The pick-up truck market, for personal use in particular, has never really seen proper action. Sure, we have had the Tata Xenon XT and the Mahindra Scorpio Getaway, but the small utilitarian needs of an urban buyer were fulfilled well by an SUV. And, the latter looked more upmarket as well. Now though Isuzu has a fitting reply to the SUV fade and it comes in the form of the D-Max V-Cross. Here’s what it is like to drive and live it.
The V-Cross is a premium product unlike the regular D-Max that is sold as a commercial vehicle. And Isuzu has done a good job in differentiating the two. The V-Cross gets fancy bits like halogen projector headlamps, a chrome-laden grille, fog lamps and sporty bumpers over the regular D-Max. The chrome embellishments and side-step you see on the side, though, are add-ons. The latter is nice and robust but still not wide enough. Towards the back, which can take sometime getting to given how long this truck is, the 4X4 stickering points at the pick-up’s off-roading capabilities. This one is a double cab and gets a reasonably long loading bed. The tail gate opens up to further extend the base of the bed. It is sturdy and the interior plastic lining is of good quality as well. The lining is an optional extra too. The overall paint job is excellent and the bold 'Isuzu' badging further accentuates the muscular and commanding presence of the vehicle. A tall stance, high ground clearance, huge wheel arches and roof rails give the V-Cross a stylish yet solid on-road presence.
One literally has to climb into the cabin of the V-Cross. And once in the driver's seat, you get into a commanding position with a clear view ahead. The seats are large and supportive with adequate cushioning. For that matter, even the rear bench seat is comfortable. Decent head, shoulder and legroom at the rear further add to the overall car-like pretense of the V-Cross. But, yes, there’s no denying that it is comfortable and airy.
Under the hood, the V-Cross sports a 2.5-litre in-line four-cylinder diesel engine. It isn’t particularly quiet but refinement levels at idle and even in the mid-range are acceptable. It revs without fuss too, till about 4,000rpm, post which things do get a bit noisy and vibey. The diesel engine meanwhile makes 134bhp of max power and 320Nm of peak torque. These figures clearly aren’t great especially when we look at output figures of other SUVs with similar engine capacities. However in the real world, the engine’s flat torque means the V-Cross never feels slow or lethargic. The five-speed gearbox has long throws – typical of a chassis-based, large diesel engined UV – but at least the gears slot in well. The throttle is responsive pretty responsive too and the V-Cross can comfortably cruise at triple digit speeds.
The Isuzu V-Cross is agreeable and easy to live with out on the open roads (and off-road as well), but in the city, it can be quite painful. Parking is a big issue especially without aids. And of course, there’s always the problem of finding a large enough parking spot for it. To add to the parking woes, the V-Cross’ hydraulic assisted steering is heavy and needs many a turns lock-to-lock making things very tedious. At least, the clutch isn't heavy and braking don’t require much effort either.
As far as ride goes, the V-Cross feels like any ladder-frame based vehicle. So, it takes rough patches and sharp potholes well but the body-shake and steering kickback is omnipresent. The V-Cross runs an independent double wishbone suspension setup at the front but a load-bearing leaf spring setup at the rear. Things are set a little soft but not enough to take away the slow speed lumpy ride. And at higher speeds the Isuzu can feel slightly floaty too. That said it never feels nervous even close to its top speed. And with load, things improve significantly.
Handling wise, the V-Cross feels long around a set of corners and there’s some body roll too. The 16-inch alloys shod with 245/70 profile MRF tyres have decent grip and only when charging hard into bends do they raise their squeal of complaint. Off the road, the tyres aren’t great but suffice. But, with four-wheel drive system, 225mm of ground clearance and a robust suspension, the V-Cross feels all conquering.
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||134bhp @ 3,600|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||320Nm @ 1,800|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||52|
|Tyre size||245/70 R16|
|2 front Airbags||Yes|
|Steering mounted audio controls||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||134bhp @ 3,600rpm||140bhp @ 4,000rpm|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||320Nm @ 1,800rpm||320Nm @ 1,750rpm|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||52||65|
|Tyre size||245/70 R16||215/75 R16|
Despite being priced on the higher side, the Isuzu D-Max V-Cross is worth considering. It feels reasonably upmarket and car-like, has a comfortable cabin, and has good highway manners. It can be a car one can live with on a daily basis. Unless of course, you are a hard-core city dweller. The V-Cross is also backed up by an acceptably refined diesel engine and robust build. It is priced at Rs 12.29 lakh (ex-showroom Mumbai) and you might be able to buy other five-seater SUVs for this money, but none with the promise of taking on the world. Just remember to get two adjacent parking slots before you buy one!