We started the day in Maidstone in Kent, left the hotel we had stayed in overnight and set off in a fleet of Isuzu -D-MAX Pick-ups Double Cabs. For the first part of the journey I was on the rear seat, and did expect it to be a bumpy and uncomfortable ride, being in a truck, with truck suspension. But it was better than I expected, not bad at all, not sure if I would have said the same if I had travelled back up home the 240 miles to Huddersfield sat in the back, but it really wasn’t as I had expected.
Isuzu only makes trucks, no cars, just trucks of varying sizes, and because they only know how to make a truck, and don’t have to share components with cars, like some other manufacturers have to, then everything is ‘over-engineered’ made to last, and be capable of anything asked of it. The D-MAX has been on the market since 2002 and since then has been improved, and improved constantly. A couple of years ago, Isuzu took the controversial decision to drop the 2.5-litre diesel engine, and replace it with a more economical 1.9-litre diesel: shock, horror, thought many. This was done for many reasons, mainly due to emissions and other technical factors. The farmers threw their hands up, shook their heads and said it wouldn’t work. We did the launch of the new 1.9, and Isuzu did have the 2.5 there as well, and it did prove to be far superior in every aspect than the good old 2.5. Since then it has sold well, including to hardened farmers, and Isuzu have never looked back, or the farming fraternity.
After the road trip, we went to a farm where there was an off-road course, including some fairly steep uphill and downhill sections, through a small river and through some tight wooded areas. The D-MAX was more capable of doing much more dynamic testing, and only did a fraction of what it was really could do off-road, it was all pretty tame for this 4x4.
It has a system that allows you to put it into 4x4 Low, and will go up and hill, down any hill, whatever the gradient, and you don’t touch any pedal, the car automatically finds the right speed and finds the right amount of traction, all you have to do is steer it, all clever stuff, and does give you the confidence in the vehicle.
After the farm, it was back on the road, and a short drive to the Import Centre at Sheerness. The cars arrive from the factory in Thailand at the docks, and are transported the short distance to the Isuzu compound. This is a fairly new facility, and everything has been thought out in great detail. They have leaned over the years to leave bigger gaps between the vehicles, both at the side, and front and rear, as this causes less damage, with doors opening, especially when its windy, as the wind can catch the doors, and causes small dents. And the wind can certainly blow near the coast in Kent. We also went up in a cherry-picker and I must say the cars were parked immaculately and not an inch out of place.
There is a ‘no-blame’ policy in place for all the drivers if a car gets accidentally damaged. It is up to the driver to report immediately any damage, so it can be repaired, and not left until the car is sold and ready to leave the centre, when a panic is likely to happen.
Isuzu now offer a one-stop-shop for all conversions, and these conversions are wide and vast. Most of the conversions are done on-site, either by Isuzu staff, or more frequently by the converters themselves. But if it is converted on-site, with the full approval of Isuzu, then it has the full 125,000, 5-year warranty.
Some of the conversions we saw, ranged from just a tow-bar, a rear-canopy, right up to Access Platforms (cherry-pickers), full recovery vehicles, fully-kitted out Police vehicles, Fire-engines, tippers, and fully equipped workshops. Basically, as Isuzu said, if you have a problem, we can fix it, they will build just about anything that anyone wants.
Isuzu is really a little know manufacturer to most, but those who do know them, do really like them, and understand what they do, and what the vehicles are capable of.
A great day out, and I learned so much, very interesting and informative.
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