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Tow Test: Isuzu KB 250 X-Rider 4×2 Double Cab

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Initially introduced in 2016 as a limited production model with a run of 700, units the X-Rider sold out so quickly that Isuzu decided to make this a permanent model in the KB range.

Its now a bit more expensive than when first introduced, but for those wanting more ‘pizzazz’ in a bakkie – and especially all those Isuzu fans – this combination promises a whole new adventure with the brand.

For the young at heart, maybe it’s that Maronello red body colour, and because of this it gets the impression that this should be one gutsy bakkie, especially when cruising along the N1 with an elbow out the window to far off destinations! And if the red is too ‘in your face’, then you have an alternative subdued choice of white or silver – and aging gracefully!

There are 19 models in the KB range, one for just about every usage you can think of including 4×4 or 4×2. There are also three body derivatives to choose from – a 4-door double cab, 2-door extended cab or 2-door single cab. The KB X-Rider is available only in 4×2 and in a choice of two body options, single cab or 4-door double cab, though surely at some stage Isuzu could take this up to a 20-model range by introducing a 4×4 derivate of the X-rider?

Both X-rider models use the 2.5-litre turbodiesel engine and High Rider chassis, which complements the sporty styling and distinguishes it from the ordinary workhorse.

This diesel engine, introduced to the range in 2015, develops 100kW and 320Nm of torque between 1 800 and 2 800 rpm.

It’s not that quick off the mark, even when not towing, but it cruises comfortably thanks to engine torque being up and around the legal speed limit mark.

And then there are those comfortable, well-padded black leather seats with red stitching to lounge into.

What the current production model has over the initial model run is an uprated towbar with a 2.1 ton braked trailer towing capacity.

Now, that’s a bonus!

X MARKS THE SPOT

Bakkies can sometimes be visually boring, after all, they are really workhorses adapted to recreational use.

In some cases they have even become the primary vehicle in the family and so serve a dual purpose: that of daily transport, and of weekends away.

Image is important and one would want to be seen driving something smarter than a plain workhorse. And so, Isuzu realized the need for a spice-up model and pimped the X-rider by getting rid of most chrome work and branding it with big, red X-Rider badging, black and chrome mag wheels, black running boards, black front grill and black tonneau cover.

X-Rider badging has also been introduced to wheel hubs as well as on the roll bar, while inside the vehicle the black leather seats are held together with red stitching – and of course there is a big red X-Rider badge in the centre of the black leather steering wheel.

And that’s not all, there is also X-rider badging sewn into the front headrests, with another red ‘X’ on the door trims.

So ‘X’ marks the spot, and you see a lot of red, but not in the way the phrase intended!

One can’t help but feel that certain features have been done away with to save costs, features that would be more useful on this model. I’m talking about an onboard computer that gives fuel consumption and distance left in the fuel tank, which would be useful as well as a more appealing than the minimalist dashboard.

A USB port and more than just radio controls on the left side of the steering would add functionality.

But the basics are still in place – electric windows, keyless central door locking, built-in radio, air conditioner and dimmable dashboard lighting.

AS A TOWCAR

Bearing in mind that the X-Rider stands on 18-inch wheels, the tow bracket requires a drop plate to bring it down to 420-480 mm above ground.

While Isuzu rate the X-Rider to be capable of towing up to 2 100kg, we opted for a loaded Bush Lapa off-road caravan which has a Tare of 850kg and GVM of 1 500kg. This is an all stainless steel van made from 3CR12 stainless steel and comes with a 5-year guarantee.

The tow-vehicle-to-trailer-weight match is good, but the Isuzu takes some getting used to. It is not fast out of the blocks on acceleration from standstill, and the 5-speed manual gearbox can be notchy when the driver is being hasty.

The engine cannot be mistaken for anything but a diesel when idling. The X-Rider’s strong point, however, is that it does the job. When it gets up to cruising speed it settles down to a comfortable and economical towing experience, cruising happily at 120km/h (just over 14L/100km fuel consumption).

Stability, considering the high-riding suspension, is a big plus. Maybe it’s the Bushlapa’s towing characteristics, for you don’t notice you are towing – and the trailers body width dimensions fits nicely within both side door rearview mirrors of the KB, so that you get a good idea if there is traffic is behind you.

As a combination it accelerates from 0 to 60km/h in 9.47 seconds and 0 to 100 in 25,95 seconds. On our 2km hill climb it took 2 minutes seven seconds – it’s not quick but it does the job!

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

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

Isuzu KB 250 X-Rider 4×2 Double Cab Specs

VEHICLE SPECS

Engine capacity: 2499
Torque: 320Nm
Power: 100kW
Gearbox: 5-speed manual

TOWING PERFORMANCE

Tare 1 849kg
Max. tow braked (GCM) 5 000kg
Manufacturer’s max. towing mass 2 100kg
Ground clearance 220mm

TOWING ACCELERATION

0 – 60 km/h (sec) 9.47
0 – 80 km/h (sec) 16.01
0 – 100 km/h (sec) 25.95
Top speed 135km/h+
Consumption 14,2L/100km

OVERTAKING / HILL CLIMB

80 – 100 km/h (sec) 7.05
Hill climb (2km climb) 2m 7s

PRACTICALITY

Interior space 5/5
Seat comfort 5/5
Side mirrors 5/5
Trailer stability programme no

Price

R388 400

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