A BAKKIE FOR THE FAMILY: 'The Isuzu KB is more than just a tough bakkie built for work,' claims Wheels24's Janine Van der Post. Image: Clavern Van der Post
Cape Town - A bakkie is synonymous with hardwork; a tough machine required for hauling a heavy load, assisting on a farm or to move the supplies to and from your home. Then, being a judge for the SA Women's Car of the Year came along, and I heard the term 'lifestyle bakkie' a few years back and I thought 'What on earth is that?'
Since becoming a mom, a wife and a homeowner, it all makes sense now.
The Toyota Hilux is the premium tough bakkie for off-roading and bundu-bashing; the Ford Ranger has come into its own, and while it's more pleasing on the eye, it's more of a lifestyle vehicle. The Isuzu KB has always been something relegated to construction sites or farmyards - a true workhorse.
The latest version of the KB is much better-looking than it's predecessors. Lines tend to flow into one another along its flanks and its more curvaceous than its previous obtrusive, blocky design. Dare I say I think its better-looking than a Toyota Hilux? With that said, I think the Mitsubishi Triton is even more appealing than the Isuzu, but the Ford Ranger will always be the Victoria Secret model among bakkies.
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My family isn't exactly the type for loading a vehicle with gear and venturing into the bundus for a camping trip, nor do we require stowage for surfboards when headed for the beach. We do however attend rugby matches a lot and this means dealing with dirt, grass and grime has become the norm. Having an extremely busy, car-loving toddler means I'm forced to keep her entertained and possibly isolated during matches.
Image: Janine Van der Post
The loadbox of a bakkie makes for a great impromptu play area; add a mattress and duvet for comfortable seating and she'll be busy for hours with her favourite toys and cars. And, it makes for the best seat in the house, watching the game from the tailgate.
And, we've taken up gardening so the Isuzu KB300 comes in handy for hauling cement and garden tiles as well as stones with ease. The unit we had on test had already endured some heavy loads judging by the many scrapes and dings. If there's an option for a rubberised loadbox, I'd definitely recommend it to retain and lengthen the loadbox's durability.
Driving it isn't much of a task either. Sure, it doesn't feel as nippy nor as comfortable as a hatchback but it's simple enough to drive. Gear shifting is easy and smooth and it has plenty of torque (380Nm) for any hard work needed, or even overtaking, yet it also accelerates fast despite its size.
The KB300's important figures are 130kW/380Nm from 1800-2800rpm, mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. It's fitted with 4WD Rotary Switch Control with a 2-speed transfer case. There's a rear-differential lock button below the facia, while modes can be shifted on the fly at speeds of up to 100km/h by toggling the switch along the gear lever. Combined fuel consumption is rated at a claimed 7.9-litres/100km from its 80-litre fuel tank. Usually fuel figures are always debatable and depends on driving style but the KB300 is rather fuel efficient.
Niceties include integrated LED Daytime Running Lights, a rearview camera, 18" alloys, keyless entry, leather seats and a touch-screen radio with navigation, mated with Bluetooth audio streaming capability. I love the fact that once you've connected your phone to the car's Bluetooth, it stays connected even when you turn off the vehicle and start it up again.
It has a gear-shifter on the instrument cluster, an engine sop/start button. Other safety features include electronic stability control (ESC), with elements like brake assist, traction control, electronic brake-force distribution and anti-lock braking systems. The LX double cab is fitted with six airbags.
The KB300 Double Cab D-Teq 4x4 LX retails from R549 800.
Image: Clavern Van der Post