Basically Beautiful

At last – A no-frills ute that takes hard work without throwing a tantrum

Have you ever wanted a mobile phone that only made and received phone calls? No Apps, no mapping, no facebook or internet connection, no camera or video, just a simple phone that rings when someone wants to talk to you.

If the answer is yes and you drive a ute, the chances are that all you want is a ute that works hard and doesn’t have unnecessary and expensive options. Well, while we can’t help you with finding a simple mobile phone, thanks to Isuzu and the D-Max Farm Mate, we can suggest a ute that fits the bill.

The Farm Mate is a limited edition, base model, that’s resulted from the Isuzu Ute Australia people actually asking their public what they want, rather than relying on the views of a 20-year-old advertising agency planner who sits on facebook all day.

If you work with your ute, then here’s what you get:

A bench seat that takes two passengers, plus a driver, so you can drop the kids off at the school bus stop without them sitting on top of each other as you drive them down to the front gate of the property.

You get wind-up windows that work, even if the ute is five feet under the surface of the dam.Isuzu-D-Max_2

You get doors that only lock or unlock when you stick the key in the door.

You get rubbery/plastic floor mats, a fully galvanized, steel-bodied, dropside tray body, with tubular headboard and steps on both sides, you get rope rails, a strong cab rear window mesh guard, chequerplate floor and taillight guards, you get a steel bull bar powder-coated in satin black, and you also get a tow bar kit with wiring to a 7-pin flat plug, a square-section removable tongue, tow ball and D-shackles.

You even get a little metal toolbox slung under the rear left section of the tray to carry the towbar if you don’t want it sticking out the back all the time, ready to whack you playfully on the shin.

And inside the cab, you even get a hands-free Bluetooth connection that will couple up to your basic, hands-free mobile phone (if you ever find one). Don’t go looking for the cruise control because there isn’t one.

All up, Isuzu Ute Australia has added accessories and a body to the value of around $5,000 in a unique package aimed at ABN holders, and it’s available with either the single cab 4×4 D-Max EX version or the space cab option that has room in the back for the dogs and a chainsaw or two small people sitting on small flap down seats.

Farm Mate single cab’s 2.55 m tray load floor is 150 mm longer than the standard trays fitted to Triton, BT50, Ranger and HiLux Workmate. The tray loading height is also lower than other 4x4s, thanks to its underslung rear leaf springs, which are unusual in 4×4, don’t cost ground clearance, and help lower the centre of gravity.

“Whether you’re fencing, feeding, or just ferrying, Farm Mate D-MAX is the farmer’s ideal small truck, with the turbo-diesel torque and economy, features, durability and engineering excellence you’d expect from an Isuzu,” IUA’s Managing Director Hitoshi Kono said.

The four-cylinder, turbocharged Isuzu 3.0-litre engine ranks, in our view, as the best diesel available in the ute market. With its 360 Nm torque, the combination just lugs along, whether on the highway or in a paddock, doing its job well without ever complaining. It’s also the most economic of the current ute crop, returning 8.1 litres/100 km on the ADR 81/02 combined city and highway test. For the space cab this is class best and compares with diesel Navara D40’s using 9.8, Mazda BT50/Ford Ranger’s on 9.2 and diesel HiLux’s 8.3 l/100 km.

All Farm Mates come with a three-tonne maximum tow capacity, high 225 mm ground clearance, paddock-crawler ultra-low low-range first gear with anti-stall, steel plate sump and transfer case guards and a fuel tank shield. Push-button dash controls simplify 2WD/4WD/low range selection and allow shift-on-the-fly up to 100 km/h between 2WD and 4WD High.

Both Farm Mates offer standard air conditioning, rear LSD, dual airbags, pre-tensioners on outer front seat belts and CD/FM/AM MP3 audio. The space cab Farm Mate does go a bit more upmarket over the single cab version by adding ABS with EBD (which disables on steep slippery slopes to allow wheel lock-up), power windows, remote entry door locks, cruise control, front bucket seats with a storage binned centre floor console, rear window demister and door protection strips.Isuzu-D-Max_1

Both Farm Mates have the longest endorsed tray load floor length from cab to axle among Asian conventional-cab one-tonners, for optimal loaded stability and safety. Their Isuzu chassis has a uniquely longer wheelbase (by a sizeable 150 mm) in cab/chassis models than in its utes, and, at 3200 mm, is longest in the class.

Twin rear ‘jump’ seats with multiple folding modes are a feature in Farm Mate space cab. Lifting each seat squab reveals a box with a flat load platform lid under which is a segmented small tool storage area. These boxes can flip forward and fill the rear footwell recesses, their flat backs levelling with the prop-shaft tunnel to present a near flat load platform across the whole cabin floor width. This is a feature that is greatly appreciated by all farm dogs, as they don’t have to sit on a hot steel tray floor in the summer.

Each rear space cab seating position has a three-point seatbelt, cup-holder and a side pocket in the cabin side trim, plus enhanced visibility via the space cab’s signature low-sill, rear opening rear side windows. This latter feature is another favourite with the dogs.

D-MAX Farm Mate single cab is $33,990 driveaway, and Farm Mate space cab is $39,490 driveaway. Farm Mate production volume is less than 100, but final availability will depend on demand.

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