The utility pick-up market in the UK is polarizing into quite a small selection of manufacturers, but one with big ambitions to capitalise on that is Isuzu with its D-Max range.

It has every right to have such ambitions because it only concentrates on producing commercial vehicles, with the pick-up market extremely important to it, which concentrates the collective minds at head office. In 2022, it recorded sales of 4348 pick-ups, which was 1300 more than the previous year.

With sales on the rise again this past year, Isuzu has set a target of 10,000 sales by 2025 which would see it close to ousting the Ford Ranger as the No 1 pick-up in the UK.

The Scottish Farmer: Heated front seats come in most options of the vehicleHeated front seats come in most options of the vehicle

Though that appears to be a pretty huge target, it should be confident of achieving that as it does not appear to have the severe supply issues that some other manufacturers have been experiencing. Plus, it has a fine and dandy offering to make to potential buyers.

Isuzu has firmly stated that it will concentrate on the ‘work’ markets, like agriculture and building trades, seeing that as the bread and butter way to achieve its sales goals. The D-Max range, though, has recently had the introduction of the V-Cross model to become the top-end machine in the stable and Isuzu is confidently predicting that this will outsell all the other versions available – having tested it, there’s no reason to suggest that it won’t.

Like all in the range, it comes fitted with a punchy 1.9-litre turbo diesel which produces 161bhp across all of them, though there is the option of a factory approved power upgrade by tweaking the engine management system.

Its high torque figure of 360 Nm between 2000 and 2500rpm make it ideal for farming applications with its payload ranging from 1090kg to 1200kg, depending on the model, plus a 3.5-tonne towing capacity. The V-Cross as tested was the six-speed auto version and it has a payload at the lower end of that scale.

Some interesting stats from Isuzu show that there’s a growing trend towards auto boxes and more than a third of all sales now have the ‘lazy’ gearchange – 10 years ago it would have been 80% in favour of manual gears.

On the V-Cross, it’s hard to imagine why you would ever opt for the manual change, even though it tends to be about £1500 cheaper. The old argument was that you needed a manual for towing, but that simply not the case any more, as all of the auto boxes are now more intelligent and can match the load and conditions pretty well – probably better than most drivers!.

I didn’t manage to get a trailer on the V-Cross on test, but did have a payload on the flat bed of more than half a tonne. It handled that with ease and as with all pick-ups, it actually handles much better when there’s a few kilos in the back.

Most of the D-Max range have an impressive array of extras like rear parking sensors and keyless entry, with push-button start, as well as a seven-inch colour touch screen that’s compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for phone and tablet connection.

The V-Cross version gets a nine-inch screen, with CD player and phone hook-up plus a reversing camera that’s a handy gizmo for hooking up trailers. There’s also the bliss of heated front seats, plus dual zone climate control.

Other add-ons for the V-Cross include full leather seating and distinctive 18-inch black chrome alloy wheels. And, in common with the entire range, there’s a 125,000-mile/five-year warranty to back up your purchase. On styling, the D-Max ticks the box of looking more workhorse than a ‘surfer special’ and the bold new radiator grill gives it a pretty butch front end.

Inside, rear seat passengers get the benefit of a 30mm longer wheelbase on the latest D-Max models and so there’s no need to feel cramped in the second row – even for those with longer legs – and entry is made easier by the fact that the B-pillar is shunted 25mm further forward which means accessing the rear seating space is much easier.

The published cost of the V-Cross as tested was £36,999 which is pretty favourable when up against the Ford and Toyota competition, plus another thing to bear in mind is that if Isuzu wants to hit its target of 10,000-unit sales by next year, there’s sure to be some deals going!