WITH A PRICE hitting a flight to Shetland less than £30,000, the Isuzu D-Max pick-up as tested recently, would have to be good. And it was, but only up to a point.

I have been a fan of Isuzu's take on pick-ups since they were launched in 2012. I liked the no-nonsense rugged approach and they really stole a march on the Mitsubishi L200 when it went all effete. Now, I fear the D-Max is falling into the same trap and becoming over-elaborate and the shift down from a 2.5-litre turbo-diesel to a 1.9-litre unit troubles me too.

That said, buyers do have the choice of the Utility or the Premium range, with the former firmly in the workhorse bracket. But, as any salesmen will tell you … hardly anybody buys bog standard anymore.

So, at £29,400, the Blade version of the ‘Premium’ end of the D-Max spectrum, is not one of the cheapest in an ever more crowded pick-up market, even Fiat and Mercedes have recently entered the fray.

Of course, the double-cab remains the version of choice for most farmers, but there are still single and crew-cab versions available within the Utility slot in the catalogue, which can cut down on spending. Nevertheless, the Premium range is ‘where it’s at’ and there’s four levels of comfort within that – the Eiger, Yukon, Utah and Blade models – all of which are only available as a double cab, bar the Yukon which has an extended cab variant.

As far as creature comforts goes, even the entry-level Eiger gets air conditioning, electric windows and a stereo system with USB and Bluetooth connectivity. The Yukon gets a leather clad steering wheel, interior lighting and cruise control, and ranging across the States to Utah means you can add climate control, heated front seats and a leather upholstery to the mix.

The model tested, the Blade, certainly looks very plush and has such luxuries as a reversing camera, leather upholstery and enough infotainment capability to keep a spotty teenager happy.

Under the bonnet, though, is a clattery wee 1.9-litre engine – a size once favoured by VW in its Amarok, but now sold alongside the choice of a 3.0-litre diesel – and to me it struggled to make the most of its paper value 164bhp. That said, I note that it is still rated to tow 3.5 tonnes, so that’s a big thumbs up both from me and the regulatory processes, so it can’t be that bad. Keeping it in the VAT reclaimable bracket is the fact that it can take 1100kg in the back.

The engine in the test vehicle was mated to a six-speed auto' box in the test car and therein might lie where the impression of a lack of alacrity might come from. It’s a smooth enough ‘box, but the engine and it seemed to fight with each other at times and that’s something coming from someone who has a Land Cruiser with a four-speed auto!

It also may be down to the fact that although it has the same rated power output as the 2.5-litre, the smaller engine has about 40Nm less torque and that’s bound to impact on the auto’s performance.

However, it is only ‘fair’ in the economy ratings alongside the likes of the latest Mitsubishi and Navara trucks. The manual versions struggle to get above 40mpg, while the auto brings it down to about 36 mpg.

One area it does excel in – and as Isuzu has quite a name for itself as being reliable – it in the offer of 125,000-mile, five-year warranty. And that gives added value for long-term owners.