Earlier this year, Isuzu Malaysia revealed that it would launch the 1.9 litre Ddi BluePower turbodiesel (codename RZ4E-TC) engine in the country, and the company has now confirmed that this will happen on September 18, 2019, with the D-Max pick-up truck being the first vehicle in its line-up to receive the motor – the MU-X is next up but there’s no timeline of when this will happen.

The long wait for the turbodiesel powerplant, which was first introduced in Thailand back in 2015, was mainly due to Isuzu Malaysia’s development work to ensure the engine would be reliable and performed as it should in our local environment.

As such, the company spent time conducting high-altitude performance testing in various parts of the country, including Cameron Highlands, Genting Highlands, Kundasang and Tambunan.

Additionally, the engine for our market also features a pre-fuel filter to cope with the fuel quality we have here, particularly Euro 2M diesel sold at the pumps. Isuzu Malaysia is also working on adapting the engine to be able to run on B20 biodiesel, and has begun testing with the fuel as a proactive measure, in line with the government’s aim of increasing its biodiesel mandate in the transport sector to B20 by 2020.

In terms of specifications, the RZ4E-TC is a 1.9 litre four-cylinder engine with 16 valves, double overhead cams (DOHC), common rail direct injection and a Variable Geometry System (VGS) turbocharger.

Running on a 16.5:1 compression ratio, the engine puts out 150 PS at 3,600 rpm and 350 Nm of torque from 1,800 to 2,600 rpm, which represents a significant improvement over the familiar 4JK1-TCX 2.5 litre turbodiesel with 136 PS and 320 Nm.

Beyond the increase in output, Isuzu Malaysia says that the 1.9 litre unit has less internal friction (by 37%), making it 19% more fuel efficient (as tested in Thailand), with a claimed fuel consumption of eight litres per 100 km.

Other benefits include better durability and less maintenance, a lower engine weight by 56 kg, and less CO2 emissions. The smaller-displacement engine also generates less noise, resulting in less cabin noise (55.1 decibels) when compared to D-Max trucks fitted with the 4JK1-TCX mill (58.6 decibels).

To go along with the RZ4E-TC, there will be two new six-speed transmissions – one manual and the other an automatic – that feature two overdrive gears (fifth and sixth). The automatic version features gear change control learning, which adapts gear changes to suit driving circumstances, while the manual gearbox has closer ratios along with triple cone synchronisers and a reverse gear synchro.

In terms of performance, the BluePower engine with the automatic transmission and four-wheel drive will complete the zero to 100 km/h sprint in 13.7 seconds, beating out the previous 4JK1-TCX-equipped model by 1.6 seconds. Similarly, manual versions take 13.9 seconds to do the same feat, or 1.1 seconds faster when compared.

As for the truck itself, it will come with a number of updates beyond just the new engine. The redesigned exterior matches the facelifted D-Max launched in Thailand in 2017, and includes reshaped headlamps with L-shaped daytime running lights, a new front grille and restyled taillight graphics. Other items are 18-inch alloys, auto-folding side mirrors and an optional tailgate assist function.

On the inside, new soft touch materials have been applied in various areas like the top dash, centre console armrest and door cards, while new black trim can be found in other areas. There’s also USB charging ports in the second row, plus a new design for the leather/fabric combination seats.

For now, details on pricing and the total number of variants are unknown, but we will have more information when the new D-Max with the BluePower turbodiesel engine is launched in Malaysia. Stay tuned.