from the second quarter of 2012.

Isuzu D-Max ute joins Colorado on the Thai launch pad for 2012 debut in Australia

7 Oct 2011

ISUZU has revealed details of its new-generation D-Max ute, just days after General Motors unveiled the related Chevrolet Colorado that will be sold under Holden badges in Australia from about March next year.

Images show that the Isuzu version will get different sheet metal forward of the A pillars and rear of the cabin – including more macho wheel arch flares – compared with the Colorado, but the core of the vehicle, including the roof and the doors, appears to be common.

And like the Colorado, the D-Max gets a massive injection of safety, graduating from just dual airbags in the current range to six – including curtain airbags – in the new model, along with electronic stability control (ESC) across the range.

The D-Max is just one of several new utes descending on the Australian market, with the recently arrived all-new Ford Ranger and facelifted Toyota HiLux set to be joined by the Mazda BT-50 and Holden Colorado before the D-Max hits our shores in 2012.

Announcing details of the new model, Isuzu Ute Australia (IUA) said it would arrive in Australia in the second quarter of next year in single, space and crew-cab body styles, all powered by the carryover 3.0-litre, 130kW/380Nm four-cylinder diesel engine.

GM employed that Isuzu-sourced engine in the current Colorado, but has indicated it will be ditched in favour of GM’s all-new 2.8-litre diesel producing similar power – 132kW – but a lot more torque – 470Nm.

10 center imageLeft: Chevrolet Colorado. Below: Current Isuzu D-Max.

Four-cylinder and V6 petrol engine options are also likely to be offered in the new Colorado that, like the D-Max, will be built for Australia in Thailand, but at a different plant to the Isuzu version.

The Isuzu one-tonner will get a new five-speed automatic transmission as an option to the carryover five-speed manual gearbox.

Australian pricing for the D-Max range will be announced closer to launch, when it will replace the current model that started life in Australia as the Holden Rodeo in 2006 before Isuzu and GM went their separate ways in 2008.

IUA managing director Yasuhiro Takeuchi said the news of the new generation D-Max represented a new and exciting chapter for IUA and the Isuzu D-Max brand.

“With growing competition in the dynamic light commercials marketplace we are excited to be bringing this brand new vehicle into showrooms next year,” he said.

“I am confident that this vehicle will be well received by the Australian marketplace and will live up to the core values that the Isuzu D-Max is synonymous with – durability, reliability and economy.” Isuzu said the new D-Max is bigger than its predecessor, affording greater cabin space and easier rear-seat access in crew and space-cab models.

While the press release gives few specific dimensions, it points out that a longer wheelbase of 3095mm – 45mm longer than before – is now standard on all three body styles.

The company said the D-Max as launched in Thailand is indicative of what Australian customers will get.

It describes the new styling as more modern, delivering “a more aggressive on-road stance”.

The D-Max gets more storage spaces and a new audio system in the newly designed dash, with standard Bluetooth and portable music player connectivity.

As before, the D-Max rides on a rugged ladder-frame chassis, freshly developed with GM.

The frame includes improved cross bracing at the rear, improving stability under loads and while towing, while also “ensuring long-term durability when used regularly in harsh environments”.

Apart from ESC and ABS, the D-Max gets emergency brake assist and electronic brake distribution, with the latter detecting the payload weight and modulating the rear braking force to compensate.

A seven-seat, five-door wagon built on the D-Max chassis, which was previously for the Thai domestic market only, is thought to be under consideration for Australia and could follow soon after the D-Max.

Isuzu Ute has been one of the quiet achievers over the past few years since it split with Holden in Australia, with sales climbing 27.7 per cent this year over 2010.

Armed with just one nameplate – D-Max – the company has shifted 4672 one-tonne utes this year, more than 3700 of them in popular 4x4 guise.

It is on target to achieve 6500 sales this year – a 21 per cent increase over last year’s 5114 units, and has medium-term goal to double its local volume.

It is currently ranked eighth in light commercial vehicle sales, outselling rivals such as Great Wall and Volkswagen.

Recent sales have been helped by special editions, loaded with extra gear to keep the ageing light truck soldiering on.

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