Murray Greenhalgh might be the general manager of Isuzu Utes NZ, but he can be forgiven for not knowing much about the new 2020 model D-Max.
Japanese parent company executives at the Isuzu plant in Thailand don’t do shop talk, certainly not with its 120 global distributors.
“I’ve been in boardrooms at the factory and asked about it (D-Max) and have had the blank stare back,” said Greenhalgh. “The level of secrecy is just supreme.”
Isuzu released photos and specifications of the new model on its website in Thailand. They show an all-new carry-all bigger in every dimension and loaded with technology.
But it was news to Greenhalgh. “The first time I saw a photograph of it was on the website,” he said. “Okay, we knew there was a new D-Max coming, but that’s all.
“No one knew anything about it. Distributors aren’t told. I know of no other brand that has been able to achieve such a level of confidentiality. They run a tight ship and it shows.”
Told that the 2020 model is likely to have a classier cabin, advanced safety aids, a locking rear differential, more power and torque from its carry-over 3.0-litre diesel engine, bigger brakes, deeper wading depth … Greenhalgh said: “Does it? Well, there you go. We know as much as the internet tells us.”
The big news, according to the website in Thailand, is under the bonnet: the four-cylinder 3.0-litre turbo diesel has been given a power boost from the current model’s 130kW/430Nm output to 140kW/450Nm.
The new power/torque figure puts the new Isuzu D-Max up among the class leaders: Ford Ranger (3.2-litre 147kW/470Nm), Toyota HiLux (2.8-litre 130kW/450Nm), Mitsubishi Triton (2.4-litre 135kW/437Nm), Holden Colorado (2.8-litre 147kW/500Nm), Nissan Navara (2.3-litre 140kW/450Nm), Mazda BT-50 (3.2-litre 147kW/470Nm).
Other improvements listed on Isuzu’s Thailand website over the present D-Max model:
- Rear diff lock
- Wading depth up from 600mm to 800mm
- Hill descent control and hill start assist
- Front disc brakes increased from 300mm to 320mm
- Height and reach adjustable steering wheel
- Sensor key with push-button start
- Rear cross-traffic alert and blind zone warning
- 20cm tablet-style central touchscreen with Apple Car Play and Android Auto
- Eight-speaker surround sound audio system
- Dusk-sensing headlights
- Rain-sensing wiper blades with washer nozzles in blades themselves rather than on the bonnet.
Said Greenhalgh: “D-Max utes built for the Thai market are of a different specification than those built for New Zealand. There are different safety and compliance standards, engine configuration … down to details such as New Zealand vehicles have a heater.
“We haven’t had any information on D-Max for New Zealand yet, but we’re expecting it. And we have not received a date for the vehicle itself. If we were to guess, 12 to 18 months.”