Isuzu Motors South Africa has added five new automatic 4x2 derivatives to its D-Max range, finally offering a self-shifting transmission with its entry-level 2,5TD engine.

The local line-up now includes the D-Max 2,5TD extended cab High-Rider AT (R403 200), the D-Max 2,5TD double-cab High-Rider AT (R435 300), the mid-spec D-Max 2,5TD double-cab LE AT (R459 000) and the D-Max 2,5TD double-cab X-Rider AT (R474 700), each fitted with a five-speed auto.

As a reminder, the Japanese firm’s 2,5-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesel engine develops 100 kW and 320 N.m. Isuzu says the incorporation of the five-speed self-shifter into this powertrain does not impact the bakkie’s braked towing capacity, which remains 2 100 kg (just like the existing manual models).

The local range now also includes a D-Max 3,0TD double-cab variant in Hi-Rider trim, complete with a six-speed automatic gearbox and priced at R464 100. The 3,0-litre, four-cylinder oil-burner delivers 130 kW and 380 N.m.

"Buying trends in the bakkie segment are changing rapidly, and we have seen a major upswing in the demand for automatic gearboxes in recent years," says Dominic Rimmer, senior vice-president, technical operations at Isuzu Motors SA.

"The introduction of the six-speed automatic transmissions in the D-Max 3,0-litre models in 2018 was extremely well received, and we are delighted to now offer automatic gearbox options on our popular D-Max 250 models.

"The five-speed automatic gearbox has been developed to suit the performance characteristics of Isuzu's exceptionally capable, reliable and economical 2,5-litre intercooled turbodiesel engine, thus giving our customers great performance matched to low running costs, superb comfort and outstanding driving convenience – particularly in bustling and congested city environments," Rimmer said.

In November 2019, Isuzu Motors of Japan confirmed it planned to invest R1,2-billion into its South African operations in order to produce the new-generation D-Max bakkie locally.

Revealed in Thailand in October 2019, the new D-Max is already being produced for export in that country. But now South Africa is set to join the party (although it's not yet clear when production is scheduled to switch from the outgoing model to the new one).