By now the story of the Isuzu X-Rider is well-known amongst the bakkie crowd.
Isuzu launched the X-Rider a few years ago with the idea that it would be a limited edition bakkie, but it sold so well that it became a permanent fixture within the line-up.
Following that massive success, Isuzu introduced the X-Rider Crew Cab in 2017 and the X-Rider Black Edition in 2018. The latter really was a limited edition, as it was only available for a short time.
It’s back now, completing what has been an epic year for Isuzu. First there was the successful switch from KB to D-Max, followed by the introduction of the Arctic Truck D-Max, built on the line at Isuzu’s plant in Port Elizabeth.
The most recent addition is the re-introduction of the X-Rider Black Edition, this time wearing the D-Max badge.
But before we delve into what’s new, a reminder of what makes the X-Rider trim so special.
By now it has been established that the “limited edition” bakkie recipe works rather well in South Africa.
What makes the X-Rider different is that it’s not based on the range-topping D-Max, but rather a mid-spec derivative. While other manufacturers compete for sales north of R600k, Isuzu and Mahindra are the only manufacturers to offer limited edition models below R500 000. In the case of the X-Rider Black, the price is set at R462 000, which is around R14 000 more than the standard X-Rider 4×2 double cab and roughly R40 000 less than the X-Rider 4×4.
The Black is based on the former, which means it’s only available as a 4×2. This may come as a surprise to some, but it makes perfect sense to us. If you are a hardcore 4×4 enthusiast there’s no way you’re buying a black car for obvious reasons. On the flipside, if you’re only interested in the style statement this thing makes, chances are you won’t even notice the lack of a transfer case.
For what it’s worth, the D-Max 4×2 is equipped with a rear locking differential and the same ground clearance as the 4×4 model. While you won’t want to go trail driving with it, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be exposed to gravel on a regular basis. The traction control and electronic stability control are more than up to the task of keeping it tracking straight and true.
With that part of the way, a closer look at the style upgrades. With a name like “Black Edition” it comes as no surprise that everything is black. The body is black, the alloys are black, the B-pillars are blacked out and the rollover bar is black. It’s so black that if you were to glance out your window in the evenings, you might think it were stolen were it not for the X-Rider badges on front doors and rollover bar. Other standard black items include a Tonneau cover and a tow bar.
The additional style kit is already enough to justify the price above the standard X-Rider, but Isuzu takes it a step further by adding some niceties on the inside as well. The steering wheel, gear lever and seats are all wrapped in quality leather and feature contrast red stitching. The door inserts also feature a nice “X” badge.
The nicest and most noticeable addition is an all-new eight-inch touch screen infotainment system, which makes a huge difference. This unit has all the right connectivity features, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It’s intuitive, easy to set up and incorporated rather nicely into the dashboard. To be brutally honest, we actually prefer this unit the one currently fitted to our top-of-the-line 3.0-litre D-Max LX.
The standard air-conditioning controls are situated below this fancy new infotainment system and while it’s not full-on climate control, it does a stellar job of cooling the car within a minute or so.
Like other X-Riders, the Black is only available with Isuzu’s 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel. It provides 100kW and 320Nm of torque and is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. It’s a happy combination that works well. The figures might suggest that it should feel underpowered, but it doesn’t. Even when driven back-to-back with our long-term 3.0-litre, the power in the X-Rider feels adequate. The torque is available from 1800r/min, making both in-town driving and highway cruising effortless. An automatic gearbox would have been a welcome addition and we just so happened to hear a rumour that it might just be in the works. Here’s to hoping.
The X-Rider Black comes as standard with a five-year/120 000k warranty and a five-year/90 000km service plan. Service intervals are set at 12 months/15 000km.