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Isuzu mulls D-Max range expansion

Level up: The X-Terrain is currently the flagship D-Max grade and could form the basis for a Ford Ranger Raptor rival.

Top-spec Raptor rival, entry-level fleet grade possibilities for Isuzu D-Max range

13 Aug 2020

ISUZU Ute Australia (IUA) is exploring the possibility of introducing a top-spec, off-road-enhanced version of its all-new D-Max pick-up to rival the likes of the Ford Ranger Raptor and Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior.


Speaking to journalists at the Australian launch of the all-new, third-generation D-Max, IUA director Yoshi Yoshida said the company was monitoring the popularity of the flagship pick-up in Australia, which could influence their decision create one of their own.


“We see that the competitors like Warrior and Raptor, some customers really like those vehicles,” he said.


“We will keep monitoring that demand and we are also studying if that kind of vehicle is really appreciated by the market or not.


“So yes, we are having that study internally, but at this moment no clear plan to introduce such a vehicle.”


The all-new D-Max range is topped by the X-Terrain dual-cab variant which includes a number of visual enhancements over the rest of the range, and competes with the likes of the Ford Ranger WildTrak, Toyota HiLux Rogue and Nissan Navara N-Trek.


However a Raptor or Warrior competitor would have to go through a series of mechanical enhancements, be it upgraded suspension, increased power or off-road-enhanced body kit and accessories.


It remains to be seen whether IUA would conduct research and development in-house like on the Ranger Raptor, or whether it could lean on a third-party company like Nissan Australia did when it teamed up with Melbourne-based outfit Premcar for the Warrior.


The new-generation D-Max’s revised 3.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine now produces 140kW/450Nm (identical to the Navara Warrior), but would require performance enhancements to match the torquier 2.0-litre twin-turbo-diesel unit in the Raptor, which manages 157kW/500Nm.


IUA would also be able to draw upon its genuine accessories catalogue, which contains over 50 items at launch.


At the other end of the D-Max range, the entry point to the line-up could be dropped further if IUA choose to introduce the smaller 1.9-litre turbo-diesel found in European examples to increase the D-Max’s value proposition.


The D-Max has historically performed strongly in 4x2 sales, finishing second in 2019 with 5116 units behind the Toyota HiLux (11,324), and also placing runner-up in 2018 with 5324.


Currently, the D-max range starts at $32,200 plus on-roads for the 4x2 SX single-cab, however introducing the smaller engine could potentially drop the price to under $30,000.


Mr Yoshida would not comment on whether IUA would introduce the smaller engine, however he acknowledged the company was keeping an eye on market trends.


“We are still monitoring the market if there is such a demand or not, but at this moment we are not in a position to comment on that,” he said.


In other markets, the smaller engine produces 120kW/360Nm, and could make a more affordable and efficient option for buyers who don’t need to the full 140kW/450Nm of the 3.0-litre unit.


The new-generation D-Max goes on sale in Australia at the start of September.

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