If it feels as though you’ve waited a long time to see the new Isuzu KB in South Africa – it’s because you have…
Nearly a year after its initial introduction in Europe, the latest generation of the bakkie lovers’ favourite has appeared in South Africa. And now, more than 40 years after the first KB blasted on to the scene with a 65kW 1.6-litre petrol engine, the latest KB is back to dazzle South African loyals.
Those die-hards who’ve waited for the sixth coming might be heartened to know that local engineers down at the company’s Kempston Road plant were integral in the r&d of the new bakkie. What were deemed local requirements were incorporated from day one; chief among these, Alastair Ironside who is GMSA’s marketing general manager said, were an increase in size inline with the big bakkies being put out by Isuzu’s rivals, better all-round comfort, lower maintenance costs, ‘best in class’ ride and handling, the KB had to be a capable off-roader and it had to have decent towing capacity.
The South African launch of the workhorse staple sees the range being bolstered with an all-new 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine to complement Isuzu’s 2.5-litre turbodiesel (in two states of tune, although the low-pressure diesel will only be launched in July 2013) and an upgraded 3.0-litre unit.
On the road, the new generation KB seemed keen to display its decent road manners on a selection of fast gravel and tar roads. The ride through the coil sprung (front) and leaf sprung (rear) suspension proved comfortably compliant as the bakkie tracked true and avoided the jangles one would expect from a vehicle such as this. Standard and higher ride height bodies are also offered.
In another of the local adaptations, 4×4 models also have a differential lock on the rear axle to provide extra security on taxing off-road sections. The rugged 4×4 course the bakkies (and drivers!) were tasked with navigating on the launch was duly polished off, although the bigger torque reserves of the three-litre turbodiesel over the two smaller engines was apparent in some stickier sections.
‘Isuzu is the bakkie specialist,’ Ironside piped up at one point in the presentation. ‘We’re not distracted by passenger cars.’ Indeed, although the GMers must have spent a substantial amount of time in a number of passenger cars to get the KB’s cabin quality levels so high. Across the number of vehicles driven on the launch, the cabins showed improved levels of refinement with low noise and high comfort levels over its forebear, even though a fair amount of fine dust kicked up along the bushveld tracks we made our way through managed to float into the cabin.
Good news for the domestic automotive market is that production will be a more prominent feature in the KB operation with exports of this model to 38 left- and 13 right-hand drive markets being secured, GM Africa head Mario Spangenberg said. This arrangement also gives the local factory a leg-up into the greater African market, now the disparate regions north and south of the equator have been joined.
KB 250 D-Teq – R229 300
KB 250 Fleetside D-Teq – R242 700
KB 250 Fleetside D-Teq (Safety) – R244 900
KB 250 LE 4×4 – R315 700
KB 250 LE – R274 800
KB 300 LX – R311 700
KB 300 LX 4×4 – R362 300
KB 250 E/Cab LE – R290 700
KB 300 E/Cab LX – R359 400
KB 300 E/Cab LX 4×4 – R412 300
KB 250 Double Cab LE – R363 200
KB 250 Double Cab LE 4×4 – R384 100
KB 300 Double Cab LX – R410 400
KB 300 Double Cab LX Automatic – R423 400
KB 300 Double Cab LX 4×4 – R464 400
KB 240 Base – R218 900
KB 240 Fleetside – R233 700
KB 240 Fleetside 4×4 – R258 500
KB 240 LE – R253 200
KB 240 Double Cab LE – R309 100
KB 240 Double Cab LE 4×4 – R380 200
Apart from the two single cab base models, all KBs are sold with a five-year or 90 000km maintenance plan.
* Look out for an exclusive feature of the New Isuzu KB in the April issue of Topcar magazine, on sale now.