The #Bold experience - Part 2
“Usually, I like to have the vehicle lifted, just so that you could all see the amount of work that went into these new vehicles. The team has put in tremendous effort to make these the toughest D-Maxs in the world,” Kevin Fouche, Isuzu SA executive for product planning and programme management, boasted.
After a safety briefing by South African motorsport legend and lead instructor for the Isuzu Driving Academy Grant McCleery, the 16-strong convoy of D-Maxs and MU-Xs in their various specifications set off from the Goanikontes Oasis for an experience none would forget.
Great on gravel
The My.Na Cars team first hopped in the range-topping MU-X Onyx, which made for a mesmerising start to our day-long excursion. Its updated chassis and suspension made for a supple and sure-footed ride through the twisty gravel roads of the Dorob National Park, allowing us to be totally immersed is the ancient landscape which was unfolding around every turn.
The drive-mode settings, coupled with its highly sophisticated terrain response systems such as traction and stability control, its hearty three-litre engine and fast-shifting six-speed automatic gearbox allowed the Onyx’s 140 kW to be properly exercised, while its comprehensive safety systems made us feel so secure that not once did our minds wander to question the efficacy of its five-star NCAP safety rating.
Terrific on tar
Getting back on tarred roads was barely noticeable, with the ride comfort hardly changing as we soaked up the large and luxurious interior. The three-dimensional layout has a solid and elegant design with rich materials. Gentle elegant lines are finished with layered soft touch materials and an impressive level of craftsmanship which is designed to appeal to all senses.
A smaller, sporty leather wrapped steering wheel and the gear selector are shaped to fit comfortably in the driver’s hands, while the Onyx’s new seats, wrapped in supple leather, cushion occupants even further.
The new nine-inch infotainment system helped fill the extremely well insulated interior with atmosphere, especially thanks to the fact that we could plug our Wi-Fi router into the built-in two-point plug, negating the need to set up the vehicle’s built-in Wi-Fi system.
After turning heads as we drove through the industrial idyll of Walvis Bay, we got out to lower our tyre pressure down to one bar and set off past the pink flamingo-filled expanses of the salt factory drying pans, into the majestic Namib Naukluft sea of dunes.
After passing a visibly intrigued pack of black-backed jackals, we stopped for a break, as well as safety and sustainable off-road driving briefing before heading into the dunes.
“Over the years, Isuzu has always been a leader in various innovations. From producing the first production vehicle with diff-lock as well as the first turbo-diesel production engines, the 'shift on the fly' functionality, which allows you to engage 4H at up to 100km/h simply by turning a switch, is another first for the industry,” MCcleery explained.
“Momentum and steering are also key considerations. There’s a fine line between going too slowly up a down dune and getting hung up, or going too fast and taking off. Secondly, keep your steering inputs to a minimum, because the turning scrubs off your speed, and we are in a sensitive environment, so we must take every precaution to leave a minimal a footprint as possible,” he emphasised.
After explaining how to disengage the traction control, we set off to tackle some of the world’s highest dunes, which was an absolute cinch with only two recoveries needed - one being due to a pesky passenger switching the vehicle into 2H while the driver was out of the car.
All new Isuzu D-Max models come standard with impressive safety credentials such as anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist.
Also added to the mix are electronic stability control with traction control, hill-start assist, hill-descent control and trailer-sway control.
The range-topping V-Cross was an absolute pleasure to play with, as it conquered the dunes with ease and comfort -so much so that our initially squeamish marketing coordinator Lindi later eagerly kicked me out of the driver’s seat to tick off her first drive in a sandy expanse, powering up large dunes and confidently navigating slip-faces thanks to its intelligent hill-descent control system.
After a couple of hours of fun, it was time to head back to our moon landscape base, and thanks to the V-Cross' intelligent driver assist system that incorporates a comprehensive suite of active and passive safety features - including forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning system, lane departure prevention, lane-keep assist system, blind spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, front and rear parking aid and multi-collision brake - rush hour traffic on the highway was a stress-free affair.
Owning the old world
Once back in the Dorob National Park, navigating tight paths through age-old boulders and sensing our time behind the wheels of these amazing machines, attendees could be seen eagerly snapping away selfies with their new favourite rides at every opportunity.
The Isuzu #Bold experience was truly one for the books and definitely a fitting introduction to this incredible new generation of vehicles.
There’s no doubt that you should head down to your nearest Auas Motors dealership to see these vehicles in the steel. Or better yet, book a test drive and experience these incredible Isuzus for yourself.