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There are pick-ups and there are pick-ups, but the Isuzu XTR offers something different with its distinctive looks; it could have just arrived off a film set. This offering from Isuzu has definitely got something of a Mad Max touch and during the week I had it on test it, attracted more than the usual glances.

Despite the cosmetics though, underneath it is a very formidable vehicle and one which will be appreciated by many. Isuzu, of course,  is no stranger to this sector of the market, with the first D-Max introduced back in 2002 and it has become a firm favourite in the agricultural sector and business sector of the market and not to forget the leisure market. I tend to think that the stronger market for the XTR will be in the leisure sector and I can see it in race circuit paddocks such as Mondello Park and Kirkistown and indeed, being used by those who indulge in a variety of leisure pursuits. The pick-up has become something of a fashion statement and within the Isuzu line-up is the XTR, and it has the looks and the road presence. Certainly in the North American markets, the pick-up is very often the choice of transport.

According to Isuzu, the XTR has been developed for off-road enthusiasts and drivers who want a vehicle to complement their lifestyle, this professional pick-up boasts authentic capability with a bespoke Pedders suspension upgrade as standard and it is adorned with a sophisticated body kit and aggressive styling. XTR sits between Blade and Arctic Trucks, very much completing the adventure range of Isuzu D-Max pick-ups. Power is by courtesy of a 1.9 litre four cylinder diesel engine with 161bhp, performance is rest to 100kph (62mph) in 12.7 seconds and my test example had an automatic transmission and off road capability aided by selectable drive modes and a locking diff. No getting away from it, when the going gets tough and rough this pick-up is more than capable.

The Isuzu D-Max is already renowned for being tough, strong and reliable but this existing capability has now been taken to the next level with a bespoke Pedders suspension and brake system engineered specifically for XTR. Under normal road driving conditions I found the ride acceptable. A new front suspension upper arm in conjunction with newly designed damper units help achieve a longer suspension articulation, giving impressive off-road performance and suspension height is set higher than a standard D-Max meaning XTR benefits from a 250mm ground clearance with no compromise in vehicle handling and stability. Stopping performance is courtesy of new performance front brake discs which have been designed for a consistent brake pedal feel, high wear resistance and better anti–corrosion protection and are fully vented and slotted for improved heat dissipation and braking. Kevlar ceramic front brake pads work in combination with the discs to give a much improved braking performance and stopping power. The XTR moves on seventeen inch alloys which have a heavy duty, rigid design and there is no compromise the vehicle’s towing and load carrying capabilities. (Importantly for some, the XTR retains its superior 3.5 tonne towing ability.)

Returning to the style department, the XTR features a dramatic front bumper guard, bonnet protector and headlight frames, imposing wheel arch extensions with the lozenge shaped insert, provide the first flash of vibrant green colour coding that is repeated throughout the pick-up. A rear bumper and tailgate spoiler complete the body kit which is Raptor coated in a durable black finish. Black door mirror covers and black door handles complement the body kit and tinted rear windows provide a dark aesthetic appearance. Colour choices are Splash White, Titanium Silver Met, Obsidian Grey Mica and Cosmic Black Mica. These colours have been chosen to work with vibrant green colour coding that has been incorporated in select components of the suspension and brake system. Creature comforts when it comes to the interior are very much on par with a well specified saloon or hatchback aided by a double cab with such items as heated front sports seats, flat bottomed sports steering wheel which has been moulded for comfort and grip. Sat Nav and phone connectivity add further to the appeal of this very impressive pick-up. Today, of course, more and more buyers demand full connectivity to keep in touch whether it is for business or leisure.

Ian Lynas

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