The Isuzu N-Series range consists of 17 models and the NKR is the smallest model in this lineup. The NKR 3.5 chassis cab range was launched in 1993 and in 2008 has received a bigger cabin and a new 3 liter common rail turbo diesel engine. The engine was tweaked in 2009 to respect the Euro 5 emission norms and is mated on a five speed gearbox.
The Isuzu NKR is available in two cab configurations and three chassis including the NKR-S Dropside, the NKR-S Tipper and the NKR-T Tipper with twin rear wheels. The most capable of these three models is the NKR-S Dropside as it has the biggest payload with 1,400kg. The other two Tipper models can carry 1.180 kg and 1.034 kg respectively.
The Isuzu NKR competes in the 3.5 tones segment with models like the Renault Maxity or Toyota Dyna and it service intervals are set at 10,000 miles.
Design and interior
Similar with other vehicles in the segment the NKR’s, comes without a bonnet and its cabin sits directly on the front axle giving the vehicle good steering abilities and a short turning radius. The NKR’s design looks clean and simple and except for the vertical headlights and the body colored bumper there isn’t anything worth to be mentioned.
Access inside is made very easy, as the NKR offers a door opening of 90 degrees, which is bigger than other vehicles in the segment. Hop into the cabin and you’ll feel a bit disappointed as there is less spacious than the Renault Maxity. The dashboard design is also more rudimentary than other LCV in the segment and the steering wheel looks dated.
Isuzu however, has fitted its vehicle with jumping seats which offer a high level of comfort and combined with the adjustable steering wheel it will be easy to find a good driving position. Sadly, the driver is deprived of a right armrest and it must get out of the cab to manually adjust the large mirrors. Though, we don’t have any complains about the road visibility, as there is plenty of glass area and the windows come with deep cut low baselines.
Knock the dashboard and you’ll quickly find that the fit and finish isn’t at a superlative level, but at least the materials look durable.
Even if the Isuzu NKR doesn’t offer the same amount of storage places as the Renault Maxity, you won’t have any problems in finding a place to deposit your things. The standard features include driver and passenger airbags, remote central locking, electric windows and a radio/CD player.
The Isuzu NKR is equipped with a 3.0-litre turbo diesel common rail engine which produces 130bhp @ 3,400rpm and has a maximum torque of 280Nm @ 1,700rpm. The LCV is equipped with an Automated-Manual Transmission which operates just like an automatic, but can be also shifted like a manual transmission. The 5 speed transmission has smooth shifts and well timed gear changes and the need to downshift comes very rarely, as the engine feels nimble enough to get the work done without too much drama. Thanks to the generous torque available from low rpms, the vehicle does a great job in carrying heavy loads.
Despite the fact that the engine can be heard from inside, the noise it’s not obtrusive and the cab is pretty well isolated.
Ride and handling
The front suspension is independent with coil springs and dampers, while at the rear the LCV received leaf springs and dampers. It’s true that the cabin-on-axle-configuration makes the truck easy to handle, but the downside is that the ride quality is very harsh and unforgiving. However, the ride quality is improved if you put some load at the back.
The rack and pinion suspension is hydraulically power assisted. It offers a very light response which combined with the big steering wheel and the rigid ride makes the Isuzu NKR a bit unsettled and it’s hard to be kept on course without bringing small corrections. The truck’s ground clearance is also a bit small and it won’t be a smart idea to venture on the harsh terrains.
However, thanks to the tight turning circle the truck is easy to handle on the city streets. Moreover, the vehicle knows how to disguise its big dimensions, and behind its wheel you’ll feel more like driving a van.
The new generation Isuzu NKR is a big evolution over the previous model. We love the new 3.0 engine, the transmission and increased cabin space. Thanks to these features, the NKR is a strong partner, well suited for hard daily works and despite its compact dimensions it also has a generous payload. On the other hand, the NKR’s cabin feels a bit cramped and the steering is not as precise as other cars in the segment. The ride quality is also almost the worse in its class and the NKR it’s not as reliable as some of its rivals.