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Isuzu Ute Australia and its growing customer base have the brand’s Japanese headquarters sitting up and taking notice.

Australia is the biggest global export market for Isuzu, leading Saudi Arabia, Philippines, UK and Italy. Sales have been growing strong over the past eight years, since the introduction of the D-Max to the local market in 2008, followed by the arrival of the MU-X in 2013.

With yearly growth in the double digits, it makes sense that Isuzu would be interested in knowing what its biggest customer base wants. Back in 2014 Isuzu embarked on a journey to develop the 4JJ1 engine and Australia is the first in the world to get the D-Max and MU-X with this custom engine under the bonnet.

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The newly launched 2017 Isuzu D-Max and 2016.5 MU-X have an upgraded 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine, developed in consultation with Australian customers and dealers.

Isuzu Ute Australia Assistant General Manager for Marketing & PR, Dave Harding, said “our voice at the factory is, along with our sales volume, increasing.”

“Purely for the Australian market, a Euro5 compliant 3.0L 4JJ1 engine and six-speed transmission drive train, an Isuzu world first, has been developed,” he said.

“To develop the best engine to suit Australian customers, Isuzu engineers conducted a fieldwork survey to obtain actual driving data from a variety of Australian customer types. These included mining site vehicles, fleet services, caravan owners and private buyers to name but a few.”

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Isuzu sent engineers to Australia to collect real-world data and conduct face-to-face interviews with customers as part of the process, and Mr Harding said it shows “the Australian market is crucially important for Isuzu.”

When asked about future projects that could involve Australian involvement, or the chance of new models being developed for the Australian market, Harding was giving nothing away.

“In line with industry norms, we need to upgrade our products periodically to catch up with customer needs and expectations. We will continue to monitor the demands of the Australian market – and where possible, meet its requirements, and exceed its expectations.

No word either on whether the 2016.5 Isuzu MU-X is to be replaced by a more substantial 2017 update.

MORE: 2017 Isuzu D-Max review
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