Young Eddie showed more than his usual interest in my test car as he cycled up and down the cul-de-sac.
No surprise there. The D-Max XTR is built to stand out in the crowd, its body armour suggesting it is about to go into battle. It also happened to be the first test car to grace my drive since lockdown so I have certainly announced my return with a bang.
The Isuzu pick up has done rather well since it replaced the Rodeo in 2012 collecting numerous awards and sending several warning shots to big hitters Toyota, Mitsubishi and Nissan that D-Max is a force to be reckoned with.
In the years that followed the pick-up market went berserk, no longer seen just as muddy, rugged things that plied their trade on farms and building sites but fashionable wheels perfect for hauling leisure kit or doubling as workhorse and family car.
And it is that spirit of adventure that has spawned the new XTR version. It is too swank for a building site or muddy field with its in your face body kit comprising bonnet protector, bumper guard and wheel arch extensions. Even the side steps have a smart angular design and then there is the snazzy paint job topped off with several vibrant green accents.
I asked Eddie how many XTR body badges he could spot and the sharp eyed youngster came up with nine. Right answer. I thought he might have missed the hard to spot black embossed badges on each wheel, come to think of it Isuzu missed a trick and should have gone for bright green there as well.
XTR is not just style over substance. The company turned to Australian specialist Pedders to upgrade the suspension and brakes and the end result is a sophisticated and relatively comfortable 4×4.
Ride height has been raised to 250mm and as well as beefed up suspension XTR boasts Kevlar ceramic brake pads and performance front discs with visible brake and suspension hardware sprayed in signature vibrant green.
Isuzu is not the most fashionable name on the strip, especially when you can now buy a pick-up with a Mercedes, Volkswagen or Fiat badge, but it has got street cred when it comes to toughness and the XTR moves it into a higher league.
When considering a pick up as a multi purpose vehicle ride quality is key – no one wants the kiddies being bounced around with the inevitable mess that brings – and Pedders have done a decent job smoothing out the ride. It is not up there with Nissan Navara or Mitsubishi’s L200 but it isn’t far off and remember pick ups are workhorses so do not expect the level of comfort from a big SUV.
Inside has been nicely trimmed with a mixture of leather and durable plastics and there is plenty of XTR branding on the seats and mats. It is flexible too with the seat back folding flat or the cushions lifting back creating enough floor space to take a bicycle. Oddment slots are well catered for, 11 in total plus two neat pull out cup holders.
Power comes from a 1.9 litre turbo diesel which lets the side down against the best opposition. Performance is fine with adequate mid range grunt but the engine is too noisy on tickover and stays noisy until fourth gear when the volume comes down to a more civilised level. Wind and road noise is fairly well managed.
Expect 25-30mpg and there is a good useable range thanks to a generous 76 litre tank.
The only shock came when I looked up the price. D-Max starts at just under £21k with XTR models kicking off at £41,340. My double cab Nav+ model is all but £44,000 and while a lot of the cost is out of sight it still feels like too much money. It has the usual luxuries like powered windows, heated front seats, cruise control and satellite navigation, but where were the automatic lights and wipers and digital air con. Small things may be but for this money I expect the kitchen sink.
That aside the XTR model is an impressive piece of kit and will do nothing but add to the appeal of the D-Max range.
D-Max XTR Nav+ 6sp auto
1.9 litre; 161bhp; 360Nm torque
0-62mph 13secs; 112mph
205g/km. Road tax £264
Insurance group 42
Warranty: 5years or 125,000 miles