Isuzu D-Max Arctic Trucks AT35: you’ll just want it for fun

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JThe Isuzu D-Max Arctic Trucks AT35 is the kind of car you probably don’t need, but just want for the hell of it. It’s so much fun and has the potential to convert indoor types like your pen pal into a backcountry person. Based on the fairly cheap, useful and innocuous Isuzu D-Max pick-up range, it’s made massively bigger and a bit more capable thanks to a collaboration with hardcore off-road specialists Artic Trucks of Iceland – icebergs, volcanoes, that sort of thing.

So naturally, I took him to… Birmingham. Specifically, off-roading on a small but challenging course at the nearby National Center for Agriculture and Exhibitions. I learned a few things. First, that progressing in any 4×4 requires patience and a nerve of steel, and it reminded me of how enjoyable it is; just a hobby, a hobby like golf or windsurfing, but unfortunately not so easily accessible. Second, I learned that the Isuzu has a rather traditional way of moving through hills and mud, which is the optional differential lock, always engaged by the driver rather than the on-board electronics.

That way, if you run into any trouble, you have only yourself to blame, and quite a few professional 4×4 riders prefer it. This means the power to the rear wheels can be adjusted depending on where you want the traction to be, and ensures that the rear axle wheels turn at the same rate at very low speeds off the highway. Under normal road conditions, you need your inside and outside wheels to turn at different speeds to round corners – ‘cos physics. Anyway, with expert tuition, I completed the course and it left me wiser and yearning for more. Of course, a pickup isn’t usually the best shape for off-roading due to the long rear overhang, so your “exit angle” from a ravine is too low. . For this kind of activity, you need a Land Rover, a Toyota or a Suzuki Jimny, according to the legend.

This versatile tow or high bar might come in handy

(Isuzu)

The only issue was that the Isuzu sometimes didn’t seem to want to get out of its low-end 4×4 mode and into other normal 4x4s or two-wheelers (rear) for on-road use, via the rotary switch on the dash . Other than that, it’s flawless. I try to resist feelings of envy, but I would really like to own a patch of forest and a stream with a few sheep around that would make something like the Isuzu Artic Trucks machine not just a pose but essential for the job at hand.

THE SPECIFICATION

Price: £47,999 (as tested; range starts at £21,999)

Engine capacity: 1.9l diesel, inline 4cyl, 6sp automatic

Output power (hp): 162

Maximum speed (mph): 112

0 to 60 (seconds): 13

Fuel economy (mpg): 30.7

CO2 emissions (WLTP, g/km): 240

The AT35 looks the part. It has extra ground clearance, thanks to a revised suspension and extremely large tires (35 inches in diameter, hence the AT35 name) that can cope with even the roughest terrain, a versatile tow or high bar , as well as a body kit that protects the metal panels from damage. It looks cool, city or country, something to do with form following function. You even get an Artic Trucks torque wrench for your money.

Ah yes, the money. The big appeal of these double-cab pickups is as much fiscal as it is physical. This is because they are technically classed as commercial vehicles and as a business user you can reclaim VAT and enjoy other tax benefits. To do this, the pickup needs to have a one-tonne payload capacity, which is pretty impressive, and the Isuzu will also tow 3.5 tons. So much ability to go with the looks. Still, the range-topping Isuzu will set you back £47,999 with its automatic gearbox if you’re a business user; but with VAT on top, a dabbler will have to shell out close to £60,000 just for that authentic little builder/farmer look.

You and your people are wrapped in leather

(Isuzu)

With the four-door double-cab configuration, you still get a five-seater that doubles as a family transport, and I actually found the Isuzu perfectly acceptable on the highway and around town. The diesel engine isn’t the last word in refinement, but it was pretty subdued on the M1, and it’ll pull through at about the same speed as a standard old Ford Focus, say. You and your friends are wrapped in leather and there’s the usual touchscreen, DAB and connectivity. The only thing missing is a built in satnav so you have to use Google Maps or similar.

The kids tell me that’s the way to go. It’s really very comfortable in there, and of course “different” from the mainstream. It doesn’t yield much to its better-known main rivals, the Toyota HiLux, a bit of an indestructibility legend, the Mitsubishi L200, which unfortunately is soon leaving the market, and the Ford Ranger and its equally garish colors. . If you want even more novelty, there’s the rarely glimpsed value of the SsangYong Musso, or the intriguing all-electric Maxus T90EV from China soon to be on sale. The Arctic Trucks cachet gives the Isuzu a little edge. But you have to do your job well, which these days means traversing very rough terrain.

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