Meet the prop-forward
We drove the excellent new Isuzu D-Max back in April 2017. Powered by Isuzu’s new 1.9 litre diesel engine, it was not noticeably lacking in power compared to the previous 2.5 unit fitted across the range. The only model not available at launch, fitted with the new engine, was the D-Max Arctic, which made it’s way to CC&V towers recently.
The wilderness specialists Arctic Trucks have produced with the AT35, the “Arnold Schwarzenegger “ of the pick-up sector. This is not a pick-up for the shy or faint hearted, coming as it does pumped up to the max. If you want tho nabber noticed then this truck i s for you.
Available only as a double-cab, the Arctic comes supplied with Icelandic-style 35″ Nokian Rotiiva tyres, extended wheel arches, body & suspension lift, wider side steps & an attitude best compared to that found at a heavy-weight boxing weigh in.
Based on the latest D-Max, the AT35 comes with a five-year / 125,000-mile warranty. Running costs are kept down by 12,000-mile or 24-month service intervals, five years’ roadside rescue & recovery including European cover, a three-year paint warranty & a six-year anti-corrosion warranty.
The key design changes on the latest D-Max range, include a new front bumper, bonnet, grille & headlights with LED daytime running lights. The front of the pick-up has a wedge-shape which delivers a more aerodynamic silhouette & the roof has been designed to reduce drag by 0.4% versus 15MY D-Max by directing airflow over the tailgate, thereby improving fuel economy, performance & the level of cabin noise. Stop press, this isn’t as quotable in the AT35, the wheel arches alone will decrease fuel efficiency.
At the rear, the tailgate has been reshaped with a spoiler design moulded into the top section and features a newly designed handle.
The interior of the new-generation D-Max has also been updated.The instrument panel has been redesigned with an updated central display & clearer font. Additional USB ports have been added to the lower centre dash & rear of the centre console across the range (except Utility). The Arctic is generously equipped with a Pioneer media & SatNav system, heated leather seats, keyless entry, climate control & cruise control.
The piano black cabin of the D-Max comes well laid out & I found all of the controls easy & comfortable to use. The quality inside is okay- there;s no soft touch plastics on offer- & the new infotainment system with larger touchscreen is definitely an improvement over the last model. There’s plenty of room in the front for both driver & passenger. Storage is good too, with two water storage pop-outs in the dashboard, decent sized door pockets & a useful glove-box. On top of the dash there’s also a pop-up storage area & above your head drop-down storage to put your sunglasses as well. You can get 3 adults in the rear, but whoever sits in the centre seat may not want to be there for long, as with all pick-ups, especially when unladen, it’s bouncy in there & the tyres fitted to the Arctic make this even more noticeable.
Jump into the cabin & adjust the electric drivers seat to get comfortable & away you go. There’s no reach adjustment for the steering wheel, on rear diff lock & disappointingly, Isuzu haven’t changed the diff ratios in the auto box from the standard model, which becomes very noticeable when the 6-speed auto-box groans & roars it’s way from 60 -70+ mph.
Around town, the AT35 rumbles along taking pot-holes in it’s stride. It’s sheer bulk means finding a town centre parking spot can be tough & on rough tarmac, of which there is a lot local to me at present, the all-terrain tread & 35” tyres bounce you around a bit. In a straight line on the motorway it’s fine, allowing one to cruise happily at 70mph. A trip across the Pennines to Leeds, shows up the problems with this auto-box, which doesn’t cope well with inclines or lorries in the middle lane. The AT35 gets past eventually, but not nearly as well as the standard D-Max Blade or Utah.
A short off-road test, proved what I knew already, that the Arctic is simply awesome in the muck. I’d love to try it on sand, but wet grass, mud & the recent arrival of the ‘Beast from the East’ proved no problem to the Arctic. Isuzu quotes a 44 degree approach angle, 24 degree departure angleZ& a 32 degree ramp-over angle. Ground clearance at the rear axle is measured at 290mm, which is 55mm more than the standard D-Max & the wading depth is 700mm.
A week of driving fun & not making any efforts to drive conservatively, saw me return an acceptable 26.3 mpg, when the claimed is much higher at 36.2mpg. With CO2 emissions of 205g/km, it’s not Sadiq Khan friendly either & with an entry level price of £37,995, it’s expensive too.
In conclusion, the AT35 is a blast to drive & makes other road users nervous due to it’s presence on the road. Cost wise, it’s up in the Mercedes-X-Class & VW Amarok price range, whilst not offering any of the car-like benefits & better balance between off-road & soft-road motoring that these pick-ups come with.
If you want the Monster Truck experience, then the AT35 is as close as you’ll get on UK roads. Undoubtedly a beast off-road if a little harsh on-road.
A Jump Around 3/5.
Price from £37,995 + VAT
Engine 1898cc 4-cyl turbodiesel Transmission 6-speed auto
Power 164ps @ 3,600rpm Torque 360Nm @ 2,000-2,500rpm
Top speed 112 mph
Claimed combined economy 36.2 mpg CO2 205 g/km
Dimensions 5295 x 2170 x 1980 (LxWxH)