Japanese vehicle manufacturer Isuzu has entered the Indian auto market by launching a new pick up truck known as D-Max. A new dealership for Isuzu has been opened in Hyderabad, while another one is expected to open in Coimbatore soon. In the initial phase, the vehicle will be sold as a Completely Knocked Down (CKD) unit from Thailand and it will be localised over a period of time. This pick up competes against the likes of stalwarts such as Mahindra Getaway and Tata Xenon XT. Apart from India, a range of these pick up vehicles are already available in international markets such as Thailand, Australia and UK. It is a favourable time for the Japanese auto company to be entering domestic territory, where Utility Vehicles (UVs) are thriving.
Till the time a new factory is not set up, the pick up vehicle will be assembled at the Hindustan Motors plant. The new plant of Isuzu is likely to become operational by 2015. Isuzu has entered the market with only light commercial vehicles that include an SUV and a pick up truck. The company has not ruled out the fact that it may be launching some new cars in a few years, after establishing itself well in the Indian market. In the past, Isuzu has been associated with Hindustan Ambassadors for manufacturing 1.8 litre and 2.0 litre Ambassador engines.
Variants of Isuzu D-Max
The new Isuzu D-Max is available in four different variants. Two of these are regular cabs and two are crew cabs. Both are pick up trucks, but the regular cab has place for two persons inside the cabin and the crew cab has place for four. One version of both the variants is a 2-wheel drive, while the other is a 4-wheel drive.
Review of Isuzu D-Max
New Isuzu D-Max in India range of pick up vehicles is powered by a 2.5 litre twin turbo diesel engine, which is sufficient to generate a power output of 136 bhp. A peak torque of 400 Nm is available. The engine is mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox. D-Max's new powertrain is more fuel efficient than its previous versions. While the regular cab is suitable for carrying heavy loads, the crew cab has been projected as a lifestyle Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV). While the regular cab is BSIII compliant, the crew cab meets BSIV emission norms.
Exterior of Isuzu D-Max
Isuzu D-Max projects an aggressive look from the front. It has a high ground clearance of 190 mm, which allows it travel off road with ease. The vehicle has a bold road presence; through styling is a bit old school. New projector head lamps have been fitted for better visibility. The front grille with Isuzu logo has been finished in chrome. Tail lamps are small but look cute in contrast to headlamps. Fog lamp cluster at the front is body coloured.
| Criteria || Dimensions |
| Length (mm) || 5155 |
| Width (mm) || 1720 |
| Height (mm) || 1635 |
| Wheelbase (mm) || 3050 |
| Ground Clearance (mm) || 190 |
| Front Over hang (mm) || 775 |
| Rear Over hang (mm) || 1330 |
Interior of Isuzu D-Max
Isuzu D- Max gets simple interiors without any stylish upholstery. Basic functional entities such as the tachometer, functional knobs for air conditioning and a stereo system are all present at easy reach of the driver on the dashboard. There are no audio mounted controls on the three-spoked steering wheel of the model. Amount of available fuel is indicated on the tachometer. Space inside the vehicle is quite good, considering that it can only seat either two or four persons in the cabin. Interiors are just as comfortable as a pick up truck can get.
Fuel Economy of Isuzu D-Max
Isuzu D-Max in India is a heavy vehicle weighing in excess of 1600 kg. although the model is equipped with a powerful engine, it does not lag on the grounds of fuel efficiency. In normal city driving condition, the model covers a distance of 12 kmpl, whereas these figures come on a slightly brighter side on highways.
Power of Isuzu D-Max
Maximum power output of the D-Max is 135 bhp. Such power is sufficient for a pick up vehicle of its size. With this power output, the vehicle does not faces a problem while travelling on an incline, even if fully loaded with luggage and passengers.
Safety & Security of Isuzu D-Max
D-Max pick up has been equipped with standard safety features such as dual airbags and power steering. Electronic Stability Program (ESP) and Traction Control System (TCS) is also provided for enhanced safety. Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) has also been made available. However, not all variants of the new Isuzu D-Max pick up are packed with all these safety features.
Comfort & Convenience of Isuzu D-Max
Heating is available as standard on the D-Max. Due to the large engine, air conditioning is quite effective, but it is an optional fitting. The crew cab version has an extra row of seats which are more comfortable. Apart from these, space at the rear allows one to carry a lot of equipment or luggage at one time. The 4x4 variant is quite a capable off roader, having proven its versatility in a large pick up market such as Thailand.
Wheels of Isuzu D-Max
15 x 6.5 J wheels are fitted on to the D-Max. Radial tubeless tyres have been used for the vehicle. Wheel material is steel and no special alloys are available.
Dealers of Isuzu D-Max
Isuzu does not have a sound dealership presence in the Indian auto market. However, interested buyers can get the D-Max in India from the following dealer.
| Dealers || Location |
| Mahavir || Plot No 1261, Road No. 36, Jubliee Hills, Hyderabad-500033, Andhra Pradesh |
Company Quotes of Isuzu D-Max
With respect to setting up manufacturing in India, Isuzu Deputy MD Shigeru Wakabayashi said, “We have begun very small with first dealership in Hyderabad and second will be in Coimbatore. We will initially concentrate on Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu as we assess the market and grow our business. Once this pilot phase is completed, we will look at the manufacturing base.”
He further added, “We are keen to take part in the LCVs, pick-up range, and SUVs segment pitting MU-7 against Toyota Fortuner and others in the market. The cargo movement in India will slowly but surely shift to roads. As India develops roads and seeks to move goods much faster between cities, the demand for warehouses, cold chains for food will go up. This will open up a big market for LCVs and pick-ups. These will be imported from Thailand.” Expressing his views on the future of the Indian market, he said, “We feel in the next ten years the Indian market will grow strongly.”
Competition to the D-Max
As competition to the Isuzu D-Max in India, pick up vehicles like Mahindra Getaway and Tata Xenon XT are present. Both are established vehicles in the market and Isuzu has definitely feel the heat while competing against their dealer network. In addition, Mahindra and Tata will also inspire more confidence in the minds of buyers by virtue of being present for a long time.
Tata Xenon XT has a 2.2 litre VTT DICOR engine, which generates 140 bhp of power. This is higher than both the Mahindra Getaway and Isuzu D-Max. While Getaway has a 2906 cc engine with 115 bhp of power, Isuzu D-Max generates 135 bhp through a 2.5 litre turbocharged diesel engine. From the outside, it is the Getaway that looks most attractive, with its prominent grille and good looking headlamps resembling the Scorpio. In comparison, the other two look dated in design. On the interior front, regular fabric upholstery can be noticed on all the three vehicles.
In terms of pricing, both Mahindra Getaway and Tata Xenon XT are more expensive than the Isuzu’s vehicle. While the Getaway can be purchased at Rs. 8.92 lakhs, Xenon is slightly cheaper at Rs. 8.89 lakhs. In comparison, the top model of D-Max can be purchased for Rs. 8.09 lakhs, despite being a CKD. This makes the Isuzu a tremendous value proposition.
Pros of Isuzu D-Max
The Isuzu D-Max pick up is a very safe vehicle, going by its heavy build. It is capable of travelling smoothly both on smooth and rough roads. The vehicle is one of the first ones to look like a thorough bred pick up truck, apart from Mahindra Scorpio Getaway and Tata Xenon XT. It has a lot of space for carrying ample luggage, which makes it ideal to embark on long trips. It is a question of few years by which Isuzu will be able to set up its own manufacturing plant in Andhra Pradesh, after which a higher degree of localisation can be achieved.
Cons of Isuzu D-Max
As the Isuzu D-Max will be brought into the country by the CKD route in the initial phase, this means that spare parts will not be easily available. One has to pay an extra amount for installing air conditioning in the vehicle, or it comes equipped in the higher end variants. It remains to be seen how widespread the dealership network becomes as currently the D-Max has been launched in South India with a single dealership in Hyderabad. The other dealership in Coimbatore has still not been set up yet.
Conclusion of Isuzu D-Max
One can clearly see that till the time the Isuzu plant in Andhra Pradesh becomes operational, the auto maker will face a tough time in meeting cost challenges and in providing sound after sales service. It will also need to make a lot of investment in technology. Despite these challenges, one can say that the Isuzu D-Max in India is a wonderfully capable product, which will survive well, going by the successes of Mahindra Getaway and Tata Xenon XT. It is a cost effective model, despite coming by the CKD route. This clearly shows that the Indian market is maturing, as there was hardly any market for such pick up vehicles until ten years ago.