There was a time in South Africa when Isuzu’s bakkie advertising carried powerful imagery of Japanese Samurai warriors who exuded tradition, strength, precision and a sense of pride and honour.
But while this messaging spoke distinctly to the Asian manufacturer’s renowned vehicle production capabilities and quality, one would have been hard pressed to find a South African motorist who would not claim Isuzu as one of our own.
AS ASIAN AS IT IS AFRICAN
After all, and having celebrated its 40th anniversary in the South African market in 2018, Isuzu is now well on its way to notching up half a century of domestic production and service in some of Africa’s worst — and best — conditions.
EXTRA SPECIAL EDITION
Isuzu’s powerful legacy came to the fore again this week when the Port Elizabeth-based commercial and light commercial vehicle specialist announced the introduction of a special edition D-Max 3.0 TD Double Cab X-Rider Automatic.
While this exciting expansion of Isuzu’s D-Max and more specifically its X-Rider range, will no doubt find purchase with Isuzu loyalists and attract new interest in the brand, it is worth remembering that Isuzu is the dad of double cabs — having been the first brand to introduce double cab bakkies into South Africa.
And as a firm favourite both off and on South African roads in cities, farms and in the bush, Isuzu has endured through decades of economic, market and corporate changes and challenges since it was first introduced in 1978.
Firmly founded in its manufacturing and assembly facilities in Port Elizabeth since the late 1970s, the brand — through the legendary KB series (the forerunner to the globally-used D-Max nameplate) — also made catalytic and heroic contributions to South Africa and neighbouring countries.
HEROIC HERITAGE: OPERATION RACHEL
Perhaps among the most notable of these was Isuzu’s highly acclaimed involvement in Operation Rachel: An important initiative to clear weapons and ordinances from Mozambique in the wake of its civil war — not only to save the lives of ordinary Mozambicans, but also to stem the flood of those weapons into South Africa.
It is against this background and its tough, workhorse heritage that Isuzu revealed how far the brand has come when it unveiled its muscular yet refined new automatic double cab this week.
BAKKIE OF THE BAY
In a heart-warming return to its original routes in Port Elizabeth, the images of the 3.0 TD X-Rider were shot in Nelson Mandela Bay and most in settings situated within easy reach of both the company’s current production facilities in Struandale and its former historic plant in Kempston Road.
Announcing the new X-Rider derivative, Isuzu Motors South Africa (IMSA) said the model was now available with a three-litre diesel engine and six-speed automatic gearbox
AN AUTOMATIC CHOICE
“The X-Rider nameplate has quickly established itself as a popular model within the Isuzu D-MAX line-up, offered with the 2.5 HO diesel engine. This year Isuzu is taking things further with the introduction of a special edition D-MAX 3.0 TD Double Cab X-Rider Automatic,” said IMSA.
And, according to IMSA executive for Technical Services Dominic Rimmer: “The X-Rider nameplate, which was first introduced in South Africa as a limited edition model in 2016, has been a great success for us. Until now, we have only offered the X-Rider as a midrange vehicle available with the 100 kW 2.5-litre engine.
“Based on the popularity of the X-Rider, we felt it would make sense to match this nameplate with our most powerful engine, while retaining the attributes which make the X-Rider so popular. The three-litre X-Rider has an imposing presence on the road with a rugged and sporty look which sets it apart from regular D-MAX models.”
The 3.0 X-Rider Automatic is powered by the familiar four-cylinder 130 kW turbo diesel engine from Isuzu. Matched with a six-speed automatic gearbox, max power output is reached at a low 3 600 rpm, with max torque of 380 Nm between 1800 and 2800 rpm.
INSIDE AND OUT
X-Rider comes standard with a black roof rails; black sports bar with Red X-Rider logo; black running boards; eight-inch AX2 Radio with multifunction colour touchscreen; black tailgate handle with rearview camera, and a 3.5 ton towbar.
The seats are covered in black partial leather with red stitching. The 3.0 TD X-Rider is available in just three colours; Summit White, Switchblade Silver, Pull Me Over Red.
The vehicle rides on standard 18-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels on all terrain tyres and 18-inch all black alloy wheels are available as a no-cost option.
WHAT DOES IT COST?
“The 3.0 TD Double Cab X-Rider Automatic slots in below the standard 3.0 Auto LX which retails for R515 478.25 (excl. VAT), while the 3.0 X-Rider comes in just R58 000 more than the 250 HO Double Cab X-Rider Auto which retails for R421 043.48 (excl. VAT). This is great news for customers who like the X-Rider look, but want the benefit of the added pulling power of the more powerful four-cylinder three-litre engine,” said IMSA.
Pricing for the special edition D-MAX 3.0 TD Double Cab X-Rider Auto starts at R479 217.39 (excluding VAT)
The three mid-range X-Rider derivatives continue as part of the Isuzu D-MAX model range with prices (excluding VAT) as follows:
- 250 HO Double Cab X-Rider R405 652.17
- 250 HO Double Cab X-Rider A/T R421 043.48
- 250 HO Double Cab X-Rider 4×4 R451 478.26