Almost three years of waiting will officially end on 7 April when Isuzu officially unveils the seventh generation D-Max in South Africa.
Originally planned for unveiling last year, the onset of Covid-19 eroded any possibility of production at the Port Elizabeth plant commencing as planned due to travel restrictions that halted supply of tooling from the main facility in Thailand.
“The intention is to launch [the D-Max] in early 2022, the original plan was at the back-end of 2021 but Covid-19 has had an impact and we have had to retime it,” Isuzu’s Vice President of Technical Operations, Dominic Rimmer, told the media during a virtual press briefing two years ago.
“We are [however] working hard to execute the programme in the time that is available. But we want to make sure that when we launch it, it is right.
“There is no point in launching it early if it does not meet the South African or African customer requirements, hence when we do go to market, the vehicle is what customers want”.
At the time, Rimmer confirmed that a number of prototypes had already touched down in South Africa for testing, adding that a series of modifications would be applied to suit local market conditions.
These include retuned suspension and dampers, a revised diff-lock, the fitting of all-terrain tyres, a new wiring harness, locally developed accessories and a loadbox made from thicker steel.
“What we are known for is local engineering, so we don’t want to shortcut that. We want to ensure that when the product is launched, it is launched at the quality our customers and consumers are accustomed to,” Rimmer said.
In confirming the mentioned launch date on the back of announcing ongoing production of the outgoing model set to be called D-Max GEN 6, Isuzu President and CEO, Billy Tom, also revealed the first locally assembled seventh generation D-Max at the Struandale Plant earlier today to celebrate production commencing.
The reveal sets into motion Isuzu’s R1.2-billion investment into the plant for D-Max production, as well as exporting the newcomer to left-and-right-hand-drive African markets.
On track to bow at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on said date, the D-Max is expected to mirror the outgoing model by being offered in single, extended and double cab bodystyles with a choice of rear-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive.
Representing a huge departure from its predecessor inside and out, it is anticipated that the South African-spec model will get both turbodiesel engines available internationally and in its Thai-built sibling, the Mazda BT-50.
These means the entry-level 1.9 BluePower rated at 110kW/350Nm and the heavily updated 140kW/450Nm 4JJ3-TCX 3.0 DDI that debuted towards the end of last year in the all-new MU-X.
Transmission choices will comprise of a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic with the previous five-speed units falling away completely.
Exact specification details and price will be announced at the unveiling or potentially in the run-up to 7 April.