An Isuzu official has promised even the standard version of the new D-Max will be “close to” the Ford Ranger Raptor in terms of both “toughness” and off-road ability.

Speaking to CarsGuide, Isuzu spokesperson Eiji Mitsuhashi suggested the Japanese firm’s reworked bakkie would be highly capable off the beaten track.

"This new D-Max has a 3,0-litre turbocharged engine, and [will be] close to Raptor in terms of toughness or off-road capability," Mitsuhashi told the publication.

The new-generation model – which will be built both in Thailand and here in South Africa (the latter recently being confirmed as part of a R1,2-billion investment) – is powered by a “newly developed” version of the familiar 3,0-litre turbodiesel engine, with peak outputs hiked to 140 kW (at 3 600 r/min) and 450 N.m (between 1 600 and 2 600 r/min).

It also gains an electromagnetic rear differential lock, while revised suspension and steering (with tilt and telescopic adjustment on the column) ostensibly result in improved “driving stability”.

Interestingly, Mitsuhashi wouldn’t comment directly on the possibility of Isuzu one day building a full-bore rival for the 157 kW Ranger Raptor, which boasts off-road upgrades such as Fox dampers, coil-over rear suspension, a strengthened chassis frame and BF Goodrich tyres.

"This is very close to research and development, so we cannot say. For now, we just want to focus on the launch of the new D-Max. In the future, maybe, but we cannot say anything clear about this possibility at this moment," he said.