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X marks the spot with the new Isuzu D-Max X-Rider

Compared to standard Isuzu D-Max derivatives, the X-Rider injects vibrance and excitement into what is typically perceived as a practical workhorse bakkie, writes Prashirwin Naidu.

South Africans, renowned for their love of robust and versatile bakkies, are in for a treat with Isuzu’s latest offering—the Isuzu D-Max X-Rider.

This model represents the third generation of the X-Rider series and introduces a new level of edginess, sportiness, and lifestyle appeal.

Derived from the graceful currents of the Isuzu River near Japan’s revered Ise Grand Shrine, the name “Isuzu” carries a poetic resonance that adds to the vehicle’s allure.

At first glance, the D-Max X-Rider captivates with its attention to detail. Every aspect exudes curb appeal, from the vibrant red Isuzu badge to the two-tone colour front bumper and sleek LED headlamps. Adding a sports bar, 18-inch diamond-cut wheels with all-terrain tyres, and X-Rider badges enhance its rugged yet refined aesthetic.

Stepping into the cabin, simplicity meets sophistication. The user-friendly interface with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility and multiple USB ports ensures a seamless driving experience. Striking red accents adorn the interior, from the ombre dashboard insert to the matching stitching on the gear lever and X-Rider floor mats.

The plush leather seats, embellished with X-Rider badging, and the smooth leather-wrapped steering wheel elevate the experience with comfort and style.

Eye-catching design: the X-Rider injects vibrance and excitement into what is typically perceived as a practical workhorse bakkie.

Beyond aesthetics, the D-Max X-Rider offers a comprehensive suite of amenities, including a 6-speaker audio system, multifunction steering wheel, cruise control, manual air conditioning, rear parking sensors with a reverse-view camera, stability control, hill start assist, and seven airbags.

Compared to standard Isuzu D-Max derivatives, the X-Rider injects vibrance and excitement into what is typically perceived as a practical workhorse bakkie.

Under the hood, the D-Max X-Rider is powered by a burbly 1.9-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine, which delivers 110 kW and 350 Nm of torque. It has enough pulling power for the everyday trek and the occasional off-roading stint. However, towing capabilities would be a qualm due to lower outputs. It makes up for it with its delightful fuel economy, achieving 10l/100km in urban settings; I also must note that it sipped fuel, and the full tank struggled to go down, which left me impressed throughout the week of testing.

Since it is built on a ladder frame chassis, it results in some wriggling about in unfavourable road conditions, but it does feel sturdy off-road. Perhaps the thick all-terrain rubber wrapped around 18-inch wheels aids in a softer commute and is well-balanced enough for traversing any terrain.

On the drive, the cabin is well-insulated. The only sound is the addictive acoustics of the diesel motor, which some may or may not like.

One can choose between 4×2 and 4×4 configurations. The 4×2 variant offers both manual and automatic transmission, while the 4×4 derivative comes exclusively with an automatic transmission, which I sampled.

With prices ranging from R640,500 for the 4×2 manual variant to R740,700 for the 4×4 automatic model, the D-Max X-Rider offers excellent value for money, backed by a 5-year/120,000 km warranty and a 5-year/90,000 km service plan.

Simplicity meets sophistication: striking red accents adorn the interior, from the ombre dashboard insert to the matching stitching on the gear lever.

The Isuzu D-Max X-Rider is a noteworthy bakkie—simple and easy-going. However, I urge consumers to do their due diligence in sampling many other bakkies in this highly competitive segment to see what fits their lifestyles and needs. It’s also important to look at every aspect before taking ownership of a vehicle; the long-term value of the D-Max is a favourite among the market and has sold bucketloads in substantial numbers.

In this segment, the D-Max faces off against the Ford Ranger, which is a peach to drive, the ever-popular Toyota Hilux, Nissan Navara, Volkswagen Amarok, which is essentially a Ford Ranger beneath the bonnet, and the GWM P-Series, which I’m not a big fan of. It has terrible suspension and needs refinement. I also want to round off the bunch with the outdated Mitsubishi Triton and Peugeot Landtrek, which I don’t see anyone driving, sadly.  

The Isuzu D-Max X-Rider has style. It boasts an eye-catching design. Furthermore, it has superb on-road manners. Finally, competitive pricing is poised to set new standards in the double cab bakkie segment. Whether tackling daily commutes or embarking on weekend adventures, the Isuzu D-Max X-Rider can conquer any challenge confidently. Give it a try!


*This article is exclusively written for NOWinSA by motoring contributing writer Prashwin 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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