Bakkie legend makes history

Bobby Cheetham

THE launch of the new sixth generation Isuzu KB bakkie last week is one of the most important events in the history of General Motors South Africa.

After covering 1.3 million kilometres of testing, mostly on the roads of the Eastern Cape, the KB was launched by the Port Elizabeth-based motor giant in the Thornybush Game Reserve near Hoedspruit in Limpopo.

The introduction of the bakkie to the local market marks the end of GM South Africa’s R1-billion investment on three new vehicle production programmes at the company’s production facility in Port Elizabeth.

The new bakkie joins the locally assembled Chevrolet Spark and the new Chevrolet Utility manufactured at Struandale.

GM is pinning its hopes on the new Isuzu bakkie reaping rich rewards in the local market, as well as future export opportunities in Africa.

The new bakkie is a landmark vehicle for the company as it will be the first time that the company builds a vehicle in both right and left hand drive derivatives for export into sub-Saharan Africa.

Mario Spangenberg, newly appointed president and managing director of GM Africa who oversees the growth of operations across the continent said it was imperative the company increased its exports to the rest of Africa and, where possible, globally.

Where does it fit in?

The bakkie enters the highly competitive one-ton pick-up market with a huge range of 26 distinct models.

It is aimed four-square at the Toyota Hilux. However, General Motors sees the Ford Ranger as the other major competitor.

The range includes a choice of 2.4-litre, petrol-powered single and double cab models, low pressure turbo diesel power on single cab base and Fleetside models. The last, according to GM, is ideally placed for high mileage commercial and fleet users.

There is also the option of latest technology D-TEQ diesel power in 2.5-litre and 3.0-litre versions on single cab, extended cab, and double cab body styles.

How does it look?

Modern, stylish and good-looking, the new KB is 260mm longer – that’s more than 5% – than the previous model. It’s also 60mm wider (up 3%) and 60mm taller (up 3,5%). This translates into an increase in interior space as well as a more space-efficient load box.

The bakkie’s modern styling plays a big part in what GM claims is the lowest coefficient of drag (Cd) in its class, with a full 5% improvement over the previous model.

What’s it like to drive?

The new bakkie drives like a car, and that’s not a criticism either.

It’s very comfortable and it lives up to the KB rugged off-road qualities which have made it a legend in its class. From soft, thick, dry riverbed sand to rough terrain, the bakkie took it in its stride.

Entry and exit from dongas and ditches was good and the bakkie did what was expected of it. On gravel roads it was stable and predictable.

One minor gripe was that the gear lever vibrated excessively, something we had not noticed in the previous generation bakkie.

Any special features?

We were impressed with the new Terrain Command control.

Instead of changing from 4×2 to 4×4 via the push buttons on the dashboard as in the previous generation, it is now positioned near the gear stick between the driver and the passenger.

We were also impressed with the new safety features, normally only found on passenger cars. They incorporate a number of passive and active safety features to, in the first instance, assist in avoiding a collision, and in the second instance protect the occupants if a collision is unavoidable.

Should you buy one?

The Isuzu KB has built a loyal following and the new sixth generation bakkie is undoubtedly going to please them – and many others.

In our opinion, it will also perhaps poach buyers from the Hilux, Ranger and Volkswagen Amarok brands.

The new Isuzu KB is covered by a five-year or 120000km warranty, with roadside assistance. Purchase includes a five year or 90000km service (not standard on base models), with intervals at 12 months or 15000km.

THE SPECS

Isuzu KB 240 Petrol

Engine: 2 405cc 4-cylinder, 16-valve

Power: 112kW at 5200rpm

Torque: 233Nm at 4000rpm

0-100km/h: seconds N/A

Top Speed: km/h N/A

Fuel Consumption: 10.4/100km (claimed combined)

CO2: 245g/km

THE SPECS

Isuzu KB 250 D-TEQ diesel

Engine: 2499cc 4-cylinder, 16-valve

Power: 85kW at 3600rpm

Torque: 280Nm at 1800 – 2200rpm

0-100km/h: seconds N/A

Top Speed: km/h N/A

Fuel Consumption: 7.7/100km (claimed combined)

CO2: 203g/km

THE SPECS

Isuzu KB 300 D-TEQ diesel

Engine: 2999cc 4-cylinder, 16-valve

Power: 130kW at 3600rpm

Torque: 380Nm at 1800 – 2800rpm

0-100km/h: seconds N/A

Top Speed: km/h N/A

Fuel Consumption: 7.7/100km (claimed combined)

CO2: 203g/km

We like: General driving dynamics

We don’t like: Vibrating gear lever

PRICES:

DIESEL

Single Cab

Isuzu KB 250 D-Teq – R229300

Isuzu KB 250 Fleetside D-TEQ – R242700

Isuzu KB 250 Fleetside D-TEQ (Safety) – R244900

Isuzu KB 250 LE 4×4 – R315700

Isuzu KB 250 LE – R274800

Isuzu KB 300 LX – R311700

Isuzu KB 300 LX 4×4 – R362300

Extended Cab

Isuzu KB 250 E/Cab LE –- R290700

Isuzu KB 300 E/Cab LX – R359400

Isuzu KB 300 E/Cab LX 4×4 – R412300

Double Cab

Isuzu KB 250 Double Cab LE – R363200

Isuzu KB 250 Double Cab LE 4×4 – R384100

Isuzu KB 300 Double Cab LX – R410400

Isuzu KB 300 Double Cab LX auto – R423400

Isuzu KB 300 Double Cab LX 4×4 – R464400

PETROL

Single Cab

Isuzu KB 240 Base – R218900

Isuzu KB 240 Fleetside – R233700

Isuzu KB 240 Fleetside 4×4 – R258500

Isuzu KB 240 LE – R253200

Double Cab

Isuzu KB 240 Double Cab LE – R309100

Isuzu KB 240 Double Cab LE 4×4 – R380200

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