The pick-up segment in India has essentially been one that’s been focussed at commercial movement of goods within the city and arterial roads. Now however, this segment is also seeing the introduction of lifestyle-oriented models from OEMs and the latest example of that is the Isuzu D-Max V-Cross pick-up truck. While the company had initially launched its D-Max range of pick-up trucks exclusively for commercial utilisation, the D-Max V-Cross is the first pick-up model from the company that can be registered for personal use. The Isuzu D-Max V-Cross is assembled at Isuzu’s new facility at SriCity in Andhra Pradesh.
DESIGN & STYLING
The Isuzu D-Max V-Cross is a four-door pick-up with seating for five adults. It features typical SUV/pick-up design language with large dimensions, ground clearance of 225mm and a presence that will definitely be felt on the road. The main highlight of the vehicle is the large cargo deck that has a capacity of 265 kg, and is lined with high-quality plastic to reduce damage to the metal body. Key exterior features include projector headlamps, front fog lamps, 16-inch alloy wheels with 245/70R16 radial tubeless tyres, silver roof rails and chrome highlights. The pick-up has a high stance, which provides a commanding and clear view of almost any kind of road it is being driven on.
The interiors of the V-Cross are very much in line with SUVs that fall in its price bracket, with high level of quality in the fit-and-finish department. The quality of plastics that make up the dashboard, door panels, switches and knobs are all top notch and feel like they would last through the lifetime of the vehicle without fuss. The interior presents the driver with a six-way manually-adjustable seat, electronically-foldable and adjustable outside rear-view mirrors, tilt-adjustable steering wheel with multi-function controls and a multi information display (MID) in the instrument panel. The MID displays information like trip meters, odometer, driving range, real-time fuel efficiency, among others.
The interior also includes auto AC with integrated controls and fine particle pollen filter, as well as a ‘twin cockpit’ interior design with dual tone and silver accents. The D-Max V-Cross is provided with two glove boxes, as well as a number of cup holders and storage spaces across the interiors. It features 60:40 split rear seats, which are tip-up foldable with storage compartments below. While the pick-up seats five adults comfortably, the rear doors are relatively small, resulting in ingress and egress becoming slightly difficult.
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION
The Isuzu D-Max V-Cross is powered by a 2.5 l, four-cylinder, common rail turbodiesel, with a variable geometry turbocharger and intercooler. The engine is mated to a five-speed manual transmission. The Isuzu turbodiesel produces maximum power of 134 hp at 3,600 rpm, along with peak torque of 320 Nm from 1,800 to 2,800 rpm. The pick-up also features shift-on-the-fly four-wheel drive (4WD) system with a high torque mode that can be activated with the help of a dial on the centre console. The 4WD system on the D-Max V-Cross comes in two modes – 4L and 4H, and works very well on the toughest terrain that you can throw at it.
CHASSIS & SUSPENSION
The D-Max is built on a robust ladder frame chassis, which is said to be based on Isuzu Gravity Response Intelligent Platform (iGRIP) technology. The iGRIP technology is claimed to ensure greater stability even at high speeds and sharp turns, which was something that definitely can be felt on this behemoth. The V-Cross is equipped with an independent double wishbone coil spring setup for its front suspension, while the rear features soft ride leaf springs.
The Isuzu D-Max V-Cross features an engine that is quite apt for the vehicle’s heft, comfortably moving its 1,905 kg kerb weight. Some of the engine-related technologies of the V-Cross include a melt-in liner, which is anti-friction induction hardened for the cylinders, chain-driven camshaft, graphite coated pistons and cast rocker arm with roller pivot bearings. The variable geometry turbocharger works in a linear manner, delivering the power and torque very smoothly even when driven with a heavy foot.
While the pick-up is relatively quick for its size, the power tends to peak out by about 130 km/h, after which the vehicle needs to be pushed to move the speedometer needle further, while the fuel economy figures of the vehicle vary quite drastically along with the driving style employed. We managed to average between 10 and 12 km/l while driving in 2WD mode on tarmac, along with a little bit of off-roading.
The vehicle has a clutch that is slightly heavier than passenger cars, but is still light enough to be worked in congested traffic conditions. The gearbox works smoothly and you don’t need to shift very often in city traffic, due to the engine’s torque output. However, downshifting is usually required for quick overtaking. Meanwhile, the brakes on the V-Cross, which comprise of ventilated discs at the front with twin-pot callipers, and drums for the rear, work without any issues. The brake pedal is set at a comfortable angle, and has just the right amount of travel to ensure safe stops from almost any speed. The radial MRF tyres on the test vehicle provided ample grip and traction on dry conditions while off-roading.
RIDE & HANDLING
The suspension setup of the D-Max V-Cross has been tuned to soak in most bumps and potholes, regardless of their size. Additionally, body roll is minimal. This is something one does not expect from a large pick-up truck and was a pleasant surprise during the course of the drive. The steering is definitely on the heavier side and takes a little effort, especially while entering and exiting tight parking spaces. However, this heavy steering works to the advantage of the V-Cross at triple digit speeds and even adds confidence while cornering. The level of stability felt in the D-Max V-Cross makes you wonder at times whether you are really driving such a large vehicle.
SAFETY & TECHNOLOGY
Safety equipment in the Isuzu D-Max V-Cross includes ABS, EBD, brake assist, dual front airbags, engine immobiliser, and ISOFIX anchorages on the rear for child seat. Other features come in the form of cross car front beam and door side intrusion beams for crash protection, as well as a skid plate and engine bottom guard to prevent damage while off-roading.
The V-Cross comes with a multimedia infotainment system, with touch screen display and Bluetooth connectivity. The system also features a four-speaker music system with above average sound quality. Music can be played via CD, USB connectivity, AUX-in and Bluetooth. The system allows up to five phones to be connected at a time, and provides seamless connectivity.
The D-Max V-Cross is an effort from Isuzu to launch a product in the pick-up segment that has not really found favour from Indian customers for personal or lifestyle usage. However, it can be said that this model from Isuzu definitely brings a lot to the table in terms of the entire package, which may attract newer customers into this segment. We don’t like the lack of a reverse camera and parking sensors, small rear doors and heavy steering. But these are smaller niggles and are outweighed by the slew of positives features that come in the form of this vehicle’s powertrain, interior and exterior design, and safety technologies.
Therefore, all these features and technologies, combined with a price tag of Rs 12.80 lakh, ex-showroom Delhi, definitely become a good proposition for people looking for a lifestyle pick-up. We feel that this vehicle may just get the pick-up segment going in India, unlike any other model that came before it.
TEXT & PHOTO: Naveen Arul