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My admiration for the pick-up came not in Armagh, Fermanagh or Donegal but on the other side of the Atlantic in Alabama, North and South Carolina while on a number of press trips with Mercedes and BMW. There, this vehicle has become more lifestyle than simply a workhorse, I could even say quite trendy and it has beaten sedans (saloons) in terms of sales; it is reckoned that around one in six vehicles sold in the US are pick-ups. Although since the rise in popularity of the SUV, the pick-up has faced a new challenge. True to state that the pick-up is truly a global vehicle, commonly known as Utes in Australia and New Zealand, while in some African countries Bakkie is the name. Of course the original use of the pick-up in the early 1959s was purely that of a work vehicle, a decade on and the Americans had changed its primary role to lifestyle vehicle.

Here in Ireland, the pick-up is very much a workhorse in industry and farming and with the advent of the double cab, it took on a dual role, washed down after a day at work and it for many took on the role normally filled by the family car and on occasion you might spot one in a motor racing circuit paddock. Today the pick-up has all the creature comforts we expect from a saloon, hatchback or SUV and recently I spent a week with the latest offering from Isuzu. In the early days of automobile manufacturing, vehicles were sold as a chassis only, and third parties added bodies In 1902, the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company was founded by Max and Morris Grabowsky who built one-ton carrying capacity trucks in Pontiac, Michigan and in 1913, the Galion Allsteel Body Company, an early developer of the pickup and dump truck, built and installed hauling boxes on slightly modified Ford Model T chassis. These were a far cry from the Isuzu which I spent a week with and little did the Grabowskys know what was to follow. I could not have has a better seven days with the worst weather of the winter to date to be reunited with the D-Max and it was just the ideal means of transport amidst the very icy conditions; it certainly brought home to me just how good a vehicle this Isuzu really is.

Yes foremost it is a workhorse and it comes with a number of creature comforts akin to an SUV, hatchback or saloon. I really did appreciate the use of cloth upholstery, the heated seats which reached max temperature rapidly and for the little night time driving which I did, the automatic headlights with high beam assist. I must also mention the infotainment system; nothing sophisticated, but very functional and no need to revert to a handbook or the internet to discover how to operate; other manufacturers take note- please keep it simple. The air conditioning of the manual variety was simple to operate and did its job. In order to make the drive more enjoyable, cruise control is part of the package and with the D-Max being of generous proportions I really appreciated the rear parking sensors more than ever. Under the bonnet 164PS of diesel power allied to a sturdy manual transmission withy six gears and a fast engaging shift-on-the-fly 4WD system, making the DL20 which I tried a D-Max for all seasons and all weathers. The rear diff lock can only be engaged in 4L at a very low speed. Towing capability is up to 3.5 tonnes and the ability to take a payload of one tonne.

Performance is acceptable for this type of vehicle, rest to 100kph (62mph) in 12.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 180kph (112mph). I must point out the drive quality is good as I discovered on a par with many passenger vehicles and I must not forget the double cab does give this Isuzu a twin personality. Yet again Isuzu claimed Pick-Up of the Year from the industry experts at What Van? Just one of many awards, making it the fifth time in the last six years that the D-Max has taken the title.

Ian Lynas


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