Isuzu has given the world a sneak peek of the new-generation D-Max ute, which is expected in Australian showrooms in 2020.
As these images taken from the video show, the Isuzu D-Max will maintain its familiar tough-truck look, however it will be completely new from the wheels up.
This is the first full model change for the Isuzu D-Max since the current version went on sale in 2012.
While Isuzu Thailand has only released limited details, CarAdvice understands the D-Max will be available with the latest safety and technology features including autonomous emergency braking and creature comforts such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a digital speed display.
The addition of this new technology is believed to have been driven by the new partnership with Mazda.
Isuzu has not confirmed what engine will be under the bonnet but given that the 3.0-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder had a major overhaul just two years ago – in 2017 – CarAdvice believes it will soldier on in the new model.
The Australian distributor of Isuzu utes has previously fought hard to retain the 3.0-litre locally – one of the largest capacity engines in the segment – because research showed it was regarded as a key advantage among buyers.
However, there is a possibility the twin-turbo 1.9-litre Isuzu diesel available in other countries – and complied to more advanced Euro VI emissions standards rather than the current Euro V mandated in Australia – could be added to the D-Max range as an option on certain models.
The new-generation Isuzu D-Max is also expected to be even more capable off-road. The video shows a glimpse of a rear diff-lock button; the current model does not even have a limited-slip diff.
Isuzu Ute Australia said it was too early to discuss details about the new model, as the teased Thailand edition will likely differ from the Australian version.
A statement from Isuzu Ute Australia said: “The new-generation Isuzu D-Max teaser campaign that commenced in Thailand is currently limited to vehicles produced for the Thai domestic market only. Isuzu Ute Australia will monitor the market response to this update, to ensure that any product updates to the D-Max in the future, meet the Australian market’s requirements and regulations – before committing to any changes to the local Australian product.”
Given the age of the current Isuzu D-Max ute – it is one of the oldest in the segment – the new model can’t come soon enough.
Sales of Isuzu D-Max four-wheel drive variants are down by 11 per cent year-to-date to the end of September, which is a steeper decline than the 7.9 per cent drop across the whole industry. However, it remains the fourth best seller in the segment behind the Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger and Mitsubishi Triton.
Bucking the trend are sales of the Isuzu D-Max two-wheel drive workhorse utes; sales remain strong (up by 0.2 per cent year-to-date and second in the 4x2 class) in a declining market.
What about the Mazda BT-50?
While Isuzu and Mazda have confirmed a joint venture deal on their next generation utes, CarAdvice understands the new Mazda BT-50 will be about 12 months behind the Isuzu D-Max.
The Mazda BT-50 on sale today is built in a factory shared with the Ford Ranger, its current twin under the skin. However, three years ago Mazda announced its 30-year partnership with Ford was coming to an end and would switch to a joint venture with Isuzu.
Although Isuzu is building the vehicle for Mazda, CarAdvice understands it will have a unique appearance and won't simply be a new badge or grille.
With the next generation Isuzu D-Max due some time in 2020, the new Isuzu-based Mazda BT-50 is expected to arrive in Australian showrooms in 2021. In the meantime, Ford will continue to supply the Mazda BT-50.