En­ter Isuzu’s 4x4

Grocott's Mail - - MOTORING - By SAM SPILLER

This week’s test car, an XRider se­ries dou­ble cab, was orig­i­nally meant to just be a lim­ited-edi­tion run. How­ever, thanks to a warm and re­cep­tion and high de­mand, Isuzu have de­cided that it will re­main a per­ma­nent ad­di­tion to the KB lineup in this brand re­nais­sance era. So, can this pickup stand up to the stiffest of com­pe­ti­tion?

First things first, some clar­ity must be pro­vided. The KB is the only pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cle that Isuzu cur­rently of­fers to the South African mar­ket, which comes avail­able in sin­gle, ex­tended, or dou­ble cab. This is the case for the ma­jor play­ers in this seg­ment, my test car can­not be writ­ten off as iden­ti­cal to ev­ery vari­a­tion in the lineup, nor to ev­ery vari­a­tion in its com­peti­tor’s lineup. There­fore, any com­par­isons I may use in this re­view will re­fer to al­ter­na­tives that are of­fered in the same price bracket and tech­ni­cal spec­i­fi­ca­tion.

Avail­able with rear-wheeldrive or all-wheel-drive (that fea­tures a dif­fer­en­tial lock for the rear wheels, prices for the X-Rider begin at R396 200 for the for­mer, and R441 200 for the lat­ter. High­lights of the X-Rider, and which dif­fer­en­ti­ate it from the equiv­a­lent Hi-Rider trim level, in­clude leather uphol­stery, a mul­ti­func­tion steer­ing wheels, al­loy wheels, and matte black plas­tic fin­ishes in­stead of the usual chrome. Those ex­ter­nal touches have re­sulted in a very hand­some car, with a strik­ing front façade that is com­pli­mented by swoop­ing lines and the use of color (I es­pe­cially like the name­plate fin­ished in that neon shade of red). How­ever, be­tween those two trim lev­els lies a R30 000 price gap, and I would have a dif­fi­cult time jus­ti­fy­ing that dif­fer­ence. But like I said ear­lier, there seems to be solid de­mand for this de­riv­a­tive.

There is one en­gine avail­able in the X-Rider. A 2.5-litre turbo-diesel that pro­duces 100 kW and 320Nm. While those num­bers did cause me to hes­i­tate at first, it even­tu­ally proved to be quite ca­pa­ble at road and high­way speeds, with the rev counter in­di­cat­ing that you could get a pull even while loaded. Isuzu claims an av­er­age con­sump­tion fig­ure 7.9l/100km on this en­gine, which sounds about right pro­vided that there’s no fur­ni­ture in the back. It’s a de­cent fig­ure for this type of ve­hi­cle.

Inside, the X-Rider comes with all the crea­ture com­forts, such as air con­di­tion­ing, Blue­tooth, cen­tral lock­ing and elec­tric mir­rors, while safety is cov­ered by two airbags, sta­bil­ity con­trol and trac­tion con­trol. I will ad­mit that cri­tiquing a bakkie’s load­ing bay is for­eign to me, but from what I can de­duce by com­par­i­son, lined with fiber­glass and mea­sur­ing at 1000 litres, it seems to be a stan­dard spec­i­fi­ca­tion.

Fi­nally on the road, I am pre­sented with what is eas­ily the big­gest prob­lem with this car: the gear­box. I shall for­ever be for man­u­als, and given the low range on this car, I can fully un­der­stand this five-speed trans­mis­sion be­ing here. But the ra­tios leave a lot to be de­sired. Twice I lost sight of where I was switch­ing and there is a great deal of slack in its move­ment. Sim­ply chang­ing is an event that re­quires ad­di­tional at­ten­tion from the driver.

Driv­ing around town with stop-start traf­fic does not suit this car. On the high­way though, things start to im- prove. Wind noise is kept to a min­i­mum and while I had to keep hand on the wheel, the turbo-diesel had no prob­lem with cling­ing onto the red line. Not bad for a car of this na­ture. Off the road, the X-Rider does very well too. The sus­pen­sion is hard and can give quite a jolt, but the lowrange does a good job of main­tain­ing your as­surity, and the strength of the build is a great tes­ta­ment to Proudly South African.

I have mixed feel­ings about this car. For one, I like the looks, I like the ride and build qual­ity, and I like this en­gine. And for this price bracket, the X- trim adds an ex­tra flair to your wheels. But that trim still can’t ac­count for that price, and that gear­box could use a re­work. I would say it’s def­i­nitely some­thing to con­sider, es­pe­cially if you want a bakkie for its ac­tual util­ity, but I would also re­main con­scious of al­ter­na­tives (those high sales fig­ures must have a rea­son).

Nev­er­the­less, I re­main all for Isuzu, and I am in­ter­ested to see how they’ll do by them­selves. I bid them the best of luck, and hope to drive more of their of­fer­ings in the fu­ture.

BMW M fes­ti­val at Kyalami

The new BMW M4 CS was re­cently un­veiled at the me­dia launch of the first-ever BMW M Fes­ti­val at the Kyalami Grand Prix Cir­cuit in Gaut­eng.

At the fes­ti­val, BMW cus­tomers, fans and car en­thu­si­asts got a sneak pre­view of cur­rent and up­com­ing BMW M mod­els, ex­pe­ri­enced hot laps and booked test drives across the BMW M as well as M Per­for­mance model range. Fes­ti­val go­ers also got the op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in drag races, drift­ing, walk through one of the largest BMW show­rooms with at­trac­tive fi­nance of­fers to choose from, booked test drives, en­joyed live mu­sic by some of South Africa’s top DJs and artists, gourmet food and drinks, a chil­dren’s play area and more.

The BMW DTM race team (Team Sch­nitzer with driver Tom Blomqvist) also made a spe­cial ap­pear­ance at the event and of­fered visi­tors hot laps in the BMW M4 DTM car around the 16turn, 4.522km anti-clock­wise FIA graded cir­cuit.

Mazda re­veals KAI CON­CEPT and VI­SION COUPE

Mazda Mo­tor Cor­po­ra­tion re­vealed two con­cepts at the 2017 Tokyo Mo­tor Show. The Mazda KAI CON­CEPT, a com­pact hatchback that her­alds a new gen­er­a­tion of in­spired ve­hi­cles, made its world pre­miere. It was the sec­ond ap­pear­ance for the Mazda VI­SION COUPE, a de­sign con­cept that de­buted at a pre-show event. Fea­tur­ing the next-gen­er­a­tion SKY­AC­TIV-X petrol en­gine, SKY­AC­TIV-Ve­hi­cle Ar­chi­tec­ture and a more ma­ture ex­pres­sion of the KODO de­sign lan­guage, the KAI CON­CEPT em­bod­ies the tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and styling con­cepts that will de­fine the com­ing gen­er­a­tion of Maz­das. Re­fine­ments in all ar­eas of dy­namic per­for­mance have pro­duced a con­sid­er­ably qui­eter, more com­fort­able ride and en­hanced per­for­mance.

The KAI CON­CEPT fea­tures mus­cu­lar, solid pro­por­tions in a form brought to life by a del­i­cate flow of re­flec­tions over the sides of the body.

Photo: Daniel Gold­berg

The Isuzu KB X-Rider.

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