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Sunday, 23 September 2018
SIZE really does matter when it comes to this week’s drive: the wonderfully named Isuzu D-Max Arctic Trucks AT35 — an explanation of which I shall come to in a moment.
But first, to demonstrate the humungous size of this vehicle — an SUV (sport utility vehicle) pick-up of great character and wondrous proportions — I took a photograph of it beside an old red Post Office telephone box.
Now, without straying too far into anorak territory, the telephone box I found in a wayward Cotswold village was a K6 — the most common of those still found in Britain.
It stood just over 8ft tall. (Be warned that measurements here are in “old money” because I am old-school myself.)
In its stocking feet — giant AT Nokian Rotiiva tyres fitted to 17in alloy wheels — the Isuzu D-Max Arctic Trucks AT35 stood 6ft 6in tall.
This is within a whisker of the height of your average US National Basketball Association player. (Between 1985 and 2006, NBA players’ average height was around 6ft 7in.)
So you can see that by any estimation this Isuzu D-Max Arctic Trucks AT35 is a big fellow. It is a vehicle not to mess with.
The name — Isuzu D-Max Arctic Trucks AT35 — intrigued me. I had already driven Isuzu D-Max pick-up versions including the brilliantly named Blade and Fury models.
The D-Max Arctic Trucks AT35 goes one better. The name conjures up long odysseys across barren ice wastes.
In fact, its antecedents live up to expectation. Each AT35, based upon the D-Max pick-up vehicle, has been extensively “enhanced”, says Isuzu, by Arctic Trucks — a company with a 25-year-history in Iceland and Scandinavia building 4x4 vehicles able to take on the most gruelling of conditions.
So the AT35 is the “most robust and capable pick-up that Isuzu UK has ever created”.
It has real punch, too: the AT35 retains the 2.5-litre twin-turbo diesel engine of the D-Max line-up that delivers deep-down, unassailable torque (pulling power).
Indeed, Arctic Trucks says that “any off-road journey can be completed without the assistance of a winch or other rescue materials”.
This can be achieved by deflation and inflation of those big specialist tyres — helped by the AT35’s on-board inflation kit.
In certain frozen weather conditions, says the truck’s maker, the tyres are “so bulbous they can even allow the car to float on light snow slush”.
For your average punter, that is, your correspondent, you have to literally step up to take on the D-Max Arctic Trucks AT35.
Getting into the driving cab requires a smart hike up into the cab, a firm grip on a handle above the door, and a steady swing into the driver’s seat.
The combined effect of Arctic Trucks’ new suspension and larger tyres is a ride height 125mm higher than that of the standard Isuzu D-Max pick-up. All of which is to the driver’s and passengers’ advantage. Suddenly, you are above the crowd and can see clearly over hedgerows.
This would make a great touring vehicle. You would have no trouble towing just about anything in the caravan category (the Isuzu D-Max Arctic Trucks has 3.5-tonne towing capacity).
On the open road, the engine performs well even though you might think it more at home in an icy wilderness than a British motorway.
The sixth gear of the manual transmission is high, so you have to be rolling at a fair speed to get comfortably into top gear.
However, fourth and fifth gears are more than adequate for most on-road driving. Around town, this big beast is a pussycat.
I actually enjoyed parking it in tight spots because, despite its size, the Isuzu D-Max Arctic Trucks is highly manoeuvrable. Essential, though, is the rear parking distance sensor.
Inside, too, the D-Max comfort seems to have been ramped up. So you get reclining front seats in leather upholstery. There is a leather steering wheel, heated front seats, and heat adjustable front headrests — all the attributes of what used to be called “prestige” vehicles, now more common in pick-ups whose heritage once was no grander than as utility workhorses.
Any vehicle of this ilk that has a large diesel engine is probably on notice now that there is a coming crackdown on diesel-powered vehicles on health grounds.
One Conservative minister has suggested motorists should consider buying a
low-emission vehicle rather than spending their money on a diesel.
And with Europe falling out of love with diesel, it is difficult to see where big diesel SUVs will be in future.
That may be a difficult choice facing fans of such vehicles — like myself — of pick-ups such as the Isuzu D-Max Arctic Trucks in coming years. But for now you have to admire its sheer muscularity and road presence.
Isuzu D-Max Arctic
Trucks AT35 TFS86 Man
cycle (38.7 mpg)
CO2 emissions: 192 g/km
RDS radio/single CD
with iPod/USB/Bluetooth connectivity
Six speakers which
include two Exciter
Standard equipment includes:
l Door-open warning light
l Front, side and curtain airbags
l Height-adjustable front seatbelts
l Three-point rear seatbelts
l Insurance-approved immobiliser
l Remote central locking
l Rear parking distance sensor
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