Isuzu double cabs tested as mom’s taxis

2016-06-08 06:00
The totally new Isuzu KB 300 LX 4x4 auto double cab.     Photo: SUPPLIED

The totally new Isuzu KB 300 LX 4x4 auto double cab. Photo: SUPPLIED

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ISUZU launched in the last quarter of last year an enhanced and expanded KB range which includes three new models and an upgraded 250 DTEQ engine – bringing the total number of models in the range to 18.

Express on Wheels recently spent time with two of the upgraded and new models: the KB250 LE Double Cab (manual) and KB300 LX Double Cab 4x4 (automatic).

The double cabs retail from R344 400 in the KB250 range and from R486 900 in the KB300 range.

The new models are the all-new KB300 LX 4x4 Double Cab Automatic, the KB250 Fleetside 4x2 Double Cab and the KB250 Fleetside 4x2 Extended Cab.

While the KB250 has been equipped with an upgraded 250DTEQ engine, the KB300 has been enhanced with a new infotainment and navigation system which includes a touchscreen and rear camera – a necessity in my opinion for any bakkie used on a school run.

Much is being done by all the bakkie manufacturers to ensure that their vehicles have the practicality a bakkie offers but has a car-like feel and ride – and that is exactly what the top of the range KB300 LX Double Cab 4x4 offers.

Not to mention the fact that it is equipped with an automatic transmission that takes away the biggest gripe I have with bakkies – changing those stubborn gears.

While the KB 300 LX 4x4 double cab automatic is a completely new model, the other LX models have all been updated with new comfort and convenience features for the double and extended cab derivatives.

These include a touch screen infotainment system with satellite navigation, internet, WiFi, and smartphone integration. The screen acts as the display when browsing, or using the DVD player. It also integrates with the Rear Park Assist reversing camera.

Keyless entry with a Start/Stop ignition button is standard on all double cab LX-models while leather is available as an option.

The KB 300 is available in manual or auto and in 4x2 or 4x4. The 5-speed automatic transmission on the top of the range KB300, has manual gear control if the driver wants to change gears personally.

The 3.0-litre DTEQ turbocharged diesel delivers 130kW and 380Nm. The combined cycle fuel consumption is given as 7.9 litres per 100 km for the 4x4 double cab and extended cab models. The fuel consumption of the single cab 4x2 is given as of 7.7/100 km, with the 4x4 version 8/100 km.

KB250 Fleetside Double Cab

The Fleetside models are the workhorses in the range to attract business users. While frills are secondary to these buyers, the new Fleetside models do get useful features such as a radio/CD with Bluetooth enabled sound system for easy phone integration.

The KB250 Double Cab is powered by an upgraded, high output version of the 2.5-litre DTEQ common-rail direct injection turbodiesel rated at 100kW and 320Nm.

According to Isuzu this upgraded engine has a 20 percent increase in torque at 1 200 rpm and a much wider power band compared to its predecessor.

Upgraded safety features

All LE, LX models and the two new Fleetside models boast an electronic stability control (ESC). All, but a pair of base specification single cabs, are equipped with ESC.

The KB range has a full-house of the safety features not so long ago associated with luxury performance cars. As well as the new stability/traction control pairing, ABS, EBD and EBA are standard on all models with the exception of 2.5 LEED (Low pressure turbo) models.


The verdict after test driving it:

KB250 LE Double Cab:

It very much sounds like a bakkie, and as much as improvements have been done to the interior it still looks like the workhorse it is.

Some of the comfort features I like are the electric windows and controls for the audio system on the steering wheel in the model test driven. The layout of the audio system on the dashboard is simple and easy to operate.

Legroom is also good for the passengers in the back.

Unfortunately the KB250 only comes in a manual transmission. But I must admit that much has been done to make changing gears in the Isuzu a lot easier on the arms.

It offers a solid drive and it wasn’t as “floaty” on the open road as I would have expected. And considering that the test drive was done mostly on the mom’s taxi route scattered with speedhumps and traffic circles and tight parking spaces at the shopping centre, I found the Isuzu dealing in quite a dignified way with the obstacles of the concrete jungle.

I would, however, have liked a rear camera to be available on this model too.

KB300 LX 4x4 Double Cab Auto (Price: R563 500)

After the practicality-focused KB 250, the KB300’s luxury and comfort features were quite pleasing. It is a diesel bakkie and sounds like a diesel bakkie when the ignition is turned on, but once it gets going the noise levels are impressively low.

There is enough room in the back for the kids and their bags and I liked the high seating position, the keyless entry with stop /start button and controls for the audio system on the steering wheel.

I did enjoy the automatic gearbox and found the ride and gear shifting smooth – even on the mom’s taxi route with lots of stopping and going, slowing down and speeding up.

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