Up­dated KB

Tested in the Namib

Nam Wheels - - FRONT PAGE -

Gen­eral Mo­tors South Africa were kind enough to take a hand­ful of mo­tor­ing jour­nal­ists into the dunes of the Namib for two days to sam­ple the all new Isuzu KB300 to see how it stacks up against not only the com­pe­ti­tion, but its older brother.

We were met at the Walvis Bay air­port by the friendly Gen­eral Mo­tors and film crew, where we were given a choice of ei­ther a dou­ble cab or ex­tended cab; some in man­ual, some in auto guise.

A 30km gravel road to Rooibank was to be the first ex­pe­ri­ence in the all new KB and as far as first im­pres­sions go, this was a good one.

The new Isuzu is noth­ing more than a facelift; a new front fa­cia, re­shaped load bin lid (with the rear view cam­era now moved into the han­dle mould­ing) and all new spoked al­loys take care of the ex­te­rior changes.

This means the new KB still has those great road han­dling man­ners we came to like from the pre-facelift model.

The KB300 feels planted to the gravel sur­face at the 80km/h dis­trict road speed limit and slightly over.

I’m sure, how­ever, it is equally solid at higher speeds when all four wheels are en­gaged.

Chang­ing from 2H to 4H can be done at speeds up to 110km/h via a se­lec­tion dial on the cen­tre con­sole while 4H to 4L is lim­ited to 15km/h trans­mis­sion in neu­tral.

Body roll is hard to in­duce and the cab stays fairly level through cor­ner­ing. It is, how­ever, easy to step the tail out with the trac­tion con­trol sys­tem turned off fully; but it re­mains easy to con­trol through­out the slide.

As with the sus­pen­sion setup, the motor has been left un­touched and still pro­duces 130kw and 320nm of torque that peaks at 2,200rpm. Power de­liv­ery is smooth and on tap when needed.

Turbo lag seems rel­a­tively min­i­mal for a high ca­pac­ity diesel motor, per­fect for con­quer­ing the dunes of the Namib or curb jump­ing at your lo­cal mall. With the tyres de­flated to 0.8 bar, the new KB300 has no is­sues climb­ing up steep dunes if tak­ing the cor­rect line.

It is pos­si­ble to get the KB stuck, but more of­ten than not, it stems from driver er­ror and not a lack of power.

Diesels can be no­to­ri­ously tricky for dune ex­cur­sions, but shift to third gear and the KB300 mer­rily cruises along at 1,600rpm, just be­fore the turbo swings into full boost, giv­ing you am­ple oomph to power up big sand heaps.

This leaves the driver with nearly 2,000rpm worth of steam to crest some of the higher dunes near Walvis Bay as power ta­pers off at 3,600rpm.

The in­te­rior has also seen a slight re­fresh. The in­stru­ment clus­ter is all new and in­te­grates a shift in­di­ca­tor for op­ti­mal shift­ing and pas­sive en­try with a Stop/start but­ton as well as touch screen nav­i­ga­tion which now comes stan­dard on LX mod­els and in­cludes Wi-fi Con­nec­tiv­ity.

The six way elec­tronic ad­just­ment fea­ture on the ( op­tional) leather seats gives the driver enough move­ment to get an op­ti­mal driv­ing po­si­tion, so im­por­tant when travers­ing down the slip-face of a dune.

The KB’S cabin is still mostly made up of hard plas­tics, but fit and fin­ish ap­pears to be good.

Hon­estly, there’s lit­tle sep­a­rat­ing the cream of the crop in this seg­ment and it all comes down to per­sonal pref­er­ence and small de­tails.

If the Isuzu KB300 is yours, it’s a great one; it per­forms fan­tas­ti­cally, looks good and comes in slightly cheaper than a com­pa­ra­ble Hilux.

Isuzu have also proven their com­mit­ment to client ser­vice by scoop­ing the IP­SOS award in June of this year and, most im­por­tantly, it’s avail­able in some great colours other than white.

Sin­gle Cab Prices range from N$239,000 to N$389,000. Dou­ble Cabs will cost you any­thing from N$348,600 to N$569,000 while the KB Ex­tended Cab range is priced from N$344,000 to N$481,500.

“...still has those great road han­dling man­ners...”

Text Anco Baard Im­ages Gen­eral Mo­tors South Africa

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