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Bigger and better

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story and photos by Godfrey Castle

Isuzu KB300 LX
It’s 260 mm longer, 60 mm wider and 60 mm taller than the previous model – and the new Isuzu comes with an uprated three-litre engine and five-speed automatic transmission to assure your driving pleasure.

The all-new, sixth-generation Isuzu KB is a far cry from that stout little first-generation bakkie that had farmers scrambling for the solid, compact workhorse. Tough as nails as it was, it was no doubt also as aerodynamic as a breeze block. But it could carry anything from scaffolding and raw mortar to sheep and cows – and, yes, even the occasional Bakkie Mate pick-up camper for exploring the great outdoors. Over time it earned its stripes for both durability and performance.

This latest model is stylish and owes much of its newfound streamlining to extensive wind-tunnel testing, where super-smart computers analysed and calculated the optimal airflow around the vehicle so that the designers had aerodynamic ammo for tweaking the KB into just the right shape. Some of this testing was done in the wind tunnel of the Japan Railway Technical Research Institute, which is the same famed facility used to test the illustrious bullet train. The result of all these studies is a vehicle that reportedly has the lowest drag in its class, with a full five percent improvement over the previous model.

Rather like the ugly duckling that blossomed magnificently into a swan, the new Isuzu has come a long way. Thanks to its makeover it’s now also somewhat of a head-turner: petrol attendants, farm workers, outdoors-loving families and even the local dominee all seem to become misty-eyed, even quite reverential, when they peer inside. ‘Is this the new Isuzu?’ they ask, a wistful smile playing upon their lips.

Personally, I’m a little spoiled as I’ve become accustomed to the refinement of the modern diesel engine as used by Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and Volkswagen’s Amarok. Close your eyes and you can still mistake the sound of Isuzu’s new, uprated three-litre engine for that of a big, red Massey Ferguson tractor. I guess the Isuzu engine is reliable, though, and some may love the clankiness of this diesel, but, as I say, I prefer the refinement of peace and quietness on the open road to the sound of an engine that may – or may not! – be running a bearing.

But have no fear, you can pack the family into the larger-than-ever double cab, go to church and leave the sheep in the largerthan- ever load bay – and you’re guaranteed that when you come out everyone will be impressed, especially with Isuzu’s new interior styling. Even the sheep will be smiling at all the space they now have! It is zhoosh, and it boasts a style that will make those members of the congregation who still have the older models green with envy.

Yes, this is progress in terms of bakkie refinement, although you may not be too keen to subject it to what bakkies had to endure in the bad old days: you’ll probably be so protective of this KB that you won’t want it to suffer even a minor dirt splatter!

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