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New Isuzu: KB240 | 250 | 300

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Story and photos by Kobus Botha

Test-driving vehicles and putting them through their paces is really the only way to find out
which one you want to buy. I recently had the opportunity of driving three new
Isuzu KB models one after the other… and my decision was easy!

As we would be taking the KBs offroad, General Motors prepared them for us with one size bigger tyres fitted, in order to offer a higher profile and stronger sidewalls. With the higher ground clearance, the KBs would be protected from off-road damage, while the bigger tyres would also be able to take more punch.

KB 240 LE 4X4

It’s been a long time since I drove a petrol bakkie – and, as my father-in-law told me, ‘Once you get used to driving diesel, it gets under your skin.’ I have to say that I agree completely – and not just because he’s my father-in-law! The petrol bakkie felt a bit lazy underneath the gas pedal: because of bigger tyres it’s got longer wheel rotation, and that affects the original gear / ratio functioning, so, performance-wise, it wasn’t 100 percent. In fact, driving offroad with it was quite exhausting.

I constantly needed to change the gears as we drove because it didn’t have enough torque to pull itself over the hills and through the turns and potholes in the same gear. I know this is normal for a petrol bakkie, but it would’ve been nicer if the wheels were their original diameter. In low range, the engine compression was good when going down steep descents and up steep climbs. It ran smoothly with very little cabin noise, and no rattles and squeaks. Driving on-road at normal speeds (120 km/h) was irritating in terms of the torque, as when you wanted to pass another vehicle there was just not enough oomph to get you in front quickly. I would’ve regretted buying one like this if I’d needed to drive fully-loaded for long distances.

KB 250 D-TEQ LE 4X4

The 250’s gear ratio was much better than the petrol’s. It could more easily overtake other road users at high speeds, and offroad driving was also much better. Less gear shifting was needed… However, if you are a driver who occasionally wants to kick down the throttle from a dead start, I should warn you not to expect any wheel spin. The 2.5 does, however, get you from Point A to Point B in comfort, and it has exceptional work-horse abilities when it comes to the size of load you are allowed to tow and carry.

KB 300 D-TEQ LX 4X4

If you’re looking for an all-purpose Isuzu with loads of performance, and which can tow almost anything while offering you style and luxury, then you need to test drive the KB 300 to see if she’s the one for you. The low range was really good and it could climb steep, rocky terrain with ease – even ‘on idle,’ without even the slightest touch on the throttle. The interior was pretty basic, although most farmers, builders or other load-carriers who want a real workhorse probably don’t have luxuries such as fancy looks and cruise control at the top of their Must Have list. The KB 250 is also likely to be exported to our neighbouring countries, as it will cope with the rough and difficult conditions like a champion. Isuzu’s aim is to become the No 1 bakkie in Africa – and I think that, with this model particularly, they will give it a good go.

A WEEKEND WITH THE KB 300

After the weekend test-driving these Isuzu, we stayed behind for an extra night to allow us the chance to really put the KB 300 through its paces.

Grant Spolander (SA4x4) and I did the Rus en Vrede 4×4 trail on the KB 300, the only other route out of the Baviaanskloof to the south. The route summits the Kouga Mountains and heads out towards Kareedouw. It took us over five hours to complete the 78-km trail, so we had the pleasure of really testing the Isuzu’s capabilities on this endurance track.

After our two days of spending quality time in the KB 300, I realised just how much thought had gone into the design. Its performance was excellent and, because it had its original tyres and wheels, the gear ratio was brilliant. The gear shifting was effortless – you could just put it in third and keep it there – and there is such a phenomenal speed and power spectrum from idling speed through to where the revs runs high. And the torque is just always there when you need it. From slowing down for big potholes, to accelerating for the next upcoming hill, and for turns, the KB 300 really does just deliver when you demand it. What an amazing feeling!

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