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Isuzu KB a solid but aged option

15.05.2017

The bakkie market in South Africa is one that has evolved quite a lot over the last few years. About as far removed from the early days as can be, today you can get models equipped with items such as touchscreen infotainment displays, keyless entry and automatic headlights to name but a few.

Customers seem to want more luxury, more comfort and more style when it comes to their bakkies. Isuzu is one such manufacturer that prides itself on building hard working and reliable bakkies, in fact this year marks the company’s 80th anniversary.

That said though, has the new Isuzu KB got what the market is after? Can it compete with the likes of the Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger and Volkswagen Amarok?  Well to find out Isuzu delivered their top-of-the range model to our office, the KB300 D-TEQ LX 4x4 automatic.

Before I go into detail about the driving experience,  let me first tell you about what has changed on the outside. From the front, the KB features a revised fascia including changes to bonnet, grille and fog lamps. The designers have also added new projector-style headlamps and integrated daytime running LEDs on the LX.

At the rear, I noticed a new tailgate as well as a reverse camera, which has been neatly integrated into the handle.  A stylish set of 18-inch alloy wheels rounds off the changes made.

The interior though is a bit of a polorising space for me. You see, the KB features some pretty impressive gadgets such as keyless entry/start, a touchscreen infotainment system and a redesigned instrument cluster which features a TFT display for trip information. The infotainment system will connect to Bluetooth, USB and even play DVDs, so one will probably think that it’s all good.

Unfortunately, there is a big issue and that is interior quality. It simply does not feel as upmarket as its competitors. The cabin is full of hard cheap plastics which it made use of five years ago. Yes, the materials are durable and some might find that to be a plus point, but it just feels old, especially when compared to the newer alternatives in the segment.

As for the drive, the KB uses Isuzu’s familiar 3.0-litre D-TEQ turbodiesel motor which develops 130kW/380Nm. To be honest, the motor is slightly down on torque when compared to its rivals, however it makes good use of its power. It is for this reason that the KB is a firm favourite amongst boat and caravan owners.

When it comes to the drive, it once again shows its age. The company has done some revisions to the suspension, however it still doesn’t drive as smoothly as I would have liked. The five-speed automatic gearbox does add a bit of convenience, but it feels outdated compared to the six or eight-speed units fitted to its rivals.

After spending a good amount of time with the Isuzu, I can see why so many people remain loyal to it. Everyone I spoke to would tell me about someone who has an Isuzu, and that it has not experienced any issues before.

It’s a good bakkie but unfortunately the times are changing and I feel that Isuzu needs to bring out a bakkie that feels and drives as good as what it looks. If you disagree though, then you will be impressed to find out that the R563 500 asking price also includes a towbar, sportsbar, roof rails and power adjustable leather seats as standard.

Article written by Justin Jacobs
15.05.2017
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