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Reader Test: Isuzu KB in Kenya

2007-07-26 08:23

Top: On top of the lookout point at Crater Lake near Lake Naivasha. Muddy fun!
Below: Road between Mombasa and Kilifi - 60 km of this...

Willem Gons

As a "Souf Efrikan" living and working in Kenya, I had to choose a vehicle for both business and private use when arriving here just over eighteen months ago.

As the shockingly bad roads dictate that you need a vehicle with "a bit more" clearance and fuel is on the expensive side, diesel and four-wheel drive is the obvious choice. I chose an Isuzu D-Max 3.0 Turbo Diesel Double Cab 4X4 Pick-up. (Known in South Africa as the KB).

It is a year later, and my vehicle has now done just over 26 000km. Trips to the Masai Mara (300km one way - 11 hours on the road), Mombasa (490km one way - 8 hours), Kilifi (550km one way - 10 hours) have all gone without incident. I only suffered one flat tyre in the Mara.

Impressive fuel economy

My Isuzu is phenomenally economical with an average fuel consumption of 8.5 l/100 km in town and 9 l/100 km on the open road. Now, you might say that I've made a mistake, but in town you idle away most of the time, and very seldom does any more than third gear get hooked.

The bakkie does not shake your intestines loose like the Nissan Hardbody in our fleet, and the aircon works like a charm in the hot weather. No problem whatsoever has been experienced mechanically or otherwise with the vehicle, and, despite the really bad roads, not a creak is heard when negotiating the "average Kenyan road".

Off-road work - no really off road through mud and over rocks and major hills - is taken in its stride, although the buttons working the four-wheel drive system are sometimes a bit tedious. I would prefer a gear lever where you can feel a gear engaging, but that is really the only little problem.

Crawling over rocks in low range first gear at idle is a thrill to behold. This is such a wonderfully powerful engine and I've never been stuck - even in the Masai Mara with its infamous black cotton mud, a black clay that becomes impassable when wet.

Servicing on "Kenyan time"

Service from the local GM centre is good, if a bit slow, but that is par for the course in Kenya. Everything happens, it sometimes just takes a bit of time.

In general, I can recommend an Isuzu Double Cab to anybody who feels that they would need a reliable, efficient vehicle that is both sturdy and comfortable.

My "lorrie" has taken some real abuse on the terrible Kenyan roads, and has consistently returned for more, she will carry 4 people in comfort with a whole weeks provisions in the load box, in temperatures exceeding 40C, and still keep you cool and comfortable in the cab. Truly a remarkable truck with remarkable economy.

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