In the same mould as the limited run Loaded and Stealth models launched in 2014 and 2015 respectively, the ICE comes equipped with a number of cosmetic tweaks in the form of specially designed 15-inch alloy wheels, brushed aluminium-finished nudge bar and sports bar, tinted windows, rubberised loadbin, tonneau cover, factory-fitted daytime-running and special ‘ICE’ decals on the tailgate and in front of the rear wheels.
Inside, the changes are more subtle with noteworthy extras being rubberised carperts, leather seats with ICE branding, black door sills with ICE lettering, a JVC sound system with Bluetooth, Aux and USB, standard air-conditioning, ABS with EBD, dual airbags and tinted safety film.
Available in a choice of two colours claimed to have been specially selected to match its newfound decals; Starling Blue and Bright Silver, the ICE retains the same mechanicals as the standard NP200, with power either coming from the entry-level eight-valve 1.6-litre petrol developing 64 kW / 128 Nm, or the popular 1.5 dCi turbodiesel with 63 kW / 200 Nm.
Our launch route from the King Shaka International Airport to the rendezvous point near uShaka Marine World proved to be a doddle with the diesel-powered ICE delivering amples of low-down torque and being surprisingly comfortable despite the somewhat high driving position, although my driving partner and I both agreed that the engine tended to became rather noisy when the revs climbed beyond 2 000 rpm.
Despite being an all too familiar sight on our roads, the aesthetic enhancements, especially when teamed with the former hue, gives the ICE a striking appearance with a added touch of sportiness, though the interior, sans the seats and audio upgrade, felt dark with little in the way of matching the spruced-up exterior.
That said, build quality felt solid with the basic dash layout being both easy to use and devoid of squeaks or rattles. Along with the standard 800 kg payload, an additional 300 litres of storage space is provided behind the seats, with two cupholders, a tray underneath the ventilation switches, a sizable glovebox and deep door pockets making for a spacious and practical cab.
The return run after a day's fun in the sun on the beach was again conducted in a blue-coloured ICE with motivation this time coming from the petrol engine.
Having spent the first leg in the passenger seat, getting behind the wheel soon became rather disappointing as the K7M unit, which can trace its origins back to the second generation Renault Clio, became strained as the speedo breached 100 km/h. While not as loud as the diesel, the lack of mid-range punch and frequent stirring of the five-speed box to keep the momentum going, had us both agree that the oil-burner made for the best option despite its R13 000 premium over the petrol.
A worthwhile addition at the lower end of the NP200 range, the ICE is bound to cause a stir at a time when buyers are looking for that something extra when spending their hard earned cash. With its proven reputation and added benefit of a six year / 150 000 km warranty, expect the NP200 ICE to be given anything but the cold shoulder.
NP200 ICE 1.6i R191 900
NP200 ICE 1.5 dCi R204 900