Isuzu TF PickUp

Test venue: Shropshire

Isuzu's plans to further establish itself in Western European car markets received a major boost this year with the clinching of a major deal between Isuzu (UK) Ltd and the Isuzu Motor Company in Japan for the supply and licence to sell a new range of two and four-wheel drive TF Pickups. They went on sale in June 2002.

Originally the basis of the deal was agreed in January last year and looks set to offer 'significant growth opportunities' for the Japanese marque. Isuzu can now sell the range of one-tonne Pickups alongside the Trooper, which have been marketed in the UK by Midlands-based International Motors since 1987.

There are five models in the range - both single and crew cab versions in two and four-wheel drive and a luxury derivative of the crew cab, the '4Sport', fitted with a turbocharger and intercooler, and aimed at the fast-growing leisure sector.

All vehicles are fitted with Isuzu's more powerful 2.5-litre diesel engine, the power increased from 76 bhp to 100 bhp at 3,800 rpm. Torque has also increased substantially and the new unit features a boost from 118 lb/ft to 167 lb ft. Isuzu claims a maximum speed of 84 mph for the 4x4 version and you will reach the legal speed limit in around 26 seconds.

Isuzu staff boast that the new TF range - introduced to replace the Isuzu-built Vauxhall Brava - have 'highly competitive' payloads and should appeal to the farming and construction industry sectors of the market. The company claims increases in the braked towing weight from 1450 kgs to 2000 kgs and fuel economy figures around 45 mpg for the two-wheel drive normally-aspirated version on the Extra Urban cycle, falling to 32 mpg around town. Cargo dimensions and ground clearance are also impressive.

I actually drove a Far Eastern version of the TF '4Sport' for over 3000 kms during a motoring event in Asia last year and was impressed with the all-round package. Isuzu has now uprated the suspension by fitting heavy duty shock absorbers, a limited slip differential as standard on the four-wheel drive version, additional rustproofing and improved noise insulation.

The front suspension is similar to that fitted to the Trooper, while the rear 'live' axle is designed to cope with heavier payloads. Also fitted as standard is a 'Quick on Start' cold starting aid for those icy winter mornings, a driver's air bag and side impact protection door beams.

Out on the open road the TF is quiet, refined and not in the least bit tiring or irritating to drive over a long distance. The diesel engine is hardly audible at speed, the TF features dual-circuit braking, a higher final drive ratio for more efficient gearchanges and the five-speed transmission is precise and slick.

Four-wheel drive versions boast a two-speed transfer box and four-wheel drive can be selected using the traditional 'shift on the fly' (on the move) method. The facia, albeit rather bland and plasticky, is functional and effective.

'4Sport' is set to compete with the likes of the fashionable Mitsubishi L200 for market share and its increased payload ensures that it is classed as a VAT-exempt commercial vehicle.

From the outside there are small subtle differences from the Brava, most notably a bonnet air-intake to feed the new intercooler and Isuzu badging, but the 4Sport also offers alloy wheels, two-tone paint, air conditioning, a passenger airbag, central locking, electric windows and mirrors, a CD player and a leather steering wheel.

Prices start at 10,795 for the 4x2 single cab, rising to 16,495 for the range-topping '4Sport'. These are on-the-road prices, excluding VAT, and vehicles come complete with Isuzu's six-year anti-perforfation and three-year mechanical warranties.

In my opinion, as a genuine commercial workhorse, the TF offers an extremely competitive all-round package. For a leisure vehicle in a competitive market sector, however, there are many several slightly more practical options available for the price tag of 16,500.

For further information or assistance please contact:

NDP Publicity Services
Holly House, Station Road, Newport,
Shropshire TF10 7EN United Kingdom

Tel/Fax: +44 (0) 1952 825001
Mobile: + 44 (0) 7831 123153 (UK)

Email: ndppublicity@googlemail.com

Web: www.ndp-publicity.com

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