Anything but chilled…



Ever since they supplied the converted Toyota Hi-Lux pick-ups  for the trip to the North Pole by the BBC’s Top Gear show, Icelandic firm Arctic Trucks have gained a huge reputation for producing true, go anywhere vehicles. The first mainstream manufacturer to see a potential market for this type of vehicle in the UK was Isuzu. Already enjoying success with the award winning D-Max which is particularly well received in the agricultural sector, they launched the AT35 to great critical acclaim. Since then, both Nissan and Toyota have employed the services of Arctic Trucks to produce image enhancing, ultimate off road versions of the Navara and Hi-Lux.


Specification and features

There’s no mistaking that this is no ordinary D-Max. The huge 315/70R17 tyres (with a 35 inch circumference which gives the vehicle its title) alone make the AT35 look not too dissimilar to a monster truck. With wide wheelarches and extended side steps, there is an undeniable presence which sets the vehicle apart from its more conventional peers. Upgraded, Fox Performance Series suspension ensures that the truck is indeed capable as well as looking the part.

In common with the rest of the D-Max range, the AT35 is fitted with a 1.9 litre, 162HP Diesel engine (which achieves Euro 6 emission standards without the addition of Adblue), and the test vehicle had the optional automatic transmission.


The cab environment

Given the increased height of the AT35, it’s difficult to execute a tidy entry to the cab. The side running boards are a great help however and there are grab handles on the door pillars. Once inside, you are presented with a tidy (but some may say uninspiring and possibly dated), functional environment. There are fewer of the trinkets and gadgets offered on some competitor vehicles, but, with the D-Max’s roots firmly set in a ‘no nonsense’ approach, this is probably to be expected. A 7” multifunction display including satellite navigation is centrally mounted, and in-between the driver and passenger seats is the 2WD / 4WD transmission selector.

In cab storage is relatively modest with just a few cubby holes and cup holders. Visibility is acceptable, but it is difficult to tell where the bonnet ends, the edge being out of the drivers sight.


Load area

The main issue with the load area is its height. If the driver needs to climb onto the platform, there is no real facility or easy method, and exiting is bordering on hazardous. The load area is lined however and there are lashing eyes for load security. The tailboard is hydraulically assisted, and drops down smoothly.


On the road

Once again, the word ‘presence’ comes to mind. The AT35 is higher than the vast majority of passenger cars and pick ups, and the vehicle feels larger on the road than it actually is. Having said that, due in part to the extended wheelarches the truck is wider than the standard D-Max and it’s easy to get caught out on narrow roads. It handles well, and the unladen ride quality is very reasonable, presumably the huge tyres absorbing the majority of small lumps and bumps. The cab is also well insulated from road noise, no mean feat given the footprint.

Possibly the only real disappointment is the power unit. The majority of Euro 6 engines are notable for being smooth and quiet but the D-Max doesn’t seem to shake off the knock and rattle that accompanies a cold start. These days, a 162HP engine is starting to look a little feeble compared to the competition, and the lack of ‘cc’s’ compared to the more traditional 2.5 litre units is very noticeable, particularly under acceleration where the modest torque output becomes quite apparent.  The automatic transmission is perhaps not state of the art and changes are not as seamless and slick as some of the competition, but it is much better than the rather agricultural nature of the manual box which I also experienced recently.

Sadly, for insurance reasons we were unable to try the AT35 in an off road environment.



More than once I was asked where the market is for a vehicle like the AT35. The presumption is that some vehicles will be bought by those using a truck in conditions where challenging terrain is the norm. Other customers will rarely go off road, but will relish the prospect of having a ‘mini monster truck’ on their drive, and the on road presence that is offered.

From a marketing perspective, Isuzu accept that the AT35 will never be a volume seller, but, undoubtedly the vehicle will enhance the image that the standard D-Max has of being a rugged, no nonsense off roader.


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