Home Cars & Bikes Isuzu D-Max Arctic AT35 takes on Ford Ranger Raptor

Isuzu D-Max Arctic AT35 takes on Ford Ranger Raptor

Isuzu D-Max Arctic AT35

Isuzu’s specially designed ultimate double cab bakkie, the new D-Max Arctic AT35, lets Isuzu devotees have a predator of their own.

It is now available on special order through Isuzu’s South African dealer network, with limited production numbers guaranteeing exclusivity, Isuzu said in a statement. The list price is R1 120 620, which is almost equal to the Ford Ranger Raptor’s price of R1 184 100. More about the difference between the two towards the end.

The D-Max Arctic AT35 was created in partnership with Arctic Trucks – a company with its origins in Iceland – known for building very capable overlanding vehicles. The AT35 is made in South Africa at the Isuzu Motors South Africa facility in Struandale, Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth).

Isuzu D-Max Arctic AT35

Kevin Fouché, head of product planning at Isuzu Motors South Africa, says the manufacturer launched the first-generation D-Max Arctic AT35 in 2019, and it quickly earned an enviable reputation as one of the boldest, toughest, and most capable 4×4 bakkies on the market. “The new D-Max Arctic AT35 carries this legacy into the seventh-generation D-Max range that we launched last year,” claims Fouché.

The AT35, which is the top model in the D-Max line-up, appeals to customers who want to stand out from the crowd, Fouché added. “It also appeals to those who want to take advantage of the vehicle’s adventurous spirit and amazing off-road skills.”

Isuzu D-Max Arctic AT35

Unique local build

The D-Max AT35 is only produced at the Struandale plant, the only Isuzu factory authorised by Arctic Trucks to do so worldwide. Based on the top-of-the-line D-Max V-Cross 4×4, the AT35 is built on the same assembly line.

However, the muscular bodywork enhancements are added in a dedicated Arctic Trucks conversion area in the plant’s body shop, where the bigger wheel wells and arches are crafted to accommodate the large 35-inch tyres and beefed-up suspension.

The car is then fitted with all the parts, including the specially engineered suspension raise package and Bilstein dampers. These components give this vehicle its exceptional off-road capabilities, using the standard D-Max assembly line.

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Off-line fitting of the wider wheel-arch mouldings, which announce the AT35’s real off-road intent, is the last step in the metamorphosis. The AT35 undergoes Isuzu’s inspection and quality checks before being approved for shipment to consumers, much like the regular production versions. The AT35 is backed by the same extensive warranty, roadside support, and service plan as other D-Max pick-ups.

Tenacious and capable

The aggressively flared wheel-arch extensions, together with the raised ride height and wider track, give the D-Max Arctic AT35 a strong appearance that is in line with its hard-working roots.

Additional features include broader profile side steps for greater access to the interior, Arctic Trucks mud flaps, AT35 chrome badges on the front fenders, and badges on the rear tailgate. Brawny 35-inch BF Goodrich all-terrain tyres placed on eye-catching 17×10-inch AT black alloy wheels match these enhancements. To get you moving again with the least amount of hassle, a standard 18”-inch spare wheel is installed beneath the load box, and a ResQ puncture repair kit is included.

Off-road capability

The AT35 has specifically designed suspension, which gives this model its commanding stance and impressive off-road capabilities. The vehicle’s height increases from 1 810 mm to 1 875 mm, while ground clearance is raised from 232 mm to 266 mm thanks to a specially developed lift kit. Heavy-duty Bilstein dampers help to achieve the optimal balance between composure on the road and sure-footed off-road performance.

The D-Max Arctic AT35 has a greater break-over angle of 34 degrees (up from 22,5 degrees), a steeper approach angle of 33 degrees (up from 30 degrees), an improved departure angle of 23 degrees (up from 18 degrees). The wading depth of 865 mm improves on the standard vehicle’s 800 mm.

The D-Max’s tried-and-tested part-time four-wheel drive technology is still in place, giving drivers the option of two-wheel drive for on-road use or four-wheel drive high and low range for off-road travel. To provide a smooth transition to the selected drive mode, the electronically controlled system on the latest D-Max has a new actuator design that gives one of the fastest engagement times of 0,61 seconds. The driver can use the electronic rear differential lock for the roughest terrain.

Isuzu D-Max Arctic AT35


The reliable 3,0 litre four-cylinder diesel engine from Isuzu, which also powers the company’s top-of-the-line D-Max vehicles, powers the AT35. The high-pressure common-rail diesel engine outperforms the previous generation model in terms of both power and efficiency, producing a maximum power output of 140 kW at 3 600 r/min and 450 Nm of torque between 1 800-2 800 r/min. It is connected to a six-speed automatic gearbox with the most recent specifications, which provides quicker shifts and better fuel efficiency. Though it offers much less power than the turbo-charged petrol engine of the Ranger Raptor, it could be over 30 percent more fuel efficient than the Ford’s V6 engine.

Based on D-Max V-Cross 4×4

Based on the top-of-the-line D-Max V-Cross, the D-Max Arctic AT35 offers customers the high levels of safety, luxury, refinement, and technology. The AT35 insignia, also present on the shifter shroud and the floor mats, is embroidered on the leather-trimmed seats to emphasise the double cab’s exclusivity.

Similar to the standard D-Max V-Cross, luxury appointments include wireless phone charging for compatible smartphones, leather trim throughout, an eight-way electric driver’s seat with lumbar support, a multi-display digital instrument cluster, a large 9-inch infotainment system with eight speakers, Android Auto, and wireless Apple CarPlay.

Isuzu D-Max Arctic AT35


With state-of-the-art stereo camera, sonar, and radar technology, the breadth of advanced driver aid functions is extraordinary, according to Isuzu. This makes a wide variety of active driving aids possible, such as Lane Departure Warning System (LDWS), Lane Departure Prevention (LDP), Attention Assist, Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Lane Keep Assist System (LKAS), and Emergency Lane Keeping (ELK).

The Multi Collision Brake (MCB) function, which automatically applies the brakes when the airbags deploy, Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, rear radar, and other safety features are part of the standard safety pack. In addition to the standard airbags (dual front, side, curtain, and driver’s knee), the V-Cross also has an innovative airbag that prevents the heads of passengers in the front seats from contacting each if the vehicle is involved in an accident.

This or a Raptor?

Comparisons between the Ford Ranger Raptor and the Isuzu Arctic D-Max are inevitable. The Isuzu will appeal to customers who put their trust in the Japanese automaker’s excellent reputation for reliability. They won’t care if this D-Max, with its larger wheels, has less speed than the Raptor, most likely preferring a more leisurely “as fast as necessary” driving style. But the Raptor is not just about speed, boasting its own specialist suspension that is hard to beat. To find out what each vehicle’s strengths and weaknesses are, we will have to test them back-to-back.

Isuzu D-Max Arctic AT35

Isuzu offers the regular five-year or 90 000-kilometer service plan, five-year or 120 000-kilometer warranty and roadside support, and five-year or unlimited-distance anti-corrosion warranty with the purchase of the D-Max Arctic AT35. Service intervals are every 15 000 km or 12 months.

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