“So if you think of getting one this year, better act fast”.
Isuzu is very well-known for making tough and reliable bakkies that can be driven anywhere on the planet.
In fact, my dad owned a 1997 Isuzu KB that was a pleasure to have around, sadly, an accident claimed its life and that was the end of it.
The bakkie segment is one competitive one and manufacturers are always at it with regards to who sells more units on a monthly basis. Clearly, there is nothing wrong with that.
Before the end of 2019, Isuzu introduced its Arctic AT35 that is aimed at avid off-roaders, professionals who need to travel to inaccessible places, it is reliable and can be driven anywhere.
You might not get to see a lot of them on the road because they are only available on an exclusive order only basis with a projected 50 units to be built annually in Port Elizabeth.
So if you think of getting one this year, better act fast.
Look at the Isuzu Arctic AT35 as the Ranger Raptor of Isuzu. It is big and it means business.
“Arctic Trucks are engineered for people who need to do tough jobs in tough environments, combining this attribute with Isuzu heritage of engineering tough, reliable bakkies is guaranteed to surprise and delight our customers”, says Dominic Rimmer, IMSAF Executive for Technical Services.
It is based on the new D-Max 3.0 Double Cab 4×4 in LX trim and adds Fox Performance suspension and dampers plus raised height.
The Arctic AT35 sits 1980 mm high plus an impressive 268 mm of ground clearance that let us tackle even the roughest terrains. The wading depth is measured at 718 mm.
It runs on gigantic 17-inch AT alloy wheels and 35-inch tyres.
Inside, it boasts similar kit to the one you find in the range-topping D-Max bakkie such as a 7-inch full-colour touch screen that incorporates the display for the rear-view camera. There are three USB ports (two in front and one at the back), Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, SatNav hands-free cell phone use and audio streaming.
All the above mentioned make the Arctic stand out of the crowded bakkie scene where the likes of the VW Amarok, Mercedes X-Class, Toyota Hilux and Mazda BT-50 aim to give SUV-style luxury to the sector, the D-Max is a more utilitarian choice.
Power comes courtesy of a 3.0-litre intercooled turbodiesel engine plus a 6-speed automatic transmission. It is not the quietest or most powerful diesel on sale yet it gets the job done in a very pleasing manner.
Point the AT35 on the road and you get a familiar ride, however, the rear suspension is designed with a heavy payload in mind, it does not jitter around with no load in there – something that I have experience with key competitors.
It feels at home when driven off-road, thanks to the larger tyres and Fox shock absorbers, road imperfections are well-taken care of.
The Isuzu Arctic AT 35 is available in one derivative at a recommended retail price of R 785 000.00 including VAT.
- It can go anywhere
- Excellent ground clearance
- Too big for most parking lots
What I think
If you are in the market for a bakkie that gets really happy when driven off-road rather than driving it on tar, then why not get the Arctic AT35?
How it is built
The Isuzu Arctic AT35 begins life inside the Struandale body shop where it is welded together with a combination of robotic welding machines and handheld tools alongside regular D-MAX models.
Once the cabin and load bay are completed the body in white (unpainted metal) is then moved into a special Arctic Trucks conversion area within the body shop. It’s here where the real work begins as a select group of handpicked Isuzu artisans and technicians begin the process of transforming a D-MAX into an Isuzu Arctic AT35.
“The Isuzu Arctic AT35 is built from the ground up on the same production line as regular Isuzu D-MAX bakkies. This process allows us to ensure strict quality control measures are in place at an early stage which in turn means no compromise on the structural integrity or rustproofing on this vehicle,” says Johan Vermeulen, IMSAF Executive Manufacturing and Supply Chain.
The conversion is carried out by a team of highly experienced Isuzu manufacturing toolmakers who ply their meticulous skill in crafting bigger wheel wells and arches to accommodate the larger tyres and beefed-up suspension. Working alongside them is an Isuzu Manufacturing System (IMS) engineer whose job is to ensure compliance with IMS standards and processes.
“The three artisans who are responsible for the work done in the body shop have more than 60 years’ experience between them. Their core responsibilities before joining this project included ensuring dimensional conformance of work done in the body shop as well as carrying out maintenance on manufacturing-related tools and equipment”
“All the cutting and welding happens before the vehicle is transferred back to the regular production line for its a journey through the paint shop where it undergoes e-coat and painting. This means that Isuzu Arctic AT35 models are covered by the same 5 years/ Unlimited km Anti-Corrosion Warranty as all D-MAX models”
An Isuzu Arctic AT 35 spends two days in the body shop compared to a regular D-MAX which is completed in just a few hours.
Once the body has been painted, the journey continues through the general assembly area until the AT35 is pulled off the line once again for the final stage of the conversion which sees the vehicle transformed with the fitment of the wheel arch mouldings which accommodate the 35 inch BF Goodrich All-Terrain Tyres.
Here just two technicians carry out the final work by hand over a three day period before the vehicle is ready for the final quality checks and inspection before being released for shipment to the customer.
This article first appeared @whipdt