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Isuzu KB Double Cab

Motoring Review

AFTER a very long wait, the sixth-generation Isuzu KB has arrived, but it was worth it.

A few weeks ago, we published a top ten list of our favourite bakkies.

A few people were rather upset that the Isuzu KB didn’t feature on that list, but there was a very good reason why. At the time when that issue went to print, there was no Isuzu KB available in South Africa. We were between models - the fifth generation went out of production and number six was still on its way.

It arrived in South Africa last week and I had the opportunity to drive it in the rugged countryside surrounding Hoedspruit. I’m not going to beat around the bush – the sixth-generation Isuzu KB is a blêrrie good bakkie.

The new KB is in my opinion the best-looking bakkie out there, simply because it isn’t trying to emulate the softer lines normally associated with SUVs. The KB, in any of the three bodystyles, is aggressive and as sharp as a Japanese Katana. Some may find the chrome grille on certain models hard to stomach, but in my mind it just adds to the macho styling.

A lot of the interior trim and equipment is shared with the Chevrolet Trailblazer. Not a bad interior to pillage, as it’s properly put together, has all the necessary luxuries and gadgets and seems like it will last a lifetime.

Nailing an interior together is something Isuzu is very good at. As part of the launch experience we had the opportunity to drive the fifth-generation, so we could compare how big the leap forward has been. The model I drove had many, many kilometres on it, but it had no rattles to speak of. I could see no evidence that suggested anything but a repeat performance from generation six.

While I can’t comment on load carrying and towing, I can tell you that the famous Isuzu ride quality has been retained. The KB is very good at ironing out whatever the gravel roads in Hoedspruit threw at it. After a few hours on various surfaces at various speeds, I came to the conclusion that it would take something quite substantial to intimidate this bakkie.

Three of the engines available on the new KB are well-known to South Africans and all are mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. First up is the 2.5-litre low-pressure turbo-diesel with 58kW and 170Nm on tap, which is available on the Base and Fleetside specifications. It’s aimed squarely at the workhorse market, where it should fare well thanks to proven reliability, fuel efficiency and low operating cost.

Next in line is the 2.5-litre D-Teq turbo-diesel available in Base, Fleetside and LE specification. It produces 85kW and 280Nm of torque available from just 1 800rpm. Isuzu claims a combined fuel consumption figure of 7.7 litres/100km and Co2 emissions of 203g/km.

The range topper is an updated version of the tried-and-tested 3.0-litre D-Teq turbo-diesel powertrain. For generation six, upgrades have resulted in an impressive 130kW and 380Nm of torque. Available only in LX specification, this engine can also be mated to a five-speed automatic gearbox. With this engine under the hood, the KB has a towing capacity of 3 500kg for trailers fitted with a service brake. Isuzu also claims a class-leading fuel consumption figure of 7.7 litres/100km and an impressive Co2 rating of 204g/km.

Last, but not least is the all-new 2.4-litre petrol powertrain available in Base, Fleetside and LE specs. Power is rated at 112kW and 233Nm of torque, most of which is available low down in the rev range. It’s a responsive powertrain and suits the rugged nature of the KB perfectly.

The Isuzu KB is covered by a 5-year/120 000km warranty with roadside assistance for the full warranty period. Service intervals for all models are is 12 months or 15 000km. A 5-year/90 000km service plan is also included.

Find a complete breakdown of the KB range's specifications below.

KB240 - Base

• 6J X 15 steel rims fitted with 195 R15C tyres 
• Four tie-down brackets in load box 
• Ten rope hooks on load box side 
• Collapsible steering column 
• Transponder vehicle immobiliser system 
• Datadot vehicle identification 
• Interior courtesy lights 
• Headlamp-on warning buzzer 
• Multi-reflector halogen headlights 
• Mud flaps 
• Split-bench front seat with reclining mechanism 
• PVC seat trim 
• Vinyl floor trim 
• Two 12V auxiliary power supply 
• Remote fuel flap 
• Tinted side windows 
• Radio ready for optional radio fitment

KB 240 - Fleetside (in addition to Base specification)

• High ride configuration with over-slung rear leaf springs 
• Engine sump guard 
• 6.5J X 16 wheels fitted with 205 R16C tyres 
• Driver and front-passenger airbags 
• Seatbelt pre-tensioners 
• Pollen filter 
• Manual air conditioner 
• Floor tunnel console with integrated cup holder

KB 250 D-Teq - Fleetside Safety (in addition to KB 240 Base and Fleetside)

• Anti-lock brake system (ABS) 
• Electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) 
• Brake Assist System

KB 250 D-Teq - LE (in addition to KB 240 and KB 250 D-Teq specifications)

• 7J X 16 alloy wheels fitted with 245/70 R16C tyres 
• Body-colour radiator grille, bumpers and side mirrors with side turn indicator 
• Auto door unlock in case of an accident
• Remote control central locking 
• Interior door-unlock button 
• Automatic door locking at 20 km/h 
• Electric remote side mirrors 
• Electrically operated side windows with express up and jam protection for driver 
• RDS radio and front-loading CD combination with MP3 compatibility, auxiliary port, USB and iPod functionality and two speakers, integrated mobile Bluetooth hands-free system 
• Four-speaker sound system 
• Centre console box with lid 
• Cloth seat trim 
• Bucket-type front seats 
• Floor carpets 
• Manual air conditioner with pollen filter 
• Anti-theft alarm system
• Height-adjustable driver’s seat 
• Side steps (double cab) 
• Storage pockets behind front seats (double cab)

KB 300 D-Teq - LX (in addition to above-mentioned specifications)

• 7J X 17 alloy wheels fitted with 255/65 R17 AT tyres 
• Projector-type front headlamps 
• LED combination rear tail light clusters 
• Chrome radiator grille, door handles and side mirrors 
• Side steps 
• Leather-covered steering wheel with multi-function controls 
• Luxury cloth seat trim featuring a six-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat 
• Rear-seat centre armrest (double cab) 
• Cruise control 
• Multi-information display 
• Electric remote adjustment with electrically operated retract function for side mirrors 
• Park distance control 
• Six-speaker sound system 
• Steering wheel satellite controls for audio system 
• Climate control (extended- and double cab) 
• Front-seat side airbags (double cab) 
• Curtain side airbags (double cab)

 

Purposeful upgrades to Isuzu KB range - 2015

THE Isuzu KB has, over its lifespan, become a formidable name in the bakkie segment. It has proven itself to be not just reliable but tough as well. With the all-new Toyota Hilux fast approaching and the updated Ford Ranger soon to be launched, Isuzu has given its KB line-up some slight upgrades, both cosmetically and mechanically. Have these upgrades brought the KB out of the shadows of its competitors? I spent some time with the enhanced Isuzu KB to find out.

Top-of-the-range updates.

When I mentioned there were slight cosmetic updates, I really did mean slight. In fact it's just thetop-of-the-range KB300 DTEQ turbo diesel models that get some styling changes,  which includeLED daytime running lights (replacing the fog lamps) and LED technology incorporated in the rear clusters. To further enhance the overall visual appeal of the top spec KB model, customers can also opt for a new and stylish rim design.

Inside the KB300 DTEQ LX models Isuzu has further increased the cabin appeal by adding a new infotainment system, uses Android operation and incorporates features such as satellite navigation, Internet, Wi-Fi and smartphone integration. The screen - a 1 080p high-definition TFTunit with a generous 6.5-inch dimension - also acts as the display when browsing, or when using the DVD player. It also integrates with another standout feature, which has been fitted to the KB Double Cabs: Rear Park Assist reversing camera. The screen displays the view from the rear, which is not only very convenient when backing up – especially when hitching a trailer – but is also a valuable safety feature.

For added convenience the Double Cab LX model gets the added benefit of keyless entry with aStart/Stop ignition button as standard. Leather is also available as an option on these Double Cab derivatives.

New transmission and engines.

Isuzu has now added a five-speed automatic gearbox to further the appeal of the KB300 DTEQ 4x4 LX model. This new gearbox features some technologies such as gradient logic which ensures that the best and safest ratio is used on slopes, while manual gear control via a sequential gate allows the driver to take charge, if so desired.

The engine, to which the five-speed automatic transmission is mated to, is the proven 3.0-litre DTEQ turbocharged diesel, which develops 130kW and 380Nm. Isuzu has also given the KB250 DTEQ a power boost; the 2.5-litre turbo diesel now develops 100kW and 320Nm. I was impressed with this model’s power delivery, and rightly so, as the engineers have fine-tuned it to deliver a 20 percent increase in torque at 1 200rpm and a much wider power band.

Two additional body derivatives

Recognising the needs of its customers, Isuzu will be offering the KB250 DTEQ in Extended Cab andDouble Cab variants. This is great for business owners and fleet providers, as customer needs are forever changing. These models might not feature the most luxurious of necessities but one can expect a radio/CD player with Bluetooth connectivity as well as air-conditioning.

Added safety features

All LE, LX and the two new Fleetside models, benefit from an Electronic Stability Control (ESC) programme. Other systems, such as the new stability/traction control pairing, the ABS, EBD and EBA, also feature on all models with the exception of the 2.5 LEED (low pressure turbo) models.

Verdict

The Isuzu KB remains one of my favourite bakkies; they have proven themselves over the years but have, unfortunately, fallen into the shadow of competitors. These new updates come at the right time; they might not be major changes and some of the underlining technologies and mechanicals have been carried over from the previous model, but the KB is still a force to consider when looking for areliable and comfortable bakkie. Remember, bakkies are what Isuzu specializes in.

 
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