New models - Isuzu - D-Max
Driven: Refreshed Isuzu line-up checks in
Model-year updates to D-Max, MU-X to spur 10th year of double-digit growth
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20 Apr 2018
ISUZU Ute Australia (IUA) hopes its refreshed D-Max pick-up and MU-X large SUV can spur the Japanese manufacturer to its tenth consecutive year of double-digit sales growth since IUA was launched in Australia in 2008.
After 25,804 sales with 10.4 per cent annual growth in 2017, Isuzu has started 2018 with 5928 sales in the first quarter, a year-on-year jump of 31.9 per cent that can partly be attributed to supply constraints in the first quarter of 2017.
IUA managing director Hiro Kuramoto told GoAuto it would be a challenge for the company to sustain its prodigious growth.
“Last year we had some supply issues in the first three months of the year, so if you compare with last year, we have 30 per cent (growth), but actually we did very good – too good – last year, so we have to go over 10 per cent compared to last year, so it’s getting harder,” he said.
“Imagine if you get double-digit growth for nine years – it’s hard.”
Mr Kuramoto said he believed the MU-X could retain its 2017 title of Australia’s most popular ute-based SUV, but given the competitiveness of the large SUV segment, he was hesitant to say if it could climb higher than sixth place in the overall large SUV segment, where it finished last year.
In the first quarter of 2018, it has climbed to fifth place, above the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and below the Mazda CX-9.
Last year, the D-Max overtook the Nissan Navara for fifth place in the pick-up segment, and in 2018 it remains in fifth place, with the Navara leapfrogging the D-Max, and the Holden Colorado falling to sixth place, down from fourth.
Using feedback from customers and critics, IUA has given the D-Max and MU-X a light model year update, including permanently introducing the top-spec LS-T to both model lines and tweaking the leaf-spring rear suspension on certain D-Max variants.
SX, LS-U and LS-T dual-cab variants will become the first leaf-sprung utes in Australia to employ a new three-leaf set-up that replaces the old five-leaf springs. Isuzu says the new set-up improves ride comfort.
Already offered on some pick-ups in other international markets, the three-leaf suspension employs stronger and lighter materials, even allowing for a payload capacity increase of 100kg.
Gross vehicle mass (GVM) has been upgraded across the D-Max range to 2950kg for 4x2 variants and 3050kg for all-paw versions.
Other D-Max variants continue to employ the old five-leaf springs, while the MU-X rides on coil rear suspension.
The newly permanent top-spec D-Max LS-T had a number of upmarket flourishes that set it aside from its more utilitarian counterparts.
If the LS-T name is familiar, it is because Isuzu has previously offered the LS-Terrain as a special edition, and while previous versions were based on the LS-U and had extra bells and whistles added at the dealership, the new LS-T comes straight out of Isuzu’s Thailand factory.
Previous LS-Terrains were offered only with the 4x4 drivetrain, but the new version will also be offered as a rear-drive 4x2.
Offered solely with the six-speed automatic transmission, the D-Max LS-T checks in at $46,900 plus on-roads for the 4x2, and $54,700 for the 4x4 – $500 dearer than the old version.
LS-T’s seats are upholstered with perforated leather on body contact areas, and with polyurethane leatherette elsewhere. All other variants come with cloth seats.
The LS-T also gains 18-inch wheels, passive entry and start, and roof rails.
LS-T and LS-U benefit from leatherette on the dash, glovebox and armrest, plus gloss black trim on the air vents and window switches. Door handles are finished in chrome.
Also at the behest of customer feedback, all MU-X variants and all D-Max versions bar the SX gain two new 2.1-amp USB points on the dash and rear console for faster phone charging.
The D-Max’s colour palette has been expanded to include three new hues – Magnetic Red mica, Cobalt Blue mica and Graphite Grey metallic, while the MU-X gains just the Magnetic Red colour.
Minor price rises have been applied to both ranges, with D-Max prices up between $100 and $800, depending on the variant, while every MU-X variant has increased $100.
The D-Max range now opens from $28,600 for the 4x2 SX single-cab chassis manual, with the 4x4 LS-T the priciest.
The MU-X kicks off with the 4x2 LS-M auto from $42,990, while the 4x4 LS-T is the most expensive vehicle in the Isuzu range at $56,200.
Given that the D-Max and MU-X are popular choices for customers looking to tow a large load, all models bar the rear-drive D-Max SX single-cab manual now come with trailer sway control, which uses the vehicle’s electronic stability control to detect and mitigate unwanted trailer sway.
A rear bumper and reversing camera are also now standard across the range except for cab-chassis models, where both features remain optional.
Following feedback that 10,000km service intervals were too short, the intervals have been extended to 12 months/15,000km, while the five-year/50,000km capped price service intervals have been increased to five years/75,000km.
Overall cost for the first five capped-price services totals $209 – an average of $418 a service.
The range-wide five-year/130,000km warranty and five-year roadside assist remains unchanged.
Isuzu’s update line-up goes on sale on May 1.
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