2016 Isuzu D-Max V-Cross review, test drive

    The Japanese UV maker finally brings one of its current-gen products to India, and it’s a fun and unique, albeit super-niche proposition.

    Published on Jul 15, 2016 05:00:00 AM


    What’s it like to drive?

    Isuzu is quite proud to admit that, in India, the brand is known more for its engines than the cars they power. The 2.5-litre, longitudinally mounted in-line four is the same one we sampled in the previous D-Max and it produces 136hp and 320Nm. Compared to other engines you typically find in such ladder-frame-vehicle applications – the likes of the Innova, Fortuner, Endeavour, Trailblazer, Pajero Sport, Scorpio, Safari and Aria – those numbers might not look very impressive, but this motor’s strength isn’t its outright power.

    Like in any of those cars, firing it up results in a loud growl and a lot of vibration from the gearlever, but then it settles down into an impressively refined idle and stays that way at low to medium revs. The clutch is relatively light too, and though the gearlever is typically tall, it’s quite easy to slot into gear. Then the real beauty of this motor starts showing – it’s super smooth getting off the line, and it builds revs so effortlessly. It’s flexible too, rewarding unpredictable throttle inputs with uninterrupted power. Yes, the powerband isn’t all that wide, but you won’t care; because all that torque comes in so nice and early, you won’t want to stay in a single gear too long. Even the transition between gears happens smoothly and without a hiccup in power. In fact the clean power delivery and good refinement make this enormous pick-up truck quite friendly to drive in town, believe it or not.

    What takes away from this city-friendly experience, though, is the hydraulically assisted steering. It needs too many turns lock to lock and it’s rather heavy at low speeds, which only magnifies its massive size when you’re trying to park or manoeuvre through gaps. It’s also quite vague around centre, but again, all this can be expected in a tough pick-up truck like this. And speaking of tough, the suspension is exactly what you’d expect to find in a mix of SUV and commercial vehicle – independent double wishbones at the front, and a load-bearing leaf spring setup at the rear.

    The ground clearance is rather generous and the suspension, like on many ladder-chassis cars, is on the softer side. With nothing stored in the luggage bed, the rear is very light and so tends to hop and skip over bumps, more so as you go faster, and you’ll feel this more in the back seat. It might even make sense to just load the rear with some dead weight when you don’t have anything to transport. Bump absorption from the big, 60-profile tyres is pretty good and the front springs offer quite a lot of give when you get caught off guard by a speed bump. You do get some kickback through the steering over rough patches though, bear in mind. Out on the highway, this 1.9-tonne truck will hold its line quite fervently, and apart from a little bit of float at seriously high speeds, it really feels at home on the Mumbai-Pune run. One more point of note – though the brakes feel strong enough in everyday use, step on them just a little harder, and the ABS cuts in very aggressively, and could make you feel more nervous than secure in a sticky situation.

    Push it around a corner, and of course there’s loads of body roll and a fair bit of resistance from the slightly loose steering, but do you really want to attack corners in a pick-up truck? No, what you want to do is go everywhere as the crow flies, and the big Isuzu truly makes you feel like you can. We’re on road-biased tyres now, but slap a set of off-road tyres on it, and the V-Cross would be truly unstoppable. A rotary dial lets you flick easily between 2WD, 4WD High and 4WD Low (if you have to scramble over some serious rocks), all of which work very effectively. The tough bash plates, the good ground clearance and good visibility simply take care of the rest.

    Isuzu D-Max V-Cross
    Isuzu D-Max V-Cross

    ₹ 19,68,243 * on road price (New Delhi)


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