Just testing: Isuzu D-Max Blade 4x4 Double Cab Auto

Our motoring man gets his hands on a prize-winning pick-up

By Tim Gibson

A funny thing happened during my week with the Isuzu D-Max Blade. I came to think that anything was possible, that even the wackiest idea or most ambitious adventure was well within my grasp.

    The D-Max is a commanding beast, especially in lifestyle Blade specification.  

This feeling of capability, of not being bound by the constraints of conventional living, was liberating, joy-making and empowering.

I guess that’s the effect of driving a vehicle that oozes confidence. The D-Max is a commanding beast, especially in lifestyle Blade specification. It has just enough chrome to unleash your inner cowboy, without being as in-your-face aggressive as competition in the form of the Ford Ranger and Nissan Navara.

What the D-Max denotes first and foremost is a practical ability to cope with anything you throw at it. Towing the caravan to Devon for a weekend’s holiday? Sorted. Loading up with hedge trimmings for a trip to the tip? Done. Piling the kids and their gear on board for a day at the Cotswold Wildlife Park? Easy peasy.

It’s no wonder that the D-Max was named as Pick-Up of the Year in the What Van? Awards 2019. It’s a competent working vehicle that is perfectly at home in a mucky farmyard or construction site and lives to pull a heavy trailer along behind.

I took it to the Head Office of a quarrying company in the Mendip Hills and noticed that every time a dumper driver or loading shovel operator rumbled past, their head snapped around to admire the gleaming red truck in the car park.

That speaks of some of the D-Max’s defining characteristics. For all that it feels supremely at home slogging it out in the rough stuff, it has a certain elegant countenance, accentuated by the Blade edition’s smart paint job. It is also pretty good to drive.

Okay, so the combination of a one-tonne payload (crucial to preserving its tax status as a commercial vehicle) and leaf-sprung rear axle is never going to make for the smoothest of rides over undulating surfaces. Compared to a family car, the D-Max inevitably feels cumbersome and sluggish on the turn.

But once you get used to driving a vehicle that’s designed to lug bags of cement or dead sheep around the countryside, there’s a certain lulling calm to proceedings.

The 164PS 1.9-litre turbo diesel engine revs freely and generously, so despite its diminutive displacement you never want for get up and go. Drive with a steady right foot, gently accelerating and braking, and you soon become accustomed to the pick-up experience.

When it comes to manoeuvring, the D-Max is unnervingly nimble. On a family trip to the dentist, for example, Mrs Gibson was amazed (and, I like to think, more than a little impressed) when I reverse-parked into an estate-car-sized space. My performance was aided by parking sensors and a crystal-clear reversing camera, making it easy to spot the truck’s parameters and keep it in the gaps.

    When it comes to manoeuvring, the D-Max is unnervingly nimble.  

The elevated driving position helps, too. Even in the routine rub of daily driving, there’s an unparalleled joy to be had from sitting high above the hoi polloi.

More than that, with such a commanding view of the road it’s easier to anticipate the misdeeds of fellow motorists, taking preventative action when necessary.

In all these ways, the D-Max compares well with your average family SUV. Sure, it’s not quite as refined as a KIA Sorento or Ford Edge. But it’s demonstrably different from these more humdrum vehicles, thanks to its hard-working credentials.

The D-Max compares favourably to vehicles at the more utilitarian end of the spectrum. Consider the archetypal workhorse, the Land Rover Defender, as a case in point. Doughty it may be, but it’s by no means a car to be driven any real distance unless you don’t mind ear-bleeding levels of noise and back-jarring discomfort.

Contrast the D-Max Blade with its leather-clad heated seats and comfortable accommodation for five passengers and you have to say that Isuzu has this lifestyle truck thing pretty much licked.

The D-Max’s appeal is about more than plush trim, though. It benefits from a variety of helpful little touches, such as a dampened tailgate that glides gracefully down when loading, and keyless entry that makes life easier when your hands are full. That said, it would be good if the entry system were activated all around the car, rather than just at the driver’s door. When piling kids in the back, it’s actually quicker to unlock using the remote key fob, which rather misses the point.

While we’re on the subject of tech that doesn’t quite hit the spot, the Blade’s infotainment system is by no means a pleasure to use. The touch screen is laggy and confusing. It took me 10 minutes to work out how to programme the sat nav and then it gave loud directions far more frequently than I needed throughout our journey, annoyingly cutting over my son’s carefully prepared playlist.

These are small niggles, which speak of the difference between a vehicle like the D-Max and a more conventional SUV. Where it wins is in the bang-for-your-buck stakes. Buy a lifestyle 4x4 with this amount of kit and you’ll pay a lot more than the D-Max Blade’s on-the-road price of £35,707.80.

What is more, you won’t feel anything like as inspired. There’s something about the D-Max: it makes you feel different, like you’re making a statement without being flash. It instils confidence.

In my week with the Isuzu, I decided I’d train for a cross-country ultra marathon, sail solo across the Atlantic and launch a forest school. 

I may not actually do any of these things, but that’s not the point. All the time I was driving the D-Max, I felt very much that I could. By my reckoning, that’s a pretty good reason to own one.

On test

  • Isuzu D-Max Blade 4x4 Double Cab Automatic
  • 164PS
  • 36.2mpg combined (official figures)
  • 0-62mph in 13 seconds
  • 205g/km CO2 emissions
  • Price: £35,707 (including VAT, and look out for favourable contract hire rates if a business user)

Tim Gibson has written about cars for 25 years. His work regularly appears in The Daily Telegraph and other national media.

Published: 9 August 2019

© 2019 Just Recruitment Group Ltd

If you enjoyed this article, you may like: Just testing: how to pick up a tax break on your next company car

You may also enjoy: Just cooking: barbecue rotisserie prime ribs of beef

Jobs currently available

New job
Assistant Branch Manager
Sector: Sales
Salary: £29,000 - £30,000 per annum
Location: Chelmsford, Essex
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909854
About the role

Just Recruitment is seeking an enthusiastic Assistant Branch Manager to join a company based in Chelmsford.

This is an excellent opportunity to join a growing organisation - offering a competitive salary and company bonus. Monday to Friday, 7.30am - 5pm and every other Saturday morning - overtime is paid. 

Free parking.

Company bonus scheme.

Previous experience within a Builders / Plumbers merchants is essential.

Personal attributes:

  • A hard-working polite team player.
  • A self-motivated person who understands the importance of getting the job done and/or responding to the customer as promised, and on time.
  • Should be punctual, well presented and like to operate in a clean and tidy manner.
  • Positive with a friendly "can do" attitude.
  • A good listener who is keen to learn, develop new skills and "get on" in the business.
  • Thoughtful and resourceful, someone who enjoys solving problems.
  • Real ambition and a desire to succeed would be beneficial as the role offers excellent opportunities to progress in the future. 
Read more
New job
Project Manager
Sector: Engineering and Manufacturing
Salary: £30,000 - £40,000 per annum
Location: Sudbury Suffolk
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909743
About the role

Just Recruitment is recruiting for a Project Lead / Manager to join a company based in Sudbury Suffolk, on a fixed-term contract basis.

You will be an experienced project manager working with one of the company’s strategic suppliers, to move key electrical raw material components from their facility in the UK to the one in Romania.

The project manager will be the key liaison between the supplier and the company and is expected to keep the supplier on track with the expectations and standards of the team.

Candidate requirements:

You will have experience in working within a manufacturing environment and moving either manufacturing lines or supply lines across borders.

You will also have Medical device or Pharmaceutical experience.

We are looking at 6-12 month fix term contract with relevant notice periods.

Salary is negotiable depending on experience.

Read more
New job
Part-time Administrator
Sector: Public Service and Administration
Salary: Competitive depending on experience
Location: Sudbury
Role: Part Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909844
About the role

Just Recruitment is looking for an Administrator on behalf of a company based in Sudbury.

The role involves being part of a small and friendly team on a part-time basis, working 2-3 days per week.

Duties to include:

  • Opening post
  • Franking post
  • Greeting clients
  • Answering telephone
  • Banking procedures
  • Filing
  • Setting up new client files (electronic and paper)
  • Maintaining current client files (electronic and paper)
  • Assisting with the smooth running of systems
  • Monitoring books in / books out
  • Liaising with other branches
  • Client billing
  • GDPR and Money Laundering paperwork (a strong understanding of this is essential)

May evolve to include other duties and responsibilities.

Read more
Sector: Creative Arts and Design
Salary: £25,000 - £30,000 per annum
Location: Colchester
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909835
About the role

Are you a skilled designer looking for your next role?

Do you have luxury branding/magazine experience – including motion graphics (aftereffects) & digital design (social media etc)?

As a creative team member, you will be required to contribute to the wider creative thinking of a business based in Colchester, improving designs or presentations whilst working to tight deadlines.

You will be required to work in collaboration with the wider studio team and furthermore with the other departments across the business to produce the best possible outcome for each project worked on.

You will also be contributing towards the design presentations, so attention to detail and high standards in your work is a must.

Job responsibilities:

  • Creation of high-quality concept designs for necessary projects.
  • To work alongside the studio team to understand the project requirements and deliver them in accordance with the written brief.
  • To liaise and communicate effectively with the Client Services team to ensure the desired outcome is reached and the creative output complies with the needs of any marketing and strategic requirements.
  • Supporting the Creative Director and Head of Creative in bringing branding, design themes and relevant creative projects to life.
  • Responsible for managing and organising allocated projects efficiently and meeting their necessary deadlines.
  • To contribute to the delivery of client, new business or pitch presentations.
  • Any other ad-hoc duties required by the Creative Director or Head of Creative.

Person specification:

  • A relevant degree or similar level/achievement.
  • A previous position held within a similar role.

Knowledge and skills:

  • Highly proficient in Adobe Creative Software – InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Acrobat and AfterEffects.
  • Ability to multi-task various goals and objectives.
  • Deadline driven.
  • Excellent planning and organisational skills.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Exceptional attention to detail.

Personal qualities:

  • A strong team player.
  • Ability to work to tight deadlines.
  • An ambitious and driven individual.
  • Be able to work under pressure to meet in deadlines.

This is an excellent opportunity for a creative individual to join a fast-paced organisation on the outskirts of Colchester.

Offering a great package - depending on skills and experience - free parking is available on site.

Read more
Sector: Creative Arts and Design
Salary: £25,000 - £30,000 per annum
Location: Colchester
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909836
About the role

Are you a skilled Videographer/Video Editor looking for an exciting opportunity?

Do you have a creative/graphic design background?

This is an exciting time to join a growing organisation - based on the outskirts of Colchester.

Working as part of the creative team you will be involved in the planning, design and production of video content as directed.

This area of the business has big plans for growth and expansion, therefore this role has been created to drive us forward – you will have an eye for creativity, excellent organisation skills and a strong desire to produce standout video content.

Involvement at all stages of the creative process from interpreting the brief, keeping strategy and target audience in mind, working with the team to develop the storyboard, creating a visual style, planning the shoot days or production schedule, and ultimately providing our clients with final assets that are suitable for implementation across specific media channels.

Ensuring that projects are delivered on time and to the highest standard possible.

Key abilities:

  • Able to keep strategy and objectives in mind throughout the process to ensure not only the best creative output, but also the best results for our clients.
  • A good understanding of various types of cameras, different lenses and how to create a certain shot.
  • Full and competent understanding of Adobe After Effects, Adobe Premier Pro (or comparable alternatives) will be expected.
  • Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop would be preferable.
  • Proven examples of video editing, sound editing and post-production videos.
  • Proficiency in 3D applications such as Cinema 4D or 3DS Max would be advantageous to the role but not essential.
  • Strong design understanding including layout, colour application, typography and illustration plus storyboarding ideas and concepts will be required.

You will possess a positive and ‘can do’ attitude and have a highly organised approach you will be able to remain calm under pressure and quickly solve any problems in a professional manner.

Having exceptional attention to detail and communication skills, both written and verbal – you will have a genuine passion for creativity and design together with a strong affinity with video and a spirited desire to push themselves and the boundaries of what we can achieve.

This is an excellent opportunity to join a well-regarded organisation - offering an excellent package and opportunity to be instrumental in the growth of this area of the business.

Read more
Sales Administrator
Sector: Public Service and Administration
Salary: £18,000 per annum
Location: Earls Colne
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909834
About the role

Just Recruitment is looking for a Sales Administrator on behalf of a company based on the outskirts of Colchester.

The role of the Sales Administrator is to support and assist the Sales team with their administration.

Main responsibilities:

  • Accurate data input onto an in-house database
  • Compiling instruction letters to agents
  • Adding properties to Rightmove & directing enquiries to sales neg team
  • Emailing estate agents regarding price reductions and changes with marketing
  • Supporting the sales team with ad-hoc duties
  • Organise property inspections and contractors (such as cleaning, gardening, etc)
  • Keeping the management team informed with changes impacting their account
  • Updating spreadsheets if required
  • Able to work as part of a team as well as individually
  • Be able to follow GDPR rules and regulations
  • Scanning documents and saving them to database

Relevant skills and experience:


  • Accuracy and attention to detail
  • Excellent customer service
  • Experience in Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Experience with google sheets and SharePoint is desirable
  • Able to work well under pressure
  • Confident on the telephone
  • Organised and reliable
  • Good command of the written and verbal English language
  • Professional
  • General administration

  • Previous experience of working with housebuilders and housing associations
  • Property knowledge

You MUST have your own transport due to the location of the company.

Read more
Account Manager – Property
Sector: Property and Construction
Salary: £27,000 - £30,000 per annum
Location: Earls Colne
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909833
About the role

Just Recruitment is looking for an Account Manager on behalf of a company based on the outskirts of Colchester.

The primary role of the Account Manager is to maintain and develop clients’ accounts. They will also be responsible for supporting the Directors where appropriate, in the wider needs of their clients.

Main responsibilities:

  • Build and develop allocated clients accounts
  • Compile research to produce property valuation appraisals
  • Maintain regular client contact to ensure they are up to date with all existing applications; from applications to exchange
  • Ensure client timescales are adhered to and, where appropriate, liaise with client regarding concerns
  • Oversee the entire sales process from application to legal completion and support team members to promote good working practices;
    • Proactively manage allocated Assistant Account Manager to ensure 24-hour turnaround of Property Valuation Appraisal
    • Proactively manage Account Coordinator to ensure valuations are booked in as quickly as possible and all associated duties are completed on time
    • Proactively work alongside Head of the Sales Negotiation Team to ensure properties are sold at the best possible price to the right buyer, negotiation on plot sales on a part
      exchange or assisted move property
    • Proactively manage allocated Head of the Sales Progression Team to facilitate swift legal completion
  • Carry out regular site visits to develop and maintain relationships with client Sales Consultants and Sales Directors
    • Presenting products and services
    • Training Sales Consultants
    • Gathering monthly and quarterly KPI’s
  • Achieve targets as set by the company
  • Ensure company appointed processes are adhered to at all times
    Maintain the company values at all times when interacting with colleagues and clients

Person specification
Relevant skills and experience:

  • Previous experience of building relationships and excellent customer service skills
  • Experience of presenting to groups and training
  • Previous experience of working for an estate agency
  • Experience in valuing properties
  • Good command of English language both written and verbal
  • Keen attention to detail
  • Organised with the ability to meet tight deadlines
  • IT literate; database experience, MS Office, Word, Excel
  • Previous experience of working with housebuilders and housing associations
  • Part exchange and assisted move knowledge

You MUST have their own transport due to the location of the company.

Read more