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Isuzu previews next-generation D-Max ute

Teaser video shows off new Isuzu D-Max mechanically related to incoming Mazda BT-50

Isuzu logo7 Oct 2019

ISUZU has given ute buyers their first taste of the third-generation D-Max, releasing a teaser video that previews the design of the new model which shares its underpinnings with the second-generation BT-50 as part of a joint venture with Mazda.

 

Set to be revealed in Thailand on October 19, the new D-Max sports more aggressive but instantly familiar exterior styling, with its front end punctuated by a larger grille insert that is dechromed on the example shown but retains the Japanese brand’s signature double horizontal louvres.

 

The D-Max’s headlights also appear to have shrunk and picked up LED bulbs, while the indicators have been moved to each foglight assembly, which is now vertically stacked. A front skid plate can also be glimpsed.

 

The rear end is largely shrouded in mystery, although the tail-lights have adopted a three-dimensional look. The teaser video also suggests that the tailgate’s ‘Isuzu’ lettering has been deleted.

 

Inside, higher-quality materials are out in force, with the dashboard topped with stitched vinyl, while gloss-black trim is prominent throughout.

 

However, the biggest change depicted in the cabin is the infotainment system that now supports Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring at minimum, addressing a longstanding criticism of the D-Max.

 

The ute’s plasticky centre stack has also been ditched in favour of with a more premium set-up that includes metallic switchgear, while the D-Max’s gear selector is now trimmed in leather.

 

Off-road enthusiasts will likely be pleased to see that the D-Max will be available with a rear differential lock – a key feature that the current model lacks.

 

Isuzu’s ‘Ddi’ family of turbo-diesel engines will continue to serve, although questions marks remain over which version will be sold in Australia, which is the only market in the world to offer the existing 3.0-litre unit (Euro 5) that could carry over, perhaps with a bump to its output of 130kW/430Nm.

 

Alternatively, 1.9-litre (Euro 6) and 2.5-litre engines are offered in other markets, but Isuzu Ute Australia (IUA) has been at pains to point out the local appeal of the larger unit that was thoroughly upgraded as recently as 2017.

 

While it did not feature in the teaser video, a suite of advanced driver-assist systems, including autonomous emergency braking, is expected to be added to the D-Max, which should put in the frame for a five-star safety rating from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).

 

Given that the incoming D-Max’s reveal is set for later this month, it is likely that international sales will start next year.

 

Details on the box-fresh BT-50 are harder to come by, but it is expected to be about 12 months behind its latest twin under the skin, having previously been based on the Ford Ranger’s architecture.

 

As reported, the BT-50 will adopt a tougher version of Mazda’s Kodo design language, which will go some way to modernising a model that has been on the market for eight years and counting.

 

The D-Max will also lead to a new-generation MU-X large SUV, with the seven-seat off-roader set to become even more passenger-friendly in order to increase its mainstream appeal.

 

Sales of the D-Max have backtracked this year, with 12,299 examples sold to the end of September – a 7.8 per cent decrease over the 13,346 deliveries made during the same period in 2018, which is in keeping with the new-vehicle market’s overall 7.9 per cent decline.


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