Steering Column 01.08.08

The Sound of the Rodeo
DESPITE the latest kick-in-the-teeth taxes being levied on, and threatened for, big four-wheel-drive vehicles, Isuzu is still trying to attract more leisure buyers to its range of Rodeo pick-up trucks. The latest special edition – the LE Sport – is not only a bit snazzy looking, it’s also packed to the gunwales with top-of-the-range in-car entertainment kit made by Pioneer.

Music can be downloaded into the system so you can keep your CDs at home and not have to faff about changing them on the road. It will also play you DVD files on a seven-inch screen.

It’s all controlled by a touch-screen and a voice-command system, and the sounds are pumped through a big amplifier to Kevlar speaker cones. Along with the latest acoustic insulation matting that lines the cabin, it’s meant to give outstanding fidelity to the music. Not something you can say about every diesel pick-up.
The inclusion of satellite navigation, speed camera detection and Bluetooth connection for your mobile phone probably goes without saying, but the reversing camera’s a nice, if unexpected, extra.

That’s the headline stuff, but there’s also a special look to the Rodeo LE Sport. Massive 20-inch dark alloy wheels, Pirelli tyres, lamp-guards, trims, a smart hard top for the cargo-hold, xenon headlamps and dark rear windows all work together to broadcast how special it is.

Indoors there’s as much leather, suede and subtle blue floodlighting as in many nightclubs. Under the bonnet is a 160bhp, three-litre turbo diesel engine that takes the big beast through the 60mph mark in 10.3 seconds, can tow a three-tonne braked trailer, and gives an average fuel consumption of 33.6mpg with a manual gearbox and 31.4 with an automatic.

And the price of all this excess? A basic £23,999 for the manual, and extra grand for the auto, plus VAT. There’ll only be 100 ever built and you can take delivery on 1st September.

The Concept of Reality
Possibly one of the weirdest motorcycles you’ve ever seen has just gone on sale in the UK. Honda’s DN-01 is a hybrid of all that’s, er, distinctive about superbikes, custom machines, sports tourers and even scooters.

First unveiled as a concept bike at the 2005 Tokyo Motor Show, it just looked mad with its 680cc v-twin engine slipped into a long, sleek bike with a steeply raked windscreen, drawn-back handle­bars, shaft drive, feet-forward riding position and totally automatic gearshift. Now you can have that mad rascal sitting in your garage for £9,200.

Honda says its an entirely new category of motorcycle which brings together performance, poise, comfort and practicality in a futuristic and radical styled machine that’s bristling with the latest technology.

HFT or “human friendly transmission” is the name given to the gearshift mechanism which, from the riding point of view, is the most radical element of the DN-01. The engine we already know from the Transalp, but the power is put through a six-speed gearbox which can be either fully automatic, sportily automatic, or manual through a thumb-operated shift. It looks weird without a clutch lever on the left grip, but we’re told it provides smooth drive to the rear tyre without any lag.

Honda has never shied away from creating individualistic bikes – just look at the massive 1800cc Gold Wing tourer or the 175bhp Fireblade sportsbike, and this latest addition is undoubtedly going to attract a lot of interest well beyond the normal biking circles.

<b><i>Mike Grundon</i></b>


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.