It’s a different driving position to a ute, as you sit high above the engine with your feet ahead of the front wheels and hands on a bus-style flat steering wheel. There’s also a big left footrest with lots of open floor around it, so there’s ample space to rest your foot given there’s no clutch pedal.
The suspension seat can be easily adjusted to suit a driver’s weight and works well in providing a more comfortable ride. The seat’s base cushion has no rake adjustment but there is some movement available in the backrest. Large glass areas deliver a commanding view ahead and to the sides while the big door mirrors provide excellent coverage of what’s behind.
Its harsh ride quality when unladen is to be expected as it’s designed to carry permanent payloads between 1.0 and 1.5 tons. You do get thrown around, particularly on poor road surfaces with large bumps and dips. However, it’s no worse than the rodeo ride we’ve experienced in some unladen single-cab chassis utes which don’t have the luxury of a suspension seat.
The cab’s insulation ensures low engine and tire noise, particularly during highway use where the turbo-diesel requires 2200rpm to maintain 100km/h and 2500rpm at 110km/h. The most noticeable noise at these speeds comes from wind buffeting around the mirrors, roof racks etc but it’s far from intolerable, as conversations can still take place at normal volumes.
Braking (particularly when using the exhaust brake) and steering response are good but the automated manual transmission takes some getting used to, as it shifts gears at about the same leisurely speed you would do manually.
These long pauses between cogs can be frustrating when climbing hills, as you naturally want to downshift quicker to avoid losing momentum, but you can’t do it in either automated or manual modes. Isuzu claims that the duration of these automated shifts can be shortened, but after consulting the owner’s manual to make this adjustment, we didn’t notice much if any difference (or perhaps we just didn’t do it correctly).
The engine has good flexibility and does not respond well to aggressive treatment. A more relaxed approach is best, using low rpm to optimize torque.