If last week’s icy blast wreaked havoc with your daily commute, you’re in the wrong vehicle. You need this very special Isuzu D-Max At35. Fettled by Icelandic pick-up modifiers Arctic Trucks, this D-Max is built to conquer whatever extremes mother nature can throw at it.
Arctic Trucks have a track record of building some incredible and outrageous exploration vehicles. They are probably best known for building the red Toyota that featured in an episode of Top Gear a few years backon the Beeb.
With 25 years as bespoke vehicle builders, the Arctic Trucks portfolio also includes defence vehicles with armory and the ability to overcome any terrain at any time. What this means for the D-Max is that Isuzu reliability is joined by enhanced ability and some exclusivity.
Only 36 Isuzu dealers across the UK offer the AT35 and John Barr Cars in Crumlin just happen to be in that elite group. Life for an AT35 starts with an order at the dealer, at which point Isuzu UK send the model ordered to Arctic Trucks (AT) to undergo its gargantuan transformation. Fox Performance provide the high travel suspension trickery and a set of imposing 17” x 10” wheels in either black or silver fitted with 315/70/17 Nokian tyres are added. In order to accommodate the wheels a colour coded arch widening kit is bonded to the truck and given a factory finish.
Due to the Himalayan height of the D-Max AT35, widened side steps have been added to help with climbing into the cabin and parachuting back to the ground.
The look of the truck is complemented by a full set of side window, wind deflectors as well as chrome roll bars around the back of the cab over the load bay. The truck bed is also fitted with a load liner, whilst a neat feature is the gas strut assisted tailgate. No flapping or banging here, just a sweet, smooth action. Below the tailgate is a detachable tow bar and as you would expect, the AT35 is rated to tow 3500 kg.
The AT35 has a road presence that could only be bettered by Big Foot itself. It is massive, unmissable and means business but to some will be a little too in your face. Personally I absolutely love it and feel that is it best suited to the adventurist ownership who don’t like to conform.
Inside is untouched by AT and as such electric, heated black leather in the front comes as standard on this model which could perhaps do with a little more bolster support whilst the leather continues into the rear with plenty of room both front and back for four adults on a long drive.
Electric windows and mirrors come as standard whilst the steering wheel has controls for the cruise control, Bluetooth and infotainment system. Comfort in the cabin is aided with climate control and air con whilst safety on the road can be controlled via the drive mode knob behind the gear stick.
Infotainment is provided via a simple to use, Pioneer touch screen system which offers sat nav, Bluetooth, DAB radio and I am pretty sure CD playback also. Engine wise the AT35 is equipped with Isuzu’s single offering, the 2500cc twin turbo diesel producing a healthy 163bhp with a more than adequate 295lb/ft of torque via a 6sp manual gearbox (as tested) or a 5 speed auto box which is an option.
This unit offers plenty of grunt and all within a very usable and eco-friendly rev range making it perfectly suited for heavy loads in the flat bed as well as towing. Fuel economy used to be an alien concept for pick ups, however the D-Max will return a surprising yet very welcomed mid 30’s mpg.
One thing I did notice over the standard D-Max, is that the AT35 needs a bit more of a workout up and down the ‘box due to the big tyres. But nothing that would put me off in the slightest as once driven for a few miles I got used to its mannerisms.
As expected from a commercial vehicle, it doesn’t drive like a car, was never designed to drive like a car and never will drive like a car. However it is well grounded and firm (a little bouncy on a very bumpy road due to lift kit) and didn’t have a huge amount of body roll and was predictable when cornering.
Off road the D-Max AT35 is more than capable and at the simple turn of a dial you can change from 2H (2 wheel drive high), 4H (2 wheel drive high) and 4L (4 wheel drive low). This gear selection is all very smart and actually allows you to “shift on fly” which pretty much means you can change the drive setting of the AT35 as you drive.
In low range, the AT35 feels unstoppable. Slow crawls over undulating rough ground are like meat and drink to this D-Max. The rear diff has smart lock technology which allows it to automatically lock when it feels the terrain getting a little tough allow you to focus on where you are steering.
The Isuzu AT35 is available for around £33k, with a 5 year 100k mile warranty. For a pick up truck, that might be pricey. But this D-Max is modified to order by off-road specialists, which makes the truck an alluring package for something that is tailored, tough and unlike anything else.