While Isuzu is banking on the popularity of its 3.0-litre engine, it might be joined by more efficient options in the future
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Isuzu Ute Australia has cemented the new 3.0-litre 4JJ3-TCX diesel engine as the main powertrain of its range in Australia, while a hybrid driveline and smaller diesel option could join it in the future.

Based on the outgoing 4JJ1 engine, the new 4JJ3 engine uses a new block, cylinder head and fuel injection system to achieve better power and torque figure of 140kW and 450Nm.

Back in 2017, the Australian market was instrumental in Isuzu keeping the 3.0-litre turbo diesel engine alive. Rather than replacing it with something smaller and cleaner, Isuzu went to the effort and expense of engineering in a diesel particulate filter to keep the much-loved engine under emissions limits and available to the Australian market.

Fast-forward to 2020, and it’s a similar story. Australia and Thailand, the two biggest markets for the Isuzu D-Max, are the only two markets that will receive this new 4JJ3-TCX engine.

Engineered with mostly new components and improved outputs, Isuzu Australia will look to keep this engine at the forefront of Australian offerings for the foreseeable future.

That might not be enough to stay relevant, however, in an increasingly electrified automotive landscape. Isuzu has flagged its interest in future hybrid drivetrains for the Isuzu D-Max (and MU-X, which share the same powertrain).

Ute rivals such as Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota are currently working towards releasing hybrid variants of their own workhorses in the years ahead.

While unable to confirm any kind of development or dates, Isuzu Ute Australia said a hybrid powertrain was ‘under study’ for Australia, and it will see how the market reacts to the new 2021 Isuzu D-Max and its single powertrain offering.

Similarly, Isuzu’s 1.9-litre diesel engine is also on the consideration list for Australia. Producing 110kW and 360Nm, the smaller ‘BluePower’ engine complies with Euro VI emission regulations, and is offered alongside the 3.0-litre engine in cheaper 4x2 variants for the Thai market.

In markets such as Europe – where there are more stringent emission regulations – Isuzu only offers the D-Max with the cleaner-running 1.9-litre twin-turbo diesel engine, which is able to meet the required standards without needing ‘AdBlue’ selective catalytic reduction (SCR).