Isuzu D-Max 1.9 ‘Blue Power’ Finally Arrives

IT MIGHT have taken four years to come here but Isuzu supporters would finally be able to acquire the Isuzu D-Max 1.9-litre turbodiesel and enjoy the benefits that come with it, better fuel economy being one of them. The long wait was due to Isuzu Malaysia having to clear the existing stock of the 2.5-litre D-Max pick-up before it could commit to the 1.9-litre model that Isuzu Japan and Isuzu Thailand introduced in 2015.

And with the new engine comes a D-Max with some equipment and body updates to offer a current touch in looks and ambience. The most striking visual change is the fresh bi-LED (light emitting diode) projector headlamps with bold boomerang-type daytime running lights. This is complemented by the updated front grille, new foglamp garnish, sporty decals, sportier looking 18-inch alloy rims and the optional soft-touch tailgate assist for one-hand opening and closing operation.

Of course, the star of the show is the ‘revolutionary’ 1.9-litre turbodiesel engine. Going smaller in diesel engine displacement is not something new to Malaysians or rather the older set. In the early to mid-1980s, some Japanese car distributors introduced small displacement diesel engines in the local car market with limited success. The Nissan Sunny 1.7D and Isuzu/Opel Gemini 1.9D were among the few and Daihatsu even tested market response with a 1.0-litre diesel for its subcompact Charade.

Back to the current scenario, a small diesel engine displacement would be seen as revolutionary against the others that see displacements above the 2.0-litre standard. Before Isuzu came along with the D-Max 1.9-litre turbodiesel, Ford already enjoyed success here with its 2.2-litre turbodiesel Ranger over the last two years.

The RZ4E-TC ‘Blue Power’ 1898cc double overhead camshaft multi-valve engine comes with direct injection electronic Common-rail fuel feed and variable geometry turbocharger with intercooler. It delivers 110kW (150PS) at 3600rpm and 350Nm of torque from 1800-2600rpm. Power goes to the wheels via a six-speed automatic with sequential shift or manual transmission.

The previous 4JK engine, which displaces 2499cc, had lower outputs of 85kW (118PS) at 3600rpm and 280Nm from 1800-2200rpm. The transmission option was a five-speed unit in either automatic or manual operation.

Isuzu says the 1.9-litre ‘Blue Power’ turbodiesel, which was developed over four years, returns a 19-per cent improvement in fuel economy to bolster the D-Max’s already good fuel mileages. This was confirmed by tests conducted in Thailand. Aiding this was the lighter engine, a 56kg reduction from the 2.5-litre unit, which means less overall body weight to pull along.

At the same time, the engine sees a reduction in internal friction of 37 per cent and the result is less wear and tear on engine components, thus extending engine life expectancy and durability. The engine is also said to be more environmentally friendly with lower CO2 (carbon dioxide) emission and quieter running, while requiring less maintenance.

As a result of its cleaner running and fuel efficient status, the D-Max 1.9-litre ‘Blue Power’ turbodiesel is hailed as the first EEV (Energy Efficient Vehicle) certified pick-up truck in Malaysia. Having a smaller displacement engine also means paying lower road tax of under RM400 a year or down 52 per cent from that for the previous 2.5-litre model.

Perhaps what would be more warmly welcomed are the cheaper prices across the 11 model variants against the previous 2.5-litre model range; RM4000 cheaper for the four Premium models, RM2000 to RM6000 for the five Basic range and RM1000 to RM2000 lower for the two single cab variants.

To draw more interest to the new 1.9-litre ‘Blue Power’ D-Max, Isuzu Malaysia introduced two new models. This is the 1.9L 4x2 High Ride in the Premium automatic range that goes for about RM100,050 on the road without insurance (against RM104,600 for the Premium 4x2 model; individual purchase).

The other model is the 1.9L 4x2 Low Ride in the manual transmission Basic range that retails for about RM80,150 against RM86,700 for the higher spec 4x2 model. These prices are said to make the new 1.9-litre D-Max the cheapest among the pick-up trucks in Malaysia.

As for engine and vehicle durability, Isuzu Malaysia also took the occasion to honour an Isuzu D-Max owner – Cheah Chee Ying – for covering the most mileage ever at more than 880,000 kilometres without an engine overhaul. Cheah, who operates a lorry maintenance business, received a RM15,000 grand prize. He uses his 2011 Isuzu D-Max 3.0 Automatic to travel all over the peninsula in the course of his business and continues to do so.