Isuzu’s crazy Arctic AT35 launched in SA!

Isuzu Motors South Africa (IMSAF) has expanded its bakkie offering with the addition of an exclusive new flagship model aimed at avid off-roaders, professionals who need to travel to inaccessible places, and city dwellers looking to make a bold statement. The Isuzu Arctic AT35 bakkie is now available through Isuzu dealers on an exclusive order-only basis with a projected 50 units to be built annually in Port Elizabeth.

Dominic Rimmer, IMSAF Executive for Technical Services, says: “Arctic Trucks are engineered for people who need to do tough jobs in tough environments, combining this attribute with Isuzu heritage of engineering tough, reliable bakkies is guaranteed to surprise and delight our customers.”

Hand built

Isuzu Motors South Africa’s factory is the first and currently the only Isuzu Motors facility globally to receive Arctic Trucks International’s stamp of approval to build a production Arctic Truck model.

Patrik von Sydow, CEO Arctic Trucks International, says: “The Isuzu D-Max is a very capable platform and we are very proud to be part of this partnership. For us it’s very important for the Arctic Trucks brand to not be seen as an aftermarket solution, as a result everything we do is integrated with the manufacturer.”

The Isuzu Arctic AT35 begins life inside the Struandale body shop where it is welded together with a combination of robotic welding machines and handheld tools alongside regular D-Max models. Once the cabin and load bay are completed, the body in white (unpainted metal) is then moved into a special Arctic Trucks conversion area within the body shop.

It’s here where the real work begins as a select group of handpicked Isuzu artisans and technicians begin the process of transforming a D-Max into an Isuzu Arctic AT35.

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Experience counts

The conversion is carried out by a team of highly experienced Isuzu manufacturing tool makers who ply their meticulous skill in crafting bigger wheel wells and arches to accommodate the larger tyres and beefed up suspension. Working alongside them is an Isuzu Manufacturing System (IMS) engineer whose job is to ensure compliance to IMS standards and processes.

Johan Vermeulen, IMSAF Executive Manufacturing and Supply Chain, says: “The Isuzu Arctic AT35 is built from the ground up on the same production line as regular Isuzu D-Max bakkies. This process allows us to ensure strict quality control measures are in place at an early stage which in turn means no compromise on the structural integrity or rust proofing on this vehicle.

“The three artisans who are responsible for the work done in the body shop have more than 60 years’ experience between them. Their core responsibilities before joining this project included ensuring dimensional conformance of work done in the body shop as well as carrying out maintenance on manufacturing related tools and equipment”

“All the cutting and welding happens before the vehicle is transferred back to the regular production line for it’s journey through the paint shop where it undergoes e-coat and painting. This means that Isuzu Arctic AT35 models are covered by the same 5 year/ Unlimited km Anti-Corrosion Warranty as all D-Max models”

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Attention to detail

An Isuzu Arctic AT 35 spends two days in the body shop compared to a regular D-Max which is completed in just a few hours.

Once the body has been painted, the journey continues through the general assembly area until the AT35 is pulled off the line once again for the final stage of the conversion which sees the vehicle transformed with the fitment of the wheelarch moldings which accommodate the 35 inch BF Goodrich All-Terrain Tyres. Here just two technicians carry out the final work by hand over a three day period before the vehicle is ready for the final quality checks and inspection before being released for shipment to the customer.

Based on the D-Max 3.0 Double Cab 4×4 LX Automatic, the Isuzu Arctic AT35 takes Isuzu D-Max’s legendary toughness and off-road capabilities to a new level with the fitment of Fox Performance suspension and dampers giving the vehicle unsurpassed off-road capability.

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The Arctic Trucks package includes:

• An increase in vehicle height from 1860mm to 1980mm, with an impressive 268mm of ground clearance (up from 220mm).
• Wading depth of 718mm (up from 600mm).
• Breakover angle increases from 22.4 degrees to 31.4 degrees.
• This additional height delivers massive improvements to the standard D-MAX’s approach and departure angles with 36 degrees and 28 degrees, respectively.
• Re-engineered wheel arches to accommodate the 17-inch AT alloy wheels and 35-inch tyres.
• Heavy duty Arctic Trucks mud flaps.
• In addition to a 245/70R16 spare wheel, there is an emergency ResQ Puncture Repair kit as standard.

The end-result, says Isuzu SA, is firmer damping at high speed, enhanced suppleness at low speeds. Great on-road and off-road performance and the ability to traverse technical and soft terrain with minimal ground or vehicle impact. The interior is shared with the standard D-Max along with Isuzu’s familiar 3.0-litre intercooled turbodiesel engine and six-speed automatic transmission. Gear ratios remain the same with only the odometer requiring calibration to compensate for the larger tyres.

Fuel consumption is 8.6 L/100km, according to Isuzu SA.

The Isuzu Arctic AT 35 is available in one derivative, the 3.0-litre double cab 4×4 six-speed automatic at a recommended retail price of R785 000, including VAT.