An abandoned quarry near Newton Stewart on a cold, wet Tuesday morning.
The clouds lurk just above the looming cliffs and gravel piles. Rain tumbles from the sky, bouncing in the puddles that litter the quarry floor.
It’s hard to think of a more perfect setting to test one of the UK’s toughest pickup trucks.
The all-new Isuzu D-Max is smarter looking, better equipped, safer, more refined and more capable on and off road.
It enters a much diminished sector. The Mercedes X-Class, Fiat Fullback, Mitsubishi L200, Nissan Navara and Volkswagen Amarok have all left or are leaving the UK market.
That leaves Ford’s Ranger, Toyota’s Hilux and the Isuzu D-Max as the three main players still standing.
Isuzu is hoping to grow sales by launching an improved product into a market with fewer competitors.
They deserve to. Having spent a day putting the D-Max through its paces I came away very impressed indeed.
It comes in single, extended and double cab versions, with six-speed manual or auto gearboxes. Top spec DL40 and V-Cross versions have electric leather seats, infotainment screens, and are aiming to tempt lifestyle buyers.
Under the bonnet is a 1.9 litre, 168bhp diesel. That might not sound very powerful but the D-Max can carry up to 1,200kg and tow 3.5 tonnes.
Its off road capability is superb, as I discovered when exploring the quarry’s slopes. It will tackle extraordinarily steep inclines, plough through mud, and can wade through 80cm deep water.
On road it’s more refined than its predecessor and, while not a luxury SUV, has very good road manners.
Former rally driver Jason Sharpe gave me some hot laps of the quarry floor, getting all four wheels off the ground racing over a ridge, and spraying gravel everywhere as we drifted round corners. Not at all how the D-Max is designed to be driven but extraordinary fun nonetheless.
Unlike its rivals, the D-Max’s lower weight means it doesn’t need to drop its speed by 10mph on motorways and dual carriageways.
Priced from £20,999–£32,749 and with a 125,000 mile warranty, it’s excellent value for money too.
It deserves to do well.