Isuzu D-Max Arctic Trucks AT35 4×4 Auto
The D-Max was considered a true workhorse, with some comfort features for its occupants. The trustworthy 2.5-liter turbodiesel engine was one of the most fuel-efficient powerplants in its class and that was no wonder since Isuzu is the biggest diesel-engine manufacturer in the world. Arctic Trucks was an international company based in Iceland specialized in re-engineering four-wheel-drive vehicles for harsh terrain. It used to modify the Toyota Hilux for the Arctic expeditions and it teamed-up with Isuzu in developing the D-Max.
The general shape of the body was kept, but the over fenders and big bumpers were from the Icelandic specialists. The car was fitted with 35” tires on 10×17” alloy wheels. The car featured an onboard inflation kit, which allowed the inflation or deflation of the tires. To make room for the massive wheels, FOX suspension installed new coils and dampers for both axles. The D-Max Arctic Truck was available as a single or double-cab, but with the same wheelbase.
The chassis was reinforced with additional braces for more torsional rigidity. The front independent suspension and the rear axle helped the driver maintain full control of the vehicle on slopes or bumpy terrain. Under the hood, there was the same 2.5-liter turbodiesel as the standard D-Max. It was mated to either a 6-speed manual or to an optional 5-speed automatic with sequential control. Due to intensive modifications, the D-Max Arctic Truck AT35 didn’t feature a hill descent control, but the engine braking combined with a low-range gear and big tires made that system irrelevant.
Make no mistake, the Isuzu D-Max Arctic Trucks AT35 is not a kneejerk reaction to the current crop of flagship trucks on the market. In fact, Isuzu South Africa says it has been working with Iceland’s Arctic Trucks for the past couple of years to find a way for this kit to be offered and indeed built locally. Isuzu’s headquarters in Japan, of course, also had to give its approval.
So, what makes this model an AT35? Well, the special D-Max gains wider wheel arches, 17-inch wheels, 35-inch BFGoodrich tyres, heftier mud flaps and Fox dampers front and rear. All of these items are added to a 3,0-litre, 4×4 LX 6-spd AT variant … and the result will set you back a total of R785 000.
In terms of off-roading ability, this truck is impressive. The ground clearance improves from 220 mm to 268 mm, the break-over angle jumps from 22,4 to 31,4 degrees, the approach angle is now 36 degrees and the departure angle comes in at 28 degrees (while fuel consumption has increased to a claimed 8,6 L/100 km). Then there’s the way it looks, boasting a stance that lends it far more purpose than the standard D-Max.
As only one or two AT35s can be manufactured at the Struandale plant in PE per week, the allocation for the rest of the year has already been sold. While Isuzu buyers in particular and truck fans in general will be intrigued by the new AT35, there’s no escaping the fact it is priced too close to the Ranger Raptor. The Blue Oval truck offers a better suspension setup, more power and torque as well as updates to its cabin. And that’s a list of items many buyers will struggle to ignore.