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Isuzu D-Max Arctic AT35; a monster bakkie so imposing most cars move away when they see it approach

While city driving in the aggressively-styled Isuzu D-Max Arctic AT35 proved enjoyable for young motoring scribe Prashirwin Naidu, the humorous part was that most cars moved away when they saw this monster bakkie approach.

Rugged, stylish, and bold, the new Isuzu D-Max Arctic AT35 has a ‘wow’ factor that makes you want to go off-roading. Alas, there’s much too much to do when one works remotely. Still, it was a pleasurable experience taking this lovely Isuzu bakkie through the inner city in the past week.

Up close in the metal, this beefed-up bakkie is wonderfully menacing. The imposing flared wheel-arch extensions, gorgeous 17-inch black alloy wheels fitted with thick, rubbery 35-inch BF Goodrich all-terrain tyres, and unique Arctic Truck mud flaps give it a sturdy presence.

Based on the top-of-the-line D-Max V-Cross 4×4 and locally manufactured at Isuzu’s Struandale plant in Gqeberha, South Africa’s Eastern Cape, this bakkie is a cool R1,120,620. Of course. It’s cool if you have that amount somewhere under the mattress. For that, you get quality and more.

Additional exterior modifications include wider-profile side steps and AT35 chrome badges on the front fenders and rear tailgate. A standard 18-inch spare wheel is fitted underneath the rear load box, accompanied by a ResQ puncture repair kit for easy mobility in case of tyre damage. This is a winner, given our pot-hole haven, our beloved South Africa.

City slickers who don’t go off-roading will love the Arctic AT35’s purpose-designed lift kit that increases ground clearance from 232mm to 266mm and raises the vehicle height from 1,810mm to 1,875mm. This also boosts the maximum wade depth to 865mm, making it ideal for challenging terrains. Try me a river?

The imposing flared wheel-arch extensions, gorgeous 17-inch black alloy wheels fitted with thick, rubbery 35-inch BF Goodrich all-terrain tyres give Arctic AT35 a sturdy presence.

The suspension system is complemented by Bilstein dampers, which are designed to balance on-road comfort and off-road performance. It does not disappoint.

Stepping into the cabin, naturally, it feels familiar to the D-Max X-Rider, with no flashy interior enhancements—just simple and solid design. Plush leather seats embroidered with the AT35 logo, a multi-display digital instrument cluster, and a nine-inch infotainment system compatible with Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay provide a comfortable and connected experience. The cabin also includes an inductive charging pad and advanced driver assistance systems.

Advanced safety features include forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, attention assist, lane departure warning, lane departure prevention, lane keep assist, and emergency lane keeping.

Additional safety measures include front and rear parking sensors, rear cross-traffic alert, rear radar, and Isuzu’s multi-collision brake function, which automatically applies the brakes when the airbags deploy.

The Arctic AT35 has multiple airbags, including dual front, side, curtain, driver’s knee, and a far-side airbag to prevent front seat occupants’ heads from contacting each other during a collision.

It’s fitted with nine-inch infotainment system compatible with Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay.

Under the hood, the Arctic AT35 is powered by Isuzu’s reliable 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. This powertrain delivers 140kW and 450Nm of torque to a part-time four-wheel-drive system, offering the option of two-wheel drive for on-road use or four-wheel drive (high and low) for off-roading excursions. For challenging terrains, the driver can engage an electronic rear differential lock.

City driving proved an enjoyable experience. The humorous part was that most cars moved away when they saw this monster bakkie approach. Despite its rugged exterior, it was balanced for daily commutes in and around the city, offering smooth and tranquil on-road manners and returning an average of 9.7l/100km. But, of course, this bakkie was engineered for the Arctic!

When considering rivals, the Ford Ranger Raptor is a key competitor. It is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0 V6 petrol motor and priced at R1,184,100. Additionally, the new Volkswagen Amarok, based on the Ford Ranger, is a strong contender in this segment. The Amarok Aventura, with its potent 3.0 V6 turbocharged diesel, can be yours for R1,105,000.

The Isuzu Arctic AT35 comes with a five-year/90,000km service plan, a five-year/120,000km warranty and roadside assistance, and a five-year/unlimited distance corrosion warranty. 

I wish I could have gone somewhere in the natural wilds of Africa – than a few puddles and potholes.


*This article is exclusively written for NOWinSA by motoring contributing writer Prashirwin Naidu.  © Higher Education Media

Prashirwin Naidu
Prashirwin Naidu
Aspiring scribe, Prashirwin Naidu is a writer focusing on cars and the arts.
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