Bakkie brutes: AT35 Hilux, KB available in SA

Johannesburg - Earlier in July, Wheels24 reported that an all-new brutish Isuzu D-Max Arctic Trucks AT35 bakkie – the result of close technical collaboration between the Icelandic company Arctic Trucks and Isuzu UK – is now available in Britain.

The bakkie is a UK-specific project and that, according to Isuzu South Africa, was unlikely to reach our market, at least not officially...

Well, the good news is that this D-Max, called KB in our neck of the woods, as well as the latest Toyota Hilux is available locally in AT35 form – courtesy of the 4x4 experts at 4WD Truckin’ in Pretoria and Johannesburg.

AT’s by 4WD Truckin’

4WD Truckin’ has a long-standing agreement with Arctic Trucks to build their bigger, beefed-up, go-anywhere bakkies – tried and tested in the most arduous off-road conditions, such as the Russian tundra, Iceland’s volcanic landscape, the snowfields of Norway  and the UAE desert – here in sunny SA.

According to 4WD Truckin’ MD Leon Collett the AT35 conversion of the locally built KB is very similar to the D-Max version in the UK.

Based on the locally produced high tensile strength steel KB chassis with cross-member braces for torsional rigidity, it retains Isuzu’s 2.5-litre turbodiesel engine under the bonnet.

It’s available in double-cab and extended-cab configuration, and can be specified with either a manual or automatic transmission, with the five-speed auto ’box featuring sequential manual shift control. 

Image: 4WD Truckin’ 

The AT version also has the shift-on-the-fly two-/four-/low-ratio four-wheel drive selector; allowing drivers to switch between two-wheel drive and high-ratio four-wheel drive at speeds up to 100km/h, and low-ratio four-wheel-drive can be engaged while stationary with the transmission in neutral.

The double-cab model can be ordered with full leather upholstery and the AT35 retains the KB’s one-tonne payload and 3.5-tonne towing (braked) capacities.

Important changes

However, says Collett, the Arctic Trucks conversion doesn’t just consist of a lifted frame and a fancy body kit.

On the contrary, it has a re-engineered suspension with special dampers, lifting the body by only 50 mm, special 5x 35”x17 Cooper ST maxx tyres tyres fitted with 17”x10” Arctic Trucks alloy rims – all accommodated within dramatically widened wheel-arches with Arctic Truck designed fender flares.

This means extra body and chassis work, such as cutting the standard wheel arches and moving mounting points to make the 35-inch tyres fit, positioning the new wheel arch liners, painting of the flares, and fitting new Arctic Truck mud flaps.

Because of the bigger wheels the speedo needs to be recalibrated, and 4WD Truckin’ also offers an engine performance chip – increasing power from the standard mill’s 120 kW to 149 kW and torque from 333 Nm to 415 Nm.

Image: 4WD Truckin’ 

Besides the Isuzu conversion his company has also received the newly developed Arctic Truck 35-inch conversion kit for the latest Toyota Hilux double-cab and Xtra-cab models.

“This conversion is very similar to that of the KB, changing the standard Hilux into a real head-turner,” says Collett. “Not only do they look good, it also takes their off-road capabilities to the next level.

“Not only does it increase ground-clearance, the bigger tyres and wheels also give the bakkies better flotation and more traction – while on-road it doesn’t feel as if much has been changed.”

4WD Truckin’ also do similar conversions on the Ford Ranger, Nissan Navara, Land Rover Defender, Toyota Prado and Land Cruiser. The full AT35 conversion costs R185 000, including all labour and consumables and a 2-year workmanship warranty. For more information, visit their FB page or website.

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