Isuzu workhorse loaded with high-end features

2017-12-20 06:00
At the end of last year General Motors South Africa (GMSA) launched its facelifted version of the sixth generation Isuzu KB with styling changes to the front fascia and rear tailgate as well as a redesigned instrument gauge cluster.    Photos:SUPPLIED

At the end of last year General Motors South Africa (GMSA) launched its facelifted version of the sixth generation Isuzu KB with styling changes to the front fascia and rear tailgate as well as a redesigned instrument gauge cluster. Photos:SUPPLIED

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NOT being a big bakkie enthusiast, I often find it most difficult to do road tests of and write about these vehicles.

To be fair though, over the years, much of the farm has been taken out of bakkies with a lot of focus being put on giving it a car-like feel and comfort combined with the functionality and load capacity of a bakkie.

It is, therefore, no wonder that just about every third vehicle on my school run, which is dead centre in the suburbs of Port Elizabeth, is these days a Double Cab 4 x4 bakkie.

At the end of last year, General Motors South Africa (GMSA) launched its facelifted version of the sixth generation Isuzu KB with styling changes to the front fascia and rear tailgate as well as a redesigned instrument gauge cluster.

With the new model, Isuzu has made a lot of strides in putting the car into the bakkie and I recently spent a week each with the manual and automatic versions of the top of the range Isuzu bakkies, the Double Cab 4x4 Dteq LX KB 300.

Two of the most outstanding features in achieving this are the reverse camera with park distance control (which I believe should be a must on every bakkie used on a school run) as well as an automatic transmission model.

For me, especially, the automatic transmission is a big advantage, as I have always found bakkie gears, no matter which make, requiring more effort than that of a car.

Other notable high-end features of the Isuzu, that any olden day farm bakkie could only have dreamt of, include leather seats, daytime running lights, a leather clad multifunction steering wheel with buttons for the cruise control and audio controls, digital display and passive entry with a stop/start button. Then there is touch-screen satellite navigation as standard, smart phone features, Bluetooth audio streaming and Wi-Fi connectivity.

The leather steering wheel also has multi-function controls with cruise control and the driver’s seat is six-way electronically adjustable.

Safety features such as hill descent control and hill start assist, which prevents the vehicle from rolling when trying to pull away on an up or down gradient, add to the enjoyment of this vehicle on and off the beaten track.

It also features anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic brake force distribution (EBD), brake assist system (BAS) and electronic stability control (ESC) with traction control.

One of the safety features that I quickly learnt about in the manual model, is the fact that it will not allow you to start the car (which is done at the push of a button) if your seat belt is not clipped in and the vehicle not in neutral.

The leather clad interior has a classy yet durable feel with some plasticky elements here and there – just to remind one that this is still a bakkie. It has a spacious interior with plenty of stowage spaces, an armrest for the backseat passengers and 12V power outlet.

Ride

The KB range is available with 2.5 litre and 3.0 litre engines. The powerful 3.0 litre DTEQ turbocharged diesel engine produces 130kW and 380Nm from the common rail direct injection turbodiesel.

The new Isuzu’s rear suspension has been tweaked for improved ride comfort.

Without a big load on the urban commute, I did find the ride a bit floaty on my daily commute, which includes a lot of speed bumps and traffic circles – but no more so than other bakkies that I have test-driven.

Test-driving the manual model changing gears took some time getting used to, but it offered a pleasant drive with the noise levels of the diesel engine satisfactorily low.

During the test drive, which was mostly the peak hour urban commute, the average fuel consumption was 8.3km/litre with the manual model and 9km/litre with the automatic model.

The automatic gearbox, while being a huge luxury after the manual gearbox, did however struggle a bit with a hard foot on the accelerator, but one will quickly learn to adjust your driving style. On a road trip to Jeffreys Bay the ride was comfortable and one could overtake with confidence once you learnt the ways of the transmission.

Summary

The Isuzu double cab offers a car-like feel with high-end safety and comfort features in a vehicle which still also offers the off-road and load capacity benefits of a bakkie.

Pricing

Isuzu KB 300 4X4 Double Cab LX (leather) R558 100

Isuzu KB 300 4X4 Double Cab LX (Auto)(leather) R572 000

All Isuzu KB models are sold with a fully comprehensive five-year/120 000 km warranty and roadside assistance programme, a five-year/unlimited mileage anticorrosion warranty and a 5-year/90 000km service plan.

Service intervals are 15 000km or twelve months for all derivatives.

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