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Isuzu's nation-building KB in SA

2013-03-14 06:32

ISUZU BAKKIE REVIVAL : The new Isuzu KB is determined to build on its 40-year heritage in South Africa with a new look, improved capability and off-road prowess.


Isuzu can trace its heritage back to 1972 with the launch of its first one-tonner albeit badged as a Chevrolet LUV. Local production began in Port Elizabeth in 1972 and in 1977 the automaker’s first diesel model made its debut.
In 1979 the range was expanded to include the brand’s 4x4 variants which coincided with the adoption of Isuzu KB branding. The first model change for KB took place in 1989 (third generation) and a fourth generation was introduced in 1997.


The outgoing fifth generation (launched in 2004) and facelifted version (2007) paved the way for the automaker’s sixth generation one-ton bakkie in March 2013.

The new KB is 260mm longer, 60mm wider and 60mm taller than the model it replaces. In South Africa Isuzu launches 26 versions of its KB with three engine options (2.4 petrol, 2.5 and 3.0 diesel) and two transmissions (five speed manual and a new auto) inailable in 4x2 or 4x4 variants with four specification levels; Base, Fleetside (High Ride configuration), LE, and LX.

Prices start at R218 900 for a basic petrol model to R464 400 for the highest-specced double cab.


The new four-cyclinder 2.4 petrol (available on the Base, Fleetside, and LE) produces 112kW at  5200rpm and 233Nm at 4000rpm. Fuel consumption is rated at 10.4 litres/100km and CO2 emissions of 245g/km (for 4x2 models).

The 2.5 low-pressure turbodiesel (base and Fleetside), carried over from the previous range, is  capable of 58kW/170Nm. Isuzu says, “This is an ideal choice for workhorse operations.”

This is an easy-to-maintain, low-stressed diesel engine design that lends itself to high-kilometres fleet operations. A key to this engine’s longevity is its use of replaceable cylinder liners and low overall cost of maintenance.

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Another engine carried over from the outgoing model is the 2.5 D-TEQ (base, Fleetside, and LE). The engine produces 85kW at 3600rpm/280Nm (from 1800rpm). Fuel consumption is listed as 7.7 litres /100km with CO2 emissions of 203g/km. Low-sulphur diesel (50ppm) is recommended.

The flagship 3.0 D-TEQ (LX specification) has been upgraded for 2013 to 130kW (up by 10kW) and 380Nm (up by 20Nm). The uprated variable geometry Tturbocharger, reduced engine internal friction and optimised fuel-injection and a new large intercooler provide for the increased overall performance and improved fuel economy. The benefits are fewer shifts, easier hill-climbing and off-road driveability.

A new five-speed auto is available.

I managed to put the new KB through its paces at the Thornybush Game Lodge near Hoedspruit in Limpopo. The guys at Isuzu are well versed in 4x4 training and set up an off-road course for us to test its mettle. In short, the KB lived up to its reputation - and then some.

The ride was great, while not exactly class-leading, in the bush. It’s still a very competent off-roader in 4x4 guise. The bakkie is able to absorb large bumps and undulations and grips well through corners. On the tar there’s still some minor rattles from the previous generation but overall, despite being more at home in the bush, the truck is comfortable driving through cities and urban areas.

The on-the-fly mode selector worked well though the flashing warning when the diff-lock disengages can be confusing to the uninitiated.


The all-new Isuzu KB Extended Cab models offer increased interior space via its Flex Doors. The rear-opening extra doors have an interlock that prevents them from being opened unless the front door is opened first.

Interior space is greater than the previous model with the seat back to rear trim panel measurement increased from 425mm to 440mm.

Single-cab units' load bed is longer by 35mm to 2305mm, wider by 40mm to 1570mm but 10mm lower. The Extended Cab has the same internal length as the previous model (1795mm) but is 70mm wider (1530mm). Load box height is 15mm less with a depth of 465mm.

On the Double Cab variants, the load box is 135mm longer (1550mm) and 105mm longer at the top (1485mm. Internal width is up by 70mm to 1530mm and as with Extended Cab, load box height is down by 15mm.

The load bay is kitted with four tie-down brackets and 10 rope hooks along the side.

The lowest payload is the KB 250 D-TEQ Double Cab 4X2 which is rated at 962kg while the LX 300 4x2 Double Cab has a payload of 1133 kg, well ahead of its opposition.

The KB 240 has a towing capacity of 2100 kg and payload of 1146kg.

Standard kit includes mudflaps, split front seat, tinted windows and optional radio fitment.

The Fleetside adds High Ride configuration, engine sump guard, front airbags, manual air con, Floor tunnel console with cup holder. The Fleetside has 6.5J X 16 wheels with 205 R16C tyres. The model may be minimalist in its features but as its name suggest it’s destined for factory floors and farms across South Africa.

The Fleetside safety specification (KB 250 D-TEQ) adds ABS, Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Brake Assist.

Owners of the LE models can add body colour bumpers and radiator grille and side mirrors with turn indicators. LE models benefit from central locking, door unlock button, auto door locking (at speeds over 20 km/h), power windows and side mirrors and Radio/CD player with MP3, USB and Aux connectivity.

Other creature comforts on the LE include cloth trim on its bucket seats, carpets, air con, height adjustable driver’s seat and side steps (double cab).

The ‘LE’ has 7J X 16 alloy wheels fitted with 245/70 R16C tyres.

The top of the range LX specification includes; projector headlights, LED rear lights, chromed grille, door handles and side mirrors.

The interior benefits from a leather steering wheel with satellite controls and cloth trim.LX models have cruise control, park distance control, Climate control (Extended Cab and Double Cab) as well as front and curtain airbags (Double Cab)
LX models are fitted with 7J X 17 alloys and 255/65 R17 AT tyres.


Apart from the Spartan feel of the Base models the higher specced LX and LE have great interiors…for a bakkie that is. The interior has more than a passing resemblance to Chevrolet’s products as KB was developed in conjunction with Chevrolet Trailblazer. You get the sense that Isuzu wants to tap into the lifestyle market with its upgraded trim, dials and centre console, it’s a vast improvement though not quite  as executive cab as that of the Volkswagen Amarok or Ford Ranger.

Isuzu owners are much like their bakkies; they’re tough, hardworking and doggedly loyal. A family friend of mine owns a fifth generation Isuzu bakkie. He uses his bakkie as his workhorse for his business in  Paarl but also as his daily driver…his venerable bakkie was even used to kart around his kids for their Matric ball.

He swears by his Isuzu bakkie (currently over 300 000km on the odometre) refusing to replace his aging bakkie even to the extent where he would eschew upgrading to the sixth generation: “Why should I buy a new bakkie? In all the years I’ve had it nothing ever broke. It works well and that’s the point.”


The new bakkie looks good, is incredibly capable off-road and fulfill the role of utilitarian workhorse with aplomb.

What about its rivals?

The Isuzu faces the SA bakkie sales-dominating Toyota Hilux, Amarok and Ford’s hit Ranger. Judging by our Reader’s Car of the Year poll, the Ranger was the clear favourite amongst new bakkies and new models launched in 2012. The KB may not trump the Ranger in terms of looks but it does have a higher towing capacity and depending on the spec works out to be cheaper.

It’s clear the Isuzu has its work cut out for it as the sixth-generation spear heads General Motors SA exports in Sub-Saharan Africa. You can’t argue with its built-tough off-road prowess but I don’t think the Isuzu has managed to fit into the lifestyle vehicle segment as easily as the Ranger or Mazda’s BT-50. The new Isuzu carries on its rugged nation-building reputation with a model that big, bold and ready to be put to work.



Single Cab
Isuzu KB 250 D-Teq - R229 300
Isuzu KB 250 Fleetside D-Teq - R242 700
Isuzu KB 250 Fleetside D-Teq (Safety) - R244 900   
Isuzu KB 250 LE 4x4 - R315 700
Isuzu KB 250 LE - R274 800
Isuzu KB 300 LX - R311 700
Isuzu KB 300 LX 4x4 - R362 300

Extended Cab
Isuzu KB 250 E/Cab LE - R290 700
Isuzu KB 300 E/Cab LX - R359 400
Isuzu KB 300 E/Cab LX 4x4 - R412 300

Double Cab
Isuzu KB 250 Double Cab LE - R363 200
Isuzu KB 250 Double Cab LE 4x4 - R384 100
Isuzu KB 300 Double Cab LX - R410 400
Isuzu KB 300 Double Cab LX auto - R423 400
Isuzu KB 300 Double Cab LX 4x4 -  R464 400


Single Cab
Isuzu KB 240 Base -  R218 900
Isuzu KB 240 Fleetside - R233 700
Isuzu KB 240 Fleetside 4x4 - R258 500
Isuzu KB 240 LE - R253 200

Double Cab
Isuzu KB 240 Double Cab LE - R309 100
Isuzu KB 240 Double Cab LE 4x4 - R380,200

The new Isuzu KB is covered by a five year or 120 000km warranty with roadside assistance. Purchase includes a five year or 90 000km service (not standard on base models) with intervals at 12 months or 15 000km



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