On my first day at Leisure Wheels I came in with my very own car – a 2012 Kia Picanto in Alice Blue. It’s not the most masculine car around, but it gets me where I’m going, albeit very slowly.
I left that afternoon after being partnered with the new Isuzu KB 300 LX. To say I was everlastingly thankful is an understatement. My testosterone count increased immediately and I no longer had to travel home with a paper bag over my head. I love my little Picanto, but it’s not exactly the most masculine or imposing machine on the road.
The Picanto and Isuzu are polar opposites in this regard. In the Picanto you get bullied, in the Isuzu you get respect. Climbing aboard the KB is like being promoted to the position of capo di tutti capi (Godfather) in the mob.
There are many reasons for this respect, the most import of which is heritage. The KB is an institution in South Africa and it has a hardcore following that’ll defend its honour next to braaivleis fires across the country. I find myself relating to these people, as I’ve had to defend the Isuzu a few times myself over the past month.
It has a few problems, mostly in the engine department. Isuzu fans had to wait a long time for the new KB to arrive and when it finally did, it came out looking basically the same as before and fitted with the same engines as before.
It’s not actually as bad as it seems though. The styling, in my own personal opinion, is great. I like the fact that Isuzu took the previous model and simply gave it a proper facelift. It has a certain macho charm that’s been lost on some of its main competitors.
On the engine front I have to agree with the critics. The new upgraded engine may have more power (130kW/380Nm) than before, but there’s no hiding the fact that it’s getting on a bit. The noise and vibration levels are undoubtedly a step behind bakkies like the Ford Ranger and Volkswagen Amarok.
Having said that, there’s nothing wrong with the performance, or the fuel consumption for that matter. There’s loads of torque low down for off-roading and overtaking on the highway is a breeze in fifth. It’s average consumption figure of 9,3 l/100km is rather impressive for such and old school engine.
I’ve also grown quite fond of the interior. The brown leather seats, which aren’t a favourite in the office, don’t bother me that much. Comfort and convenience levels are on par with the best in the segment, but there is one major irritant that really grinds me every time I have to deal with it. The KB does have a USB port, but it’s a mini port placed on the centre console. That means you have to buy a cable extension, which enables you to use a full size USB stick. It works perfectly once you get it going, but the cable dangling freely down the front of the centre console isn’t a neat arrangement and it usually ends up getting in the way.
Other than that, the KB has been a perfect day-to-day partner. Living with a bakkie, especially one as good as this, really makes life that much easier for a family man like myself.
We’ll soon be using the KB to move house and I’ll report back soon to give some feedback on how the Isuzu fares as a workhorse.