BLACK clouds rumble over the horizon; there’s a storm coming and the ground is already swamped.
Last week the nimbus would have struck fear into my heart. Living in the country is no joke when you are driving a car and one night there was no option other than to abandon it in the village hall car park.
But this week things are different because the hatchback has been replaced by a pick-up, Isuzu’s excellent D-Max.
Now I titter in the face of torrents, I scoff at stair-rods, I flash through floods. Here is a vehicle so capable in the wet stuff it is only a small step away from being amphibious.
A good starting point is its lofty ride height, 235mm of ground clearance to be precise. That’s enough to ford the deepest of water. But if the murky fathoms are unfathomable you might have to leave the road, which is fine too, given the approach angle is 30 degrees, the departure angle 23 and the ramp angle 22.
Things get better still with the whole drive-train. The engine may be a modest sounding 2.5 litres but it develops and very impressive 163PS and a gargantuan 400Nm of pulling power. Coupled to a superb automatic gearbox and with the choice of 2WD, 4WD high and low ratios, there’s always going to be the capability of emerging from even the worst conditions our wonderful weather is still to hurl at us.
Some pick-ups fall down on refinement and economy. Not so the Isuzu which is smooth and will top 40mpg on the trip computer with care. Mixed motoring still sees a welcome 36 on the clock and that’s enough to put you at ease and even stop trying to drive economically.
The D-Max has real punch; load up the massive rear bay with over 1,000kg and off you go, no problem. It will also tow 3,000kg (braked trailer) or 750kg (unbraked).
Farmers and builders are going to love the D-Max, but so are the lifestyle merchants. There is nothing, repeat nothing, utilitarian about the Isuzu making it as easy to live with as any SUV – but with the added benefit of the mother-of-all load bays.
It drives just like a car with no handling foibles or issues of unwieldiness. Inside is as plush as any upmarket motor. It has cruise control and climate control, iPod, USB and Bluetooth connectivity and steering wheel controls, an attractive dash and trim, leather seats, which are heated for goodness sake, and a driver’s seat which is adjustable electrically.
Check out the folding heated door mirrors with side repeaters, the sexy front end with trick and trendy day time running lights and the LED rear sets. The 17in wheels are nice alloys, there are roof bars, projector headlamps and side steps. It is positively luxurious.
It is safe and secure too in so many ways with insurance approved immobiliser, ABS, electronic stability control and traction control, front side and curtain airbags.
And as the waters part for the D-Max, so do people and traffic. The world is wary of pick-ups because the public perception is that they are driven by people you shouldn’t mess with. So drive a D-Max and gain new-found respect. It is at home in the rough and tumble world of the town and city and equally at peace in the countryside.
In fact, in terms of a motoring experience, there are no clouds on the horizon, just plain sailing whatever the weather.