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Isuzu capitalises on I-Venture

Adventure time: Isuzu Ute Australia has launched a new owners club, called the I-Venture Club, that is open to D-Max and MU-X customers.

Growing its business with a feel-good owners club is top priority for Isuzu

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Isuzu logo27 Mar 2015

ISUZU Ute Australia (IUA) is investing heavily in boosting its profile Down Under, and has this week announced its latest strategy to increase brand awareness with the launch of the Isuzu I-Venture owners club.

It is a different pull at the heart strings of vehicle buyers, backed by a doubled marketing budget for the Japanese ute and SUV-maker.

While the D-Max and subsequent MU-X seven-seater SUV have been borne from the 'Spirit Of Truck' mantra, harking back to the heavy duty vehicles of the same name, the new direction - 'Go Your Own Way' - aims to get families and younger buyers over the hesitation of buying an Isuzu.

IUA deputy general manager of marketing and PR Mike Conybeare said the aim was to put Isuzu into the heart of the buyers.

"Once people get to know our product (they) realise it's fantastic,” he said. “It's a mindset that with some brands there's still a sense of hesitation. If we get them in the dealership they like the product, but they ask 'can I buy an Isuzu?' and we're hoping the I-Venture club ... and the new campaign will change that." With promising growth in web, dealer and test-drive enquiry, the brand's marketing team wanted to be more than just a company that sells vehicles, instead selling a lifestyle involving tough models for people choosing a different path.

IUA assistant general manager marketing and PR Dave Harding said its customers were buying the car first and then asking about going off-road.

"They were not wanting to join four-wheel drive clubs that were too hardcore, while looking for ways to learn without holding others back, so that's why we came up with a way to give people a chance to learn the basics and go out and do it themselves," he said.

Run by experienced 4WD trainer David Wilson, the owners club will be available to Isuzu owners across Australia, initially offering day-long training trips with plans to expand to overnight, weekend and special event off-road trips.

Mr Wilson said Australians driving appropriate vehicles still had remarkable access to spectacular places and the I-Venture club offered chances to explore them.

"Ninety per cent of 4WDs don't go off-road,” he said. “This is a chance for people to get out there in a D-Max or MU-X and put it into the environment it's designed for. You can see some incredible places." The program runs through a dedicated microsite and start-up programs cater for 12 customer cars per event, with two people per car at a cost of $250 per car.

The basic course formed the program for sampling the new limited-edition D-Max X-Runner utility, sporting city-biased body add-ons and some additional decals but maintaining the rugged "old-school" off-road ability for which the brand is already known.

A day-trip traversing the sandy trails and beaches of Moreton Island typifies the sort of instruction to be received by new owners joining the Isuzu family.

Education on the proper tyre pressures and safe sand-driving techniques was imparted by two-way radio through the convoy, with regular stops throughout the drive to advise on techniques for getting out of trouble.

The proper 4WD underpinnings of the D-Max X-Runner and its MU-X wagon sibling were tested - but by no means tortured - throughout the day, with genuine low range and lower tyre inflation making short work of soft sand.

All vehicles were equipped with sand-friendly five-speed automatics and while the torque figure of 380Nm falls short of the peaks of the several of its opponents, a decent torque spread from the under-stressed turbo-diesel drivetrain made it lazily effective.

Ride quality for an unladen utility was far from the worst in the segment and engine noise ranked similarly the cabin materials also fall into a similar position, but the improved sat-nav touchscreen set-up and the full-sized USB input are welcome improvements.

Fuel economy not reaching beyond 10 litres per 100 kilometres during the day's driving was worthy of mention, particularly given the terrain was far from conducive to frugal figures.

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