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PostSubject:   Wed 01 Apr 2015, 2:11 pm

LONDON: The popular Thai manufacturer Isuzu has released a limited edition derivative of its lightly updated 2015 D-Max ute. Dubbed the X-Runner, the headline act is limited to just 360 vehicles.
Isuzu has offered the X-Runner before, though this time the new model sits atop the range instead of at the midpoint. It is based on the regular D-Max LS-T dual cab, with standard features such as Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, sat-nav, a colour touch screen, keyless entry and ignition, a reversing camera and rear parking sensors.
The obligatory list of cosmetic add-ons are present and correct for a limited edition model, too: garish X-Runner decals that run alongside much the vehicleís 5.29-metre long body, two colour choices and some cosmetic niceties in the interior like a darker roof lining and interior scheme.
While some elements are new, there are no wholesale changes on the X-Runner that truly elevate it from the regular D-Max.
At its heart is a 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel that produces 130kW of power and 380Nm of torque. The latter figure is considerably down on class leaders like the 470Nm Ford Ranger, though Isuzu points to the peak torque being reached from a lowly 1800rpm offsetting the outright shortage.
Isuzu previously offered the matching five-speed manual available on other D-Max variants but decided against the move this time round.
Out on the road, it is the engine that stands out most in the D-Max, for a couple of reasons. Firstly itís not all that refined, emitting a raucous though strangely endearing oil burning note, meaning youíll likely hear it in most scenarios, particularly under load.
But moreover the abundant availability of torque translates to a smooth, linear power curve that pulls the vehicleís 1940kg kerb weight along without fuss. The D-Max lacks the same low down urgency of its rivals, but makes up for it with a meaty mid-range.
The transmission is similarly solid without excelling in any one area. It is smooth and progressive in its shifts and complements the engineís characteristics by confidently facilitating overtaking manoeuvres and downshifting when required. Even without a sixth ratio found on most competitors, the engine still feels relaxed at highway speeds.
The D-Max offsets its slight power disadvantage with an excellent claimed fuel rating of 8.1L/100km a figure we went close to achieving on test. The engine is at no disadvantage on paper in terms of the D-Maxís utilitarian values either, with a claimed maximum towing capacity of 3500kg and a maximum payload of 1005kg.
Elsewhere, the D-Maxís ride and handling characteristics are in line with most dual cab utes a slightly agricultural bent that reflects its load-carrying ability.
The steering is a little slow off centre but feels obedient through the bends, immune from most mid-corner bumps and undulations. There is also an expected degree of body roll and pitch but nothing ungainly. The D-Max feels solid on the open road with decent noise insulation for this class and a nice solidity in the way it carries itself through corners.
Bump suppression isnít a particular strong point. The rear end, fitted with traditional leaf springs, feels firmly tied down, bounces and jitters over small undulations, reflecting larger hits through the chassis without being crash. Overall, the D-Max isnít the most comfortable ride in its class that mantle goes to the Volkswagen Amarok and Ford Ranger but itís far from being the worst.
Prospective owners will also be pleased to see a five-year/130,000km warranty as standard. Thereís also a three-year capped price servicing program that averages out at $370 per visit, the downside being that servicing is set at six months or 10,000km intervals.
Isuzu D-Max X-Runner pricing and specifications
On sale: Now
Price: $51,990 drive away
Engine: 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel
Power: 130kW at 360rpm
Torque: 380Nm at 1800rpm
Transmission: Five-speed automatic
Fuel use: 8.1L/100km combined
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