Monthly Archives: April 2019

One of the strengths of the Isuzu D-Max is its ability to tow heavy stuff – 3.5 tonnes worth of heavy stuff.

The breakdown recovery specialists have paired with Isuzu and Strongs Plastic Products to adapt 50 D-Max models into the ultimate RAC patrol vehicle. Retaining the ability to carry the 500 parts and tools that are required by RAC mechanics, the D-Max also adds the new All-Wheels-Up recovery system, which brings flatbed recovery capability to the fleet of breakdown patrollers. There’s also space for the RAC’s EV Boost charging system for electric cars that fall flat.

Making the adaptations to the D-Max has lowered it’s towing capacity to a degree, but at a 2.8 tonne capacity the RAC Heavy Duty 4×4 Patrol Van will be able to cope with the overwhelming majority of cars and light commercial vehicles on the roads of Britain.

Strongs Plastic Products have designed and produced the new van bodyshell from a tough polymer plastic that combines high strength with low weight – something that is important in keeping the conversion as effective as possible. It accommodates all of the RACs paraphernalia – including the All-Wheels-Up tow system – and it comes with a 20-year guarantee. The plan is that the shells will be used on several vehicles throughout their lifetime with the RAC.

It’s become ritual for Isuzu to reveal a new special edition D-Max at the Commercial Vehicle show each year. but this year we’ve been treated to two.

But where to start?

After flipping a coin, it’s with the XTR. This striking truck, which is currently a prototype, is aimed at serving clientele who use their truck both for work, but also as a recreational off-roader. But how have they done this?

The D-Max XTR sits on a bespoke suspension and braking setup from specialists Pedders. This includes a new front upper arm that works in conjunction with freshly designed dampers that allow longer articulation. This means that the XTR sits higher than a stock D-Max, with 250mm ground clearance, but the system doesn’t compromise the handling performance of the truck on the road.

The brake discs have been bolstered at the front to performance numbers that champion consistent brake feel and are made to survive hard wear and combat corrosion. They’re fully vented and slotted for better heat dissipation and outright braking performance. The pads they work with are Kevlar ceramics, so you know they’re properly tough.

Both the springs and shocks are set up to provide a consistent and comfortable ride on road, and have been tuned with the XTR’s new wheels in mind. The 17″ XTR alloys have been designed to a popular tyre size – 17×8.5″ – to give XTR drivers plenty of choice if they choose a new set of tyres. Engineered to be tough, the alloys don’t affect the D-Max’s 3.5-tonne towing capacity nor it’s 1.1-tonne payload. The XTR is also the first truck to take the Pirelli Scorpion All Terrain Plus tyres as standard.

No doubt you’ll have been taken aback by the styling of the XTR makeover, but let’s break it down. A dramatic front bumper guard, bonnet protection and headlight frames give the D-Max XTR a mean stare. Extended wheel arches add yet more attitude, finished in black with a vibrant green insert that matches the theme around the rest of the truck. Around the back, there are spoilers on both the tailgate and the rear bumper, whilst matching door mirror covers and door handles complete the look. Like the bodykit, the side-steps are Raptor-coated. The green highlights also appear on the brake calipers and selected suspension parts to add a flash of colour.

Inside, the XTR treatment continues, with the D-shaped suede and leather steering wheel featuring green stitching matches the grey leather, suede and durable carbon-fibre leather seating with the same accenting.

It’s not often that a truck with 35″ tyres is the subtler of a pair, but compared to the XTR, the Safir is just that. Based on the automatic D-Max Arctic Trucks AT35 double cab, Safir is happy to let the XTR take the ooh’s and have the aah’s for itself.

Finished in the beautiful Sapphire Blue Mica paint, the Safir looks calm and collected with its silver sports bar, matching Mountain Top rollover cover and a Safir branded aluminium underguard.

It also has Lazer Lights set into the front bumper and on a roof-mounted light bar – which is brand new for the D-Max range. The 17″ alloys are AT numbers in a new Hyper Dark diamond cut finish.

Bespoke leather seating adorns the interior, with the headrest embroidered Arctic Trucks logo in a matching sapphire cotton that matches the overstitch about the rest of the interior. The Safir also features a D-shaped steering wheel and the infotainment system has been upgraded to a 9″ touchscreen with a nine-speaker sound system that includes a subwoofer. The upper glovebox contains a wireless mobile charging pad, and a bumper mounted front camera makes parking and manoeuvring a doddle.

The Safir, like the XTR, is covered by Isuzu’s 125,000 mile five year warranty, and also retains the towing and payload capacities of the work-happy D-Max.

Pricing for the special trucks begins at £33,999 for the D-Max XTR and £45,000 for the Safir as a Commercial Vehicle.

The XTR is expected in showrooms later this year, whilst to act on your interest in either truck you should contact your local Isuzu dealer.

An updated version of the Toyota Hilux Invincible X will be unveiled at the CV Show later this month.

Visual enhancements are centred around a deep two-tone theme – black and dark grey – and will be available exclusively in double-cab form. There’s a smoked grey chrome finish for the upper front grille surround, fog lamp bezels, door and tail handles and side mirror casings. It’s the same for the front and rear under-runs and rear bumper corners, too. Each axle is capped with two-tone, machine-finished 18″ alloys.

The cabin is black leather throughout, with leather and piano black inserts broken up with chrome detailing around the instrument panel. There has been a redesign to the driver’s binnacle, which now features a Hilux animation when the ignition is switched on. A new design also sits on the key, which is now model specific, with a silhouette sketch of the truck’s front facia now taking pride of place.

As of 2019, all Hilux models, not just the Invincible X, will be available with the Toyota Safety Sense package which adds a suite of advanced safety features. These include the Pre-Collision System with pedestrian detection; Adaptive Cruise Control; Road Sign Assist and Lane Departure Alert. This will come into effect when the 2019 models go on sale in August, with more details on the Invincible X pricing expected nearer to the time.

Jeep have released six concept vehicles for the Easter Jeep Safari later this month, and this year, they are all based on the upcoming Jeep Gladiator.

First off, there’s the Wayout (ironic place to start, I know). This concept places overlanding in the crosshairs, by utilising the Gladiator’s whopping payload. This is done with a custom canopy, that then has a roof tent above it. The toughened exterior features a new Gator Green paint finish, that will be available on Gladiators that roll off the production line.

The truck bed features a custom rack with an integrated ladder and also holds the two-man roof tent and also plays mount to the 270º awning with an LED amber lighting makes setting up camp easy.

A 2″ lift has been taken from the official accessory category and it now rides on 17″ wheels dressed in 37″ mud-terrain tyres. Sitting on the front bumper is a 12,000-lb. Warn winch and the Wayout also wears a JPP snorkel.

Up top there’s also an integrated roof-rack system featuring a Mopar/Decked bed-drawer system for lockable secure storage. Inside, there’s bed-lined flooring plus brown trimmed leather seating, and the whole concept is powered by the revered 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 unit, with an automatic eight-speed transmission.

Taking a much less sedate approach, the Flatbill is inspired, and also aimed at, the Motocross world. It’s loud and rowdy and the perfect way to transport your dirt bikes.

A custom set of dirt bikes sleep in the truck bed sport matching decals, and the tailgate of the truck can be removed and ramps slide out for easy access and loading of the two two-wheelers. There are Dynatrac Pro-Rock 60 axles have been fitted both front and rear, along with 20″ wheels and whopping 40″ tyres.

The Flatbill too utilises the 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 and eight-speed auto, as well as a cold-air Mopar intake.

Next up, the first of the heritage inspired offerings – the M-715 Five-Quarter. This restomod blends both vintage and modern components. The Five-Quarter name is a nod to former Jeep trucks that were one and a quarter tonnes, aka five quarters.

Beginning with a 1968 M-715 truck, this Gladiator-based military truck was reimagined and designed with functional improvements to the chassis, drivetrain and cargo setups.

The front facia is carbon fibre,  and an all-new 6-foot bespoke aluminium truck bed has been installed, combining water-cut panels and wooden slats. The instrument panel has had similar treatment, and a vintage 8-71 supercharger now encases the transmission and transfer selectors.

Having been pulled forward 2″, the front axle has also been replaced by a Dynatrac Pro-rock 60 axle at the front and the 80 equivalent at the rear. Like the Flatbill, the Five-Quarter also rides on 20″ alloys and 40″ tyres, although its alloys have beadlocks. Oh, and under the bonnet it has a 6.2-litre supercharged Hellcrate Hemi V8 that musters up 700bhp… *whistles*

The J6 is a proper ’70s hill billy Jeep truck – and we love it.

It pays homage to trucks of yesteryear with prototype and production Mopar parts. It’s a customised two-door setup, with a six-foot truck bed and painted in a wonderfully retro Brilliant Blue – a tribute to the 1978 Jeep Honcho.

Overall, the truck measures 201″ and has a wheelbase of 118.4 – the same as the JL Wrangler four-door. The truck bed, which is a foot longer than that on the standard Gladiator, is sprayed in a colour-matched bed liner.

It also sports a custom 2.25″ steel roll bar and has a set of 5″ LED lights packing 4,800 lumens each. It wears 17″ beadlock wheels and utilises 37″ aggressive tyres in conjunction with a 2″ lift. Below, the J6 possesses a 2″ stinger bar on the front bumper and has rock rails of the same circumference.

The JT Scrambler poses a mix of heritage and concept, with a retro colour scheme and graphics with numbers from the Mopar parts bin, plus some purely conceptual touches.

Combining the orange striping along the sides with a matching hood graphic, the JT channels the early ’80s CJ8 Scrambler. The truck bed has a custom spray liner and a 2″ prototype sport bar in body-matching white. Continuing the full length of the bed, the bars offer eight tie-down points.

On top there are four 5″ LED lights and two more on the A-pillars, and there are two 7″ numbers mounted on the front brush guard – each with 8,000-lumens from the Mopar parts bin.

It rides on 17″ wheels in a conceptual bronze hue, and it also sits 2″ taller and on 37″ tyres. The 3.6-litre V6 again makes an appearance, as does the Mopar cold-air intake and it also has a cat-back exhaust.

Last but not least is the Gladiator Gravity. This truck is a rock-climber that utilises part available from Mopar when the Gladiator launches.

The truck bed features cross-rails and a cargo carrier basket to serve secure storage whilst rock-climbing, along with a Mopar/Decked bed storage system for lockable storage space.

Its doors have been replaced with 2′ round steel tube doors from Mopar, whilst a mesh sun-bonnet retains the open-air feel but offers sun protection.

Sitting 2″ higher on the Mopar lift, the alloys fitted to the Gravity are 17″ with aggressive 35″ tyres. Heavy duty Mopar rock rails are in place to protect the chassis, and the Mopar black grille sits behind 7″ LED lights, with 5″ versions on the A-pillars.

To help the engine pull, the Gravity is upgraded with a cat-back exhaust and a cold-air intake, whilst the interior is Katzkin with tungsten stitching.

So now, the big question – which is your favourite?