Lifestyle & Ultimate Lifestyle pick-up customers are growing both in number & importance. Whilst pick-up sales have increased in recent years, it’s actually been the more expensive models that have really driven this growth, with the likes of Ford’s top-of-the range Ranger Wildtrak & Nissans Navara Tekna accounting for 60% of each brand’s pick-up sales. Although Isuzu have the Blade as their ‘lifestyle’ model, the brand came to realise that they were missing out on sales at the top of the sector & decided to build an new range-topping bespoke D-Max, the XTR.
Developed for off-road enthusiasts & drivers who want a vehicle to complement their lifestyle, the XTR sits between the Blade & AT35 Arctic Truck, completing the Adventure range of Isuzu D-Max pick-up’s.
The XTR features a number of improvements over the Blade. There’s a new suspension height that is set 250mm higher than a standard D-Max. New performance front brake discs have been designed, which are fully vented & slotted for improved heat dissipation & braking. Kevlar ceramic front brake pads work in combination with the discs to give better braking performance & stopping power. The XTR’s springs & shock absorbers have been tuned to complement the XTR’s new 17″ alloys. Pedders suspension is also included, working with the XTR’s wheels & the Pirelli Scorpion™ All Terrain Plus 265/70R17 tyres fitted to the range
In order to grab customer’s attention, a custom designed XTR body kit has transformed the standard D-Max exterior. There’s a new front bumper guard, bonnet protector, headlight frames & wheel arch extensions. The rear bumper & tailgate spoiler is Raptor coated in a durable black finish. Black door mirror covers & black door handles complement the body kit & tinted rear windows provide a dark aesthetic.The XTR’s side steps have an angular bar framework and lozenge shaped infill which acts as a drain point for mud, sand & snow.
There are four colour options; Splash White, Titanium Silver Met, Obsidian Grey Mica & Cosmic Black Mica. This colour palette has been chosen to work with vibrant green colour coding that has been incorporated in the front coil spring & damper, front brake caliper, rear anti-roll bar & rear dampers on the XTR.
Isuzu haven’t ignored the interior. The heated front sports seats are upholstered in leather, suede & carbon fibre leather with contrast green overstitching on the side bolsters. Leather also features on the headrest’s, lower seat base & upper seat back. The D-shaped sports steering wheel is trimmed in leather & suede with green overstitching, the steering wheel materials match the seats exactly, with each bespoke XTR steering wheel individually finished with green overstitching that is sewn on by hand.
The dashboard layout will be familiar to existing D-Max customers, with a centrally located 7″ multifunction colour touchscreen. The infotainment system features eight speakers, Bluetooth, connectivity, DAB radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, SatNav with front & rear USB ports. Driving aids include ESC, Trailer SwayControl, ABS, EBD, Brake Assist System, Hill Start Assist & Hill Descent Control.
The Isuzu D-Max XTR retains it’s 3.5 tonne towing capacity, whilst the fuel tank holds 69 litres of diesel. There’s also no need for Ad Blue. The rear load bay measures 1.552 m x 1.530 m x 46.5 cm with a maximum payload of 1101 kg.
Our XTR adventure began in Chester, where I was accompanied on the drive by a professional driver to help me through the days tasks. Inside the XTR, both driver & passenger have plenty of room. The drivers seat only adjusts fore & aft, but I was still able to get comfortable. Storage is good, with two water storage pop-outs in the dashboard, two 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 feel a touch squashed.
The first 30 mile’s or so were spent driving on the motorway & then on some B roads, as we headed to a forest for the first of the days trials. As with the standard D-Max models, the XTR drives pretty well on road, although the 1.9 diesel engine is perhaps a little more gruff than some of the competitors unit’s.
The forest off-road track we tackled was designed to demonstrate the XTR’s capabilities, especially the longer axle articulation & the extra 25mm of ground clearance with greater approach & exit angle’s. The forest circuit featured mud, sand, grass & water obstacles, plus steep mud banking, natural tree stumps & a collapsed brick wall. We were able to take advantage of the Isuzu’s shift-on-the-fly 4WD system, with the standout Hill Descent Control taking the XTR down some steep inclines. Even though the D-Max lacks a locking rear-diff, the Isuzu traction control system did not miss a beat & the XTR tackled al of the obstacles comfortably.
Next up, after an hour’s drive through the Snowdonia National Park, the challenge was a quarry off-road circuit. The XTR got to show-off off it’s capabilities climbing to the top of the mountain based site across gravel tracks & slate slopes. We descended via similar terrain & some deep water, as once again the 4High & Hill Descent Control proved their worth.
We undertook the day’s tasks in the auto version of the XTR, whilst on the return journey, we got to try out the six-speed manual version, which we found it be more than capable. However, if you’re driving your pick-up on road most of the time, then the auto version on any pick-up is usually preferable, taking the hard work out of the equation.
Whether you want a pick-up for work or for play, the addition of the XTR to the D-Max range, now give’s the Isuzu brand a model to compete with the lifestyle models on offer from it’s competitors. The fact that it looks sexier than any other D-Max, whilst retaining the model’s capabilities when tackling the tough stuff, will surely tempt some to try one out.
Company Car & Van came away very impressed. We have always considered the D-Max to offer the best all-around model range for pick-up customer’s & the XTR only enhance’s this.
A pick-up Love Island 4/5