Mark’s On The Road; Isuzu’s Snow Patrol Review

It’s probably safe to assume that #Isuzu’s #Dmax #ArcticTruck is the least sensible 4×4 pickup you’d ever consider owning. Why? Well in the main apart from the fact it remains a D-max at heart, it has to be said with the Arctic Truck conversion it doesn’t serve any obvious purpose. And given the fact Isuzu has elected to base the latest Arctic conversion on one of the more basic D-Max models it falls dramatically short of being a Kensington Cruiser whilst apart from maybe the forestry industry, few will have the need of the extreme upgrade.

Mechanically, the AT35 has benefited from the D-Max improvements, the revised 1,898cc turbo diesel kicking out 164hp, 360Nm of torque with a passable average 28mpg that equates to approximately 450 miles per 76 litre tank of diesel. Likewise, the 6-speed automatic transmission is more responsive if at times hampered by the increased rolling radius of the larger wheels. Inside the cabin the mid-spec choice means the much needed interior improvements of the Blade version have eluded the AT35 all apart from the improved instrumentation.

The old style and often perverse touch screen is now noticably dated although the circular heater controls that carry over to all D-Max models are logically clustered together. One point of interest is the satnav speed indicator that constantly reads 8mph less than that of the AT35. This would tend to suggest that the original D-Max speedo drive hasn’t been recalibrated to take into account the increased diameter of the now larger road wheels, something of a rudimentary oversight or a fault on the AT35 on test.

Also a familiar is the rotary transfer control located just behind the gear selector, the three positions being 2WD, 4WDHigh and 4WD low although no actual diff control are available, the diffs cutting in the instant either of the 4×4 ratios are selected. There’s also the option of engaging hill decent or disengaging the traction control although the system still tends to cut in even after theoretically being turned off.

As with all D-Max, hard if textured hard black plastic surfaces cover dash and doors. Rather unusual are the faux carbon weave inserts that run down the centre of the half leather trim of the rear bench and heated front seats. Door and map pockets are reasonable the twin glove boxes useful as are the positive profusion of cup and oddment holders. The lack of luxury has little if any affect on the AT35 cabin and whilst the practical and durable cabin trim is wipe down and maintenance free, its isn’t overly welcoming or what you’d possibly expect from a double-cab 4×4 that weighs in at £38,408 or to put it more into context, £8,881 more than the more upmarket more conventional Blade.

It’s externally that the AT35 shrieks its presence, chrome Arctic Truck badges and mud flaps there perchance you missed the rest. Besides the now familiar D-Max chrome grille and hawk projector headlights that sit high above the front bumper, steel skid plates and underbody protection are more obvious, the standard D-Max body shrinks beneath the Arctic additions. Extended wheel arches mean the AT35 is 2,170mm wide or 310mm over standard. Not a vast amount but noticeable on narrow country roads. On the plus side the AT35 offers 55mm more ground clearance, a 140 approach angle, 10 greater departure angle along with 120 more ramp over and a 700mm wading depth. So yes, in comparison to the standard D-max, the AT35 is more capable when off road.

Sat on 17” Arctic Cat multi-spoke black alloys shod with Nokian 315×70 tyres which along with the increased ride height mean the running boards are no longer a luxury, you do need them to get in. On the plus side the cargo bed still remains one of the most useful of its type. With a width, depth and length of 1,530mm, 465mm and 1,485mm along with minimal arch intrusion the almost square profile is load and pallet friendly, the standard liner and strapping eyes. On the minus side, the enhanced suspension reduced the payload weight down by 2kg to 1,099kg although the maximum trailer capacity remains the same at 3,500kg.

The view from behind the wheel is panoramic, only HGV’s sat higher. One immediate improvement is the substantial reduction in rear end bounce that tends to impede the ride quality of the double-cab, the ride significantly smoother. Visibility is excellent which it rather needs to be in more confined areas, the more or less three turns lock to lock of the 12,950mm turning circle noteworthy given the truck’s dimensions. Please do note though, with the increase tyre size, the standard D-Max power steering isn’t quite as effective at low or manoeuvring speeds.

Under most circumstances the automatic transmission is effective although use of the sequential option allows the driver more specific control and the facility to override the AT35’s propensity to hold a gear lower than necessary, the other manual shift benefits being improved economy and greater off road control. Similarly, with what would appear to be the standard gear ratios, it’s only at motorway speeds will the Isuzu actually engage 6th gear for any distance, in most instances 5th as high as you’re likely to progress. And it’s the same with the 6-speed manual option, the ratios still as standard.

Isuzu’s Arctic Truck conversion at times seems out of place. The lifestyle market for these double-cabs was more or less eliminated when the taxation loopholes were closed, the basic interior trim also eradicating the social climbing ‘look at me’ appeal. Under most circumstances the more conventional D-Max is the more common sense route to take even if only financially. If however you undertake more extreme off roading the AT35 will likely tick all the boxes along with an almost infinite selection of extreme off road tyre selection.

For those working in forestry or in some of the more remote parts of the country, the AT35 will once again come into its own, the Arctic part of the name already a proven commodity. The other benefits are of course Isuzu’s reliability, longevity and attractive lease and purchase plans all of which appeal to the commercial buyer. Lastly, whilst the D-Max Arctic Truck may at times defy all logic, it brings a smile to your face and to those who watch it drive by. Not the most valid of reasons but I’ll have to confess Isuzu’s Arctic Truck really is enjoyable to drive for all the right and wrong reasons!

You must be logged in to post a comment Login