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Isuzu D-Max gets three body styles

Isuzu first showed the new generation D-Max at a function in Thailand in October last year.

GOVERNMENT documents on the next Isuzu ute reveal Australia will get three body styles. The bad news is that Isuzu won't get its new D-Max ute range here until mid year after being stunned by the Thai floods. Holden and Isuzu shared the previous Colorado and D-Max - but now it's game on as they present two different products. 

Or do they? General Motors and Isuzu actually remain allies, with the chassis and many body panels being shared under an ongoing joint venture agreement.

The passenger cell, doors and roof are identical with Isuzu restyling the metal ahead of the windscreen and rear of the back doors. Holden has already released its Colorado and Isuzu is gearing up for a June launch.

According to vehicle import information, Isuzu shows it has applied to expand its ute range with a single-cab and an extended-cab body (featuring rear-opening side-access panels) either in cab-chassis or ute trim. 

The dual-cab body - previously the only D-Max offering in Australia - continues. No word yet, however, on the seven-seat SUV version that adds a roof over the ute's tray and slips in a third row of seats.

This wagon - which competes with the Mitsubishi Challenger and Nissan Pathfinder - is available in Asia. Isuzu first showed the new generation D-Max at a function in Thailand in October last year. 

Domestic demand meant the ute wasn't expected in Australia until early January but the Thai floods and tsunami pushed the delivery date out to about the middle of this year, says Isuzu Ute Australia spokesman Dave Harding. 

The one-tonne ute appears as an evolution of the current model but in fact the body and most mechanical components are new. It gets a stiffer ladder-frame chassis that has a longer wheelbase - up 45mm to 3095mm - and electronic stability control, emergency brake assist and ABS are standard. 

Other safety gear is front side airbags that deploy from the seats and curtain airbags, bring to six standard airbags within the cab. Externally the ute is bigger, leading to a more spacious cabin and longer rear doors for easy entry and egress to the rear seat in the dual-cab version.

Rear access was previously criticised because of the small doors. There is a new dashboard, connectivity to iPod and USB, and Bluetooth. The dash is shared with the Holden Colorado.

Isuzu has reworked its 3-litre turbo-diesel engine to punch 380Nm and 130kW. Australia will get this engine as standard and possibly bring in a 110kW/400Nm 2.5-litre turbo-diesel variant for a cheaper model. 

This small-bore, high-torque oiler gets a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission selection in Asia and some European countries. The company says the 3-litre's biggest change is the flat delivery of the torque through most of the rev range to make towing easier and aid drivability. 

The engine is mated to a choice of a five-speed automatic - up from the current four cogs - and a five-speed manual transmission. The 4WD version drives through an electric-engagement transfer case. It has a 3-tonne towing capacity and a payload of up to 1-tonne.