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BLADE RUNNER (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
The ultimate 'Blade' version of Isuzu's D-Max pick-up is the flagship variant in the standard range. Jonathan Crouch drives the improved version.
Ten Second Reviewword count: 107
If you'd like an Isuzu D-Max pick-up, then the chances are that you'd like a very well-equipped and stylish one. A model in fact, like this Blade version, which offers a smarter interior and extra equipment. As before, it comes with a choice of six-speed manual or five-speed auto transmission and either a roller top cover or a full leisure canopy. Plus you get eighteen-inch alloy wheels, side steps, tinted windows, heated leather seats, a DAB stereo and a touch screen nav system. You get a very plush pick-up indeed then, yet one that, priced from under £27,000 [ex VAT] , isn't too much of an indulgence.
Backgroundword count: 124
Isuzu's D-Max has carved itself a useful niche in the pick-up market, mainly thanks to the way its brand has listened and responded to the needs of likely buyers. Take this version, the Blade. It was first introduced in early 2014 to demonstrate the lifestyle potential of this pick-up, a whole host of extras included at an attractive asking price. Customers liked the proposition, so Isuzu has further refined it into the form we look at here, which now delivers arguably the smartest cabin in the class, along with a few little extra touches to make ownership feel that little bit more special. Will it all be enough to convert the undecided? If not, it's hard to see what more Isuzu could have done.
Driving Experienceword count: 222
This Blade model gets the same fuel efficient 1.9-litre twin-turbo common rail diesel engine as you'll find fitted across the rest of the D-Max range, offered with a choice of either six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmissions. This advanced Euro5-compliant unit generates 164PS along with a lusty 360Nm of torque at just 1,400 rpm. Get off the beaten track and, as usual with this model, you've the flexibility of a clever 'shift-on-the-fly' system, allowing the driver to adjust between two and four-wheel drive modes while travelling at speeds of up to 60mph. The front suspension arrangement is a proven independent double wishbone with coil-spring set-up, while the rear suspension is made up of leaf-springs installed above a special long span rear axle. Tough and fit for purpose in other words, though Isuzu also claims this system to offer better driving comfort. Under the skin, as with the brand's previous pick-ups, the D-Max is built on a rugged ladder-framed chassis, but the similarities end there. The i-GRIP (or 'Isuzu Gravity Responsive Intelligent Platform') underpinnings of the D-Max are 42% stiffer than those of this model's predecessor, the Rodeo, helped by improved cross bracing at the rear, which offers superior stability under load and when towing. On that subject, you get a 3.5-tonne (braked) towing capacity, to go with a payload capacity of 1,000kg.