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Timing was ideal for Blade runner 

I COULD have counted on one hand the number of pick-ups I had tested just a couple of years ago.

But such is the growing popularity of these vehicles that it is not unusual to see one sitting in my driveway.

The pick-up was mainly used as a workhorse and it was more common on building sites or on farms.

But that has now changed and they are viewed very much as multi-purpose leisure vehicles.

My latest test model – an Isuzu D-Max – came into this category and with two-wheel and four-wheel drive capabilities the timing of its arrival was ideal.

I had just returned from a week of glorious sunshine in Tenerife to find Scotland hit by snow and ice.

Strolling along the coastline at Golf del Sur in sandals and shorts was quickly a thing of the past as I pulled on layers of clothing along with warm socks and boots.

The ice and heavy snow forced schools to close and many motorists were left stranded.

Gritters were out in force on main roads but getting on to these was a major problem.

No such problem for me though as I turned the dial to four-wheel drive high and I was soon through the snow and cruising along the motorway.

My D-Max was a top-of-the-range Blade and this came with six-speed automatic transmission.

There was a 1.9-litre 164ps turbo diesel engine under the bonnet and it was powerful enough for my purposes.

It is a real load lugger boasting a 3.5 tonne towing capacity and over 1 tonne payload.

And the four-wheel drive low range gears will take it over some nasty off-road terrain.

The en-gine is a little noisy at start but once wa-rmed up it is a fairly quiet performer.

Capable of reaching 112mph, this model po-wers along smoothly at motorway speeds and isn’t too thirsty either with a combined fuel economy figure of 36.2mpg.

There’s lots of space in the double cab with plenty of elbow, leg and head room up front and in the back.

The D-Max handled well for the size of the vehicle and its suspension dealt well with potholes.

And thanks to a generous standard spec the interior offers much the same comforts as a large car.

There’s a five model line-up – Utility, Eiger, Yukon, Utah and Blade – with single, extended and double cab variants.

Entry-level models – priced at £15,749 – come with LED running lights, hill start assist, variable hill descent and Bluetooth.

Eiger double cab adds reversing camera, 16-inch alloys, body-coloured bumpers, audio system with CD and six speakers.

And Yukon adds 18-inch alloys, silver side steps, seven-inch touchscreen, LED rear lights, cruise control, rear load liner and a leather steering wheel.

The next two models get added comforts to make them more suitable to be used as leisure vehicles as well as workhorses.

Utah gets keyless entry and push button start, Apple CarPlay and android auto, satnav, DAB digital radio, roof bars, leather upholstery with heated front seats, rear parking sensors and automatic air con.

The top-priced £27,999 Blade adds tinted windows, nine-inch multi-function touchscreen, remote locking lower tailgate, Blade puddle lamps, front and rear park-ing sensors, colour-coded canopy or sports bar with roller cover.

You need to find a fairly large parking place for the D-Max but you are assisted in getting in with the reversing camera and park-ing sensors.

All-round vision is good for driver and passengers thanks to the high seating positions.

With its all-round capa-bilities on or off road, the muscular looking D-Max is an ideal pick-up for work and play.