We sat down with the Isuzu D-MAX for a little Q & A session and talked to this much-loved South African bakkie about who it is, where it comes from and the ins and outs from the bonnet’s tip to the tailgate.
Bakkie-driver: Mister D-MAX, what do…
Isuzu D-MAX: It’s D-Max, Isuzu D-MAX.
Bakkie-driver: Like 007?
Isuzu D-MAX: 007? No, no. This is all 380Nm of peak torque.
Bakkie- driver: Of course, Isuzu D-MAX. But that was not always your name, right? A lot of South Africans still refer to you – or still own your predecessor – the Isuzu KB.
Isuzu D-MAX: Ah yes, the good ol’ faithful Isuzu KB. I see them go past me time and again on the roads of South Africa and I just know those engines have clocked in a few thousand kilometres already. And boet, you better believe they’re still going strong, lugging around anything from livestock to kids, holiday dreams to entrepreneurial goals. But yes, Isuzu KB was my name but now I hail the Isuzu D-MAX, I’ve changed my name but not my stripes.
Bakkie- driver: Your stripes?
Isuzu D-MAX: Yes, my stripes. I still live up to my promise of maximum durability, maximum reliability and maximum capability.
Bakkie-driver: Now that’s a whole mouthful. But if we backtrack from the D-MAX, to the KB, how far does your story go back? When did it all start for you in South Africa?
Isuzu D-MAX: If I take a trip down memory lane nostalgia grabs me by my diesel heart. It was the year 1978, the same year former Springbok Rugby Captain John Smit, the first test-tube baby and the movie Grease saw the light that I made my debut in South Africa under the KB badge in Port Elizabeth where I’m still on the production line today.
Bakkie- driver: You’ve probably had a lot of milestones and highlights over the last 41 years?
Isuzu D-MAX: How much time do you have… because there were a whole lot of it-moments for Isuzu.
Bakkie- driver: I’m all ears.
Isuzu D-MAX: Well, Isuzu was the first to introduce a direct injection engine into the market, and in 1993 it was the first to introduce the much-loved double cab bakkies to the South African market.
Bakkie- driver: That is revolutionary.
Isuzu D-MAX: Indeed. And did you know that Isuzu holds 15 local endurance records? We were also the first to feature rack and pinion steering and independent front suspension plus the first to introduce a true body on frame bakkie derived SUV, my older cousin the Frontier, into the market in 1998?
Bakkie- driver: It’s no wonder so many die-hard off-road enthusiasts choose Isuzu for their 4x4 adventures.
Isuzu D-MAX: You know what they say when the tough gets going, the going gets in tough in an Isuzu. Sand, water, mountains, rocky terrain or smack bang in the middle of city traffic, I’m with my people for the long run you know. Adventure runs through my diesel veins.
Bakkie- driver: Has a lot changed over the last few decades for you?
Isuzu D-MAX: Oh yes, what started out as a 1.6-litre petrol engine or 2.0-litre diesel engine bakkie changed over 6 generations and now boasts the trusty 3.0-litre 4-cylinder turbodiesel, with six-speed manual and automatic transmissions. And there is also, of course, the D-MAX 250. Did you know the bakkie range spans an extensive portfolio comprising of 30 models for South Africa?
Bakkie- driver: That is extensive indeed. And what about modern technology?
Isuzu D-MAX: We’ve embraced modern technology with all four wheels, inside and out, top to bottom, bonnet to our proverbial bakkie-boot.
Back in the day we listened to radios, or put the golden oldie hits on a cassette tape, but today state-of-the-art technology allows us to connect the music from your phone straight to the bakkie. We went from struggling with paper maps to an integrated navigation system, from no phones, to cyborg-looking hands-free kits, to simply syncing your mobile with the bakkie and answering a call with the touch of a button on the steering wheel.
And let’s not forget the aerodynamic design and keyless entry… it is just another drop in our bakkie bucket of keeping up with the times.
Bakkie- driver: What goes through your diesel mind when someone gets into the driver seat?
Isuzu D-MAX: As soon as someone wraps their fingers around my steering wheel it is love at first touch. It makes me giddy with excitement you know? I get butterflies in my engine-stomach and as I roar I’m promising “I do” over and over again. I’m promising to be with you, for the long run. And I’m not only promising that to the driver, but to anyone getting in… even if it a bag of cement or a sheep or some Free State mielies.
Bakkie-driver: It sounds like you’re definitely making the moments count. But from lugging livestock to dropping kids off at school, how do you prefer to be utilised, or do you have any favourites?
Isuzu D-MAX: Each moment is as momentous as the next, whether I’m being used for a family vacation with kids jumping up and down with excitement or an entrepreneur chose me for running his or her business; every drive is memorable, every kilometre is a favourite.
Bakkie-driver: Sounds like you’re travelling along the lane of nostalgia?
Isuzu D-MAX: Over the years, my predecessors and I have seen kids grow up from their baby car seats to using us to learn how to drive, we’ve seen businesses starting out and thriving years later and we’ve seen the concern in a farmer’s eye in the middle of a drought and felt the dance of joy as raindrops hit the windscreen. We’ve seen it all, the ups and the downs. Life can be fickle for humans and the least we can do is to give them one less thing to worry about and just live up to the promise of maximum durability, maximum reliability and maximum capability.
Bakkie-driver: That hits home, thank you.
Isuzu D-MAX: Of course, any time. We’ve got you.
Bakkie driver: Any last words, Isuzu D-MAX?
Isuzu D-MAX: Yes, I was born ready, where are we going next?