By D’Drift Team
Without a doubt, the Isuzu D-Max 1.9 Blue Power is a formidable, reliable workhorse.
It was extremely satisfying to feel the surge of power instantly coursing through the D-Max 1.9 Blue Power as we set off from our office in Kuching under a bright blue sky and unrelenting sun on the first day of the D’Drift Adventure on June 29.
We nicknamed our ride the ‘Blue Stallion’ due to its striking metallic blue colour paint coat, and we could not have picked a better steed for the grueling 10-day journey ahead.
Driving along the Samarahan Expressway was akin to a ‘walk in the park’ as we left early in the day after Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah flagged us off from our office at Stutong Tranquility.
Prior to that, we had a brief breakfast with the minister and other invited guests, followed by a press conference. In his opening remarks, Abdul Karim praised Isuzu for its willingness to corporate with DayakDaily to participate in the expedition which will highlight Sarawak’s ‘hidden gems’.
As we roared along the Samarahan Expressway, we did not forget to top up the fuel tank to gauge the Blue Stallion’s fuel efficiency throughout the journey.
Our first destination was Kampung Batu Lin which is about 30km from Serian Town. From Kampung Batu Lin, we explored the splendour of the Silabur Caves which took us almost the whole afternoon before we rushed back to Serian to file in our stories.
During the journey back, the Blue Stallion showed its prowess on the road especially its firm grip of the uneven terrain. This was the time I opted to engage its manual-select gear which produced extra power to conquer the road completely. Shifting gears was very smooth and driving was rather effortless with power steering.
Its additional features such as the rear camera was very useful as the Blue Stallion is spacious for its capacity of just 1.9cc. Even then, its power was not compromised, as it felt as though it has a 2.5cc engine. Yes, seriously.
The Blue Stallion also got put through its paces along the Pan Borneo Highway which is undergoing construction, and thus provided extra challenges to travel along the stretch between Sibu and Bintulu.
After a pitstop in Bintulu for the night, we woke up early to venture into a relatively undiscovered location — Lusong Laku Waterfall.
The journey there took us about six hours — travelling 45km of the completed Pan Borneo Highway in Bintulu to Bakun Road, taking Murum Road and later heading towards the Tegulang Resettlement Scheme before taking the final 32km of extremely bad road, which ironically according to our tour guide Danny Leni, was ‘in good condition’. This was because, prior to our visit, the road had been in worse condition — bogged with mud and unsurpassable to most if not any vehicle.
The 32km stretch which should have taken just half-an-hour to drive on any normal road, took us almost one-and-a-half hours long.
Besides winding like a snake, and being steep and hilly, the road is also very dangerous as it is narrow. One could see the deep ravines on the left and right sides of the road. We left it to Danny to handle the wheel on that stretch as we were not familiar with the area. It was also partly due to time constraint, so we had no choice but to leave the experience of driving on such rugged terrain for another day.
But this is how Danny summarised his 12 hours of driving the Blue Stallion: “It is very powerful, strong and fuel efficient. Any other 4WD would have needed a refuel deep in the jungle of Borneo whereby the source of fuel is unreliable. Thus, I give my thumbs-up to the overall performance of this new Isuzu D-Max model.”
From Bintulu to Miri, the Blue Stallion took us along the Coastal Road between with much comfort as it tackled the sharp bends, twists and turns with confidence, navigating the snake-like road with ease while the suspension worked well to absorb the shocks and bumps. It has no problem taking in sudden stops and surfing the ‘waves’ of the bumpy roads as well.
It was unfortunate that we had to leave our beloved workhorse behind when we had to fly over to Limbang for the final leg of our journey to visit the Buda Caves due to certain travel restrictions imposed by Brunei. Time constraints meant we had to opt to travel by air instead.
However, when we retuned to Miri on July 8, we took the Blue Stallion for a spin and took pictures of it posed in front of many of the city’s most renown landmarks and icons.
The D-Max 1.9 Blue Power is actually designed to meet future requirements for reduced fuel consumption and lower carbon emissions. Its new 1898cc engine surpasses all its design parameters despite its small displacement by increasing engine performance and durability for better economy, while lowering NVH, friction and operating cost.
The resulting breakthroughs, particularly in its low fuel consumption and CO2 led to the 1.9-litre Isuzu D-Max being the very first pick-up truck in the country to be certified based on UN Regulations 101 with the Energy Efficient Vehicle (EEV) status by the Road Transport Department of Malaysia (JPJ).
CEO of Isuzu Malaysia Koji Nakamura pointed out the new Isuzu D-Max 1.9-litre Blue Power was revoluntionery as it combined cutting-edge technology and Isuzu know-how to provide users with the ideal combination of durability, performance and economy.
“Pick-up truck users place a high demand on their vehicles to help them get the job done. They require trucks that are intrinsically capable, operating with minimum fuss or cost. In this respect, the new Isuzu D-Max offers excellent value from its enhanced performance, lower fuel consumption, lower operating costs and with the road tax structure in many parts of Malaysia, lower road tax too,” said Nakamura.
To extend the benefits of the new Isuzu D-Max to a wider audience, Isuzu Malaysia has focused part of its range of eleven variants towards the business segment starting with the new entry, the 1.9-litre low ride 4×2 manual model which is directly aimed at serving the business community.
Developed internally over four years by Isuzu Motors in Japan, the engine boasts technical breakthroughs which have resulted in a higher engine output of 150PS @ 3,600rpm (up by 10 per cent) and 350Nm of torque (up by nine per cent) between 1,800 and 2,600rpm over the existing 2.5-litre 4JK1-TCX.
While engine output has increased, there has been no sacrifice to Isuzu’s legendary fuel economy or dependability. Tests conducted in Thailand even show a 19 per cent improvement in fuel economy while a reduction in internal friction by 37 per cent suggests that there will be less wear on engine components as well, thereby increasing the life expectancy of the engine.
Coupled to a new transmission system, the RZ4E offers a performance level that is superior to the 2.5-litre from the get-go. With six forward cogs for both the manual and automatic gearboxes, the new Isuzu D-Max makes the most use of the new engine characteristic to provide improved acceleration and overtaking while offering relaxed cruising from its two overdrive top gears.
The new Isuzu D-Max also features the inclusion of Hill Descent Control (HDC) making descending steep or slippery slopes a less tricky task. New too is the Vehicle Launch Assist Control that increases initial torque on gradients of 25 per cent or more. Through this feature, the vehicle is quicker off the mark without suffering the effects of turbo lag when accelerating from idle.
The new Isuzu D-Max not only offers impressive new driving dynamics from its Blue Power 1.9-litre engine, its outlook has also been enhanced to convey these properties with distinctive new exterior paint colours available in the line-up including Sapphire Blue, Red Spinel, Stallion Black, Titan Silver, Silky White Pearl and Magnum White.