Eamonn Wall offers his thoughts on the Isuzu D-Max tipper conversion.

ISUZU is an old Japanese firm, established in 1916, which first imported its popular Trooper SUV into the UK in 1987. The 3.2L version was very popular, but was never replaced when Isuzu decided to focus on pickup trucks.

Its current D-Max pickup is a popular model, with prices spanning from £17,414 for the 4x2 single cab, up to £36,000 for a very fancy 4x4 double cab XTR. A more expensive artic version is available. The cheapest 4x4 double cab costs £21,314 plus VAT and makes for a good, reliable workhorse. The extended cab 4x4 version is about £20,000 plus VAT.Forestry Journal: Good off-road tyres on steel wheels.Good off-road tyres on steel wheels.

All are powered by a 1.9-litre four-cylinder diesel engine producing 164 bhp and 340 Nm of torque. Each model comes with 125,000-mile or five-year warranty with five years’ roadside assistance. Its engine provides the vehicle with 40 mpg and a towing capability of 3.5 tonnes, with a maximum payload of 1,161 kg. 2WD high, 4WD high and 4WD low are chosen via a rotary switch. It comes with steel wheels and off-road tyres.

READ MORE: WATCH: CPL releases new Isuzu D-Max access platform

Forestry Journal: Key control to prevent sudden drop.Key control to prevent sudden drop.

I test drove the extended cab version fitted with the tipper body. The extended body has wee jump seats in the rear and half-length doors that are hinged at the rear to present an easy access to where small folk could fit for short journeys. Two large storage boxes are located there, also acting as seats. It is a very useful storage area and the access, with the rear-hinged opening doors, is excellent.

Forestry Journal: The wide bed.The wide bed.

The last time I drove a D-Max was five years ago and then I found it to be a likeable vehicle, but I remember the top gear was too tall, meaning it would not cruise along happily at 60 mph. I remember constantly changing between fifth and sixth gears. I can now report this is no longer an issue, as it will travel along country roads at 50–60 mph comfortably in top gear, though the truck will still happily and fairly quietly cruise at above 70 mph. It is slow to get initial movement when cold, but soon skips along. However, I have heard that those doing a lot of towing have had to chip their engines to get adequate power for the job.

Forestry Journal: Side extensions are required for bulky, light loads.Side extensions are required for bulky, light loads.

The engine does rely on its turbo for power, but once on the move feels powerful enough. Brakes, suspension, steering and comfort are all adequate and it is certainly an easy vehicle to drive and, as with most unladen pickups, its ride is a bit jittery.

The tipper conversion takes place after the vehicle has been registered as an after-market conversion, carried out by TGS on behalf of Isuzu. It is a very professionally engineered piece of kit, costing £4,000 plus VAT. The load bay is 1,977 mm long and 1,800 mm wide and its floor comprises 18 mm-thick interlocking alloy floor panels. The side walls are 300 mm high. The tail board can open from top or bottom hinges and be removed altogether with the sides to give a flat bed.

Forestry Journal: The tipper’s yellow safety bar.The tipper’s yellow safety bar.

An electro-hydraulic power pack, activated by a wander lead housed beneath the rear seats, controls the lift once a safety key has been turned on the chassis. It works very well indeed and raises and lowers quickly.

It can hold approx 950 kg, and for lightweight materials, like loose firewood, extendable side walls would be needed. The tipper bed sits high and the rear panel slightly obscures rear view.

It looks like a really useful machine and I enjoyed driving it – nice and simple!Forestry Journal remains dedicated to bringing you all the latest news and views from across our industry, plus up-to-date information on the impacts of COVID-19.

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