THE features of the Isuzu D-Max continue to prove their worth during the second leg of the 2014 Isuzu D-Max 4×4 Drive Series, recently held in Mandaue, Cebu.
Followers of the brand, as well as the pickup itself, did not mind the blistering heat that marked the three-day event. Participants were thrilled with the event’s trail as it allowed them to know the real capability of the D-Max on nasty road conditions.
Isuzu Phils. Corp. (IPC) Executive Vice President Takashi Tomita said that Cebu was chosen as a venue for the five-part off-road driving series because of the “strong contribution of Cebuanos to the overall sales performance of the Isuzu D-Max since its launch in 2003”.
In Cebu, the D-Max’s monstrous features conquered the specially designed track made by Beeboy Bargas, who said that the pickup was able to do this thanks to its numerous 4×4 features. The off-road driving expert said a key to this is its limited-slip differential, which guarantees increased traction. Also helping is its stall control system that makes steep climbs seem like nothing, erasing worries that the truck might slide back. The new coil-over rear suspension (the old D-Max has torsion bars) improves wheel travel, too.
Bargas complimented the D-Max’s “best-in-class gear ratio of 4.1:1 that ensures low-speed traction” on ascents and insanely uneven terrain. The truck’s 4×4 option can be switched on via a knob on the console, or what Isuzu calls the 4WD Terrain Command Select Dial.
Further contributing to the D-Max’s performance are its high ground clearance of 235 millimeters, approach angle of 30 degrees and departure angle of 22.7 degrees. The pickup can also traverse a 49-degree side angle, a result of static stability factors like a wide track, long wheel base and a low center of gravity.
The D-Max amazed onlookers and participants as it traversed the track, which had obstacles that included a 40-degree hill climb; 40-degree hill climb with a stall midway up; 40-degree descent without braking; lateral-climb mount; “elephant holes;” trail ruts; camber right and camber left sides up at 40-degree angles; a roundabout cone; lateral-descent ditch crossing; cross axle articulation rails; and a steel inclined plane with rollers.
During the event, participants were taught by off-road driving experts the techniques needed to take on the track.
Cebu has narrow coastlines, rolling hills and rugged mountain ranges. And even in towns that lie in the flatlands, the terrain is not always paved or easily traversed. These make the D-Max 4×4 a relevant choice in the province.
Vice Mayor Glenn Vercede of Mandaue City told Tomita that the local government itself is a great follower of Isuzu. The local executive said they might get a small fleet of D-Max pickups for official use next year.
“The D-Max is amazing. The vehicle is very strong. I’m surprised it can climb those steep hills,” Vercede said.
Steve Gingco, general manager of Isuzu Cebu, expressed elation over the abilities of the D-Max, saying that the truck is “best suited for calamity-prone areas.”
“The improvements on the new version could handle environmental challenges in Cebu,” he said.
Eyeing More Sales
Tomita said there are now some 23,000 D-Max owners, and that IPC is hoping to increase the model’s annual sales by up to 20 percent.
Gingco forecast sales would shoot up after people have seen the abilities of the D-Max during the event. He also said that in Central Visayas, Isuzu is expected to sell some 500 units by yearend. For the first quarter of the year, around 200 units have been sold.
Gingco projected some 1,500 units coming from Isuzu’s full lineup will be sold in the region. There are five Isuzu dealerships in Central Visayas.
The 2014 D-Max 4×4 Drive Series is set to move to Bacolod City for the third leg on May 23 to 25, travels to Cagayan de Oro City on June 6 to 8 for the fourth, and culminates in Davao City on June 20 to 22.