The next 12 months will be the most interesting we’ve seen in recent years. In the space of six months, both the Ranger and Hilux will be replaced, while the all-new Navara and Mitsubishi Triton are waiting in the wings.
Isuzu has prepared its evergreen KB for the battle by introducing a few subtle upgrades to its luxurious KB300 double cab and extended cab models. The range now includes a new flagship — the KB300 LX 4×4 double cab automatic. The five-speed automatic transmission will attract the attention of the small but significant group of customers who prefer a bakkie with only two pedals.
Double cab LX models also receive keyless entry and stop/start technology, as well as a touch-screen infotainment system with integrated DVD, reverse camera and satellite navigation.
The tried and trusted 3,0-litre engine is carried over from the pre-facelift model, but a new 2,5-litre turbodiesel has been introduced for those looking for a bakkie on a budget. This powertrain develops 100kW and 320Nm of torque, which feels perfectly adequate in the entry-level double cab model.
Isuzu took us on a nice route over a koppie near Rustenburg and the engine performed admirably on some fairly steep inclines. On the N4 highway it felt just as good, with more than enough torque to easily overtake slower traffic.
Comfort levels are perfectly acceptable in the entry-level double cab and you are well catered for in the standard features department.
I didn’t get the opportunity to sample a top-spec model with the new infotainment system, but the feedback from other motoring writers was fairly positive. We hope to get one on test shortly and will then be able to comment more fully.
The off-road course wasn’t as tough as the route we drove when the KB was first launched in 2013, but there were enough obstacles to show that the new model is very good off the beaten track. We particularly enjoyed the anti-stall technology, which keeps the car going on an incline. This system is so good that you can slot the car into first gear in low range and take your feet completely off the pedals. The KB 250 was able to idle up every obstacle, apart from a 45-degree incline that Isuzu had set up. However, I was told that the KB300 could do it if the tyre pressures were low enough, which gives some indication of this engine’s power.
Isuzu also took the opportunity to demonstrate its new stability control system on a closed gravel road. An advanced driving instructor did a standard “moose test” (swerving to avoid an object and then back into the lane he was driving on) with the system off and then with it on. With this active safety feature switched off, not even an advanced driver could save it from spinning out at around 80km/h. With the system turned back on, the Isuzu behaved much better and kept the rear axle in check. I did not get the chance to test it myself, but from the sidelines I could see the system working away and winning the fight against the sudden and unexpected changes in direction.
As part of the sales package, Isuzu offers a customer care programme which covers all routine maintenance and roadside emergencies, a five-year/120 000km warranty and a five-year/90 000km service plan.
Extended cab KB 250 D-TEQ F/S 4×2 R 317 000
KB 300 D-TEQ LX 4×2 R 394 200
KB 300 D-TEQ LX 4×4 R 451 800
KB 300 D-TEQ LX 4×2 Auto R 407 500
KB 250 D-TEQ F/S 4×2 R 325 700
KB 250 D-TEQ LE 4×2 R 406 200
KB 250 D-TEQ LE 4×4 R 429 100
KB 300 D-TEQ LX 4×2 R 463 700
KB 300 D-TEQ LX 4×2 Auto R 474 900
KB 300 D-TEQ LX 4×4 R 523 600
KB 300 D-TEQ LX 4×4 Auto R 529 700