Cars - Isuzu

Road tests and reviews of the latest Isuzu models available in South Africa

2016 Isuzu KB 250 LE

By Franky Johnson

Late in 2015 General Motors extended the KB range of Isuzu bakkies to include three additional re-configured derivatives, which has now increased the range to no less than 18 derivatives.

Included in the new range is a significantly up-rated version of the 2.5-litre D-TEQ turbo-diesel for the Fleetside and LE models, and the single cab KB 250 LE model which is the vehicle we feature in these road impressions. It’s interesting to note that the KB nomenclature is unique to Southern Africa having been in use since 1981.

The Isuzu KB Single Cab is a true workhorse purpose built to get the job done, and yet the new models come with comfort and conveniences that have all been the preserve of higher spec passenger vehicles.

Externally the new Isuzu-KB-single-cab-bakkie-is fitted with a new centre high mounted stop lamp for added visibility, new combination LED lamp clusters, and the LE rides on 5-arm macho alloy wheels which on the press vehicle were shod with chunky 255/65R17 Goodyear Highway tyres with we are told improves rolling resistance, and the load box is constructed with extra thick metal gauge to take on any load, and rugged, black plastic rear step bumper, black front bumper and valance.

On the inside the Isuzu Single Cab is supplied with a comfortable 60 / 40 split bench seat that can easily seat 3 adults safely through two 3-point harness seatbelts and one lap belt and what appears to be a hard wearing, but attractive cloth material, which I prefer to leather, especially in Durban’s summer months, and a height adjustable steering wheel. The raised ride height makes it difficult for some folk, especially women wearing short dresses, to climb in and out the cab.

In terms of storage space there’s two cubby holes, one above the other, door storage pockets with built-in cup-holders and an oddments tray above the centre dash. The dashboard and centre console, which is similar to that in the Chevrolet Trailblazer, with all switches and controls logically positioned and all fall easily to hand.

Other standard features are electric windows, a Bluetooth-enabled sound system for easy phone integration, with radio while you can listen to your own music through the CD player, MP3s and USB devices.

Safety items include driver and passenger airbags, front disc and rear drum brakes, and electronic aids such as ABS, Electronic Brake-Force Distribution, Traction Control and Brake Assist.

The Isuzu KB 250 D-Teq LE single cab 4x4 is powered by a 2 499 cc 4-cylinder turbo-diesel engine that develops 100 kw at 3 600 rpm and 320 Nm of torque from 1 800 rpm, and is linked to a 5-speed manual gearbox. The engine is quiet noisy at idle and parking speeds, but once on the road, with the aircon on and the windows closed, it does quieten down and normal conversation is possible in the cab.

Regarding performance, the 0 to 100 km/h sprint was achieved in 13.2 seconds after two gear changes, which is fair for a diesel and top speed is in the region of 170 km/h.

Isuzu claims a combined cycle fuel consumption of 7.9 lts / 100km however over the week I had the KB250LE on test I averaged 9.6 litres per 100 kms which is perhaps more realistic.

Travelling on the freeway at the 120 km/h limit the motor spins at just 2 500 rpm in 5th, and when going up hills, the strong torque keeps it on the boil. The ride with no load aboard is firm and quite “bouncy”. This bounciness and the relative shortage of grip means that you need to be cautious on slippery roundabouts, because an excessively heavy right foot will induce a fair amount of rear-end slide. However, I’m sure that it will be a lot more comfortable with a full load aboard, with more traction, which the bakkie is actually built for.

Surprisingly the Isuzu does very well on twisty roads, with good grip, a bit of tyre squeal in tight turns at highish speeds, but power was adequate, even for overtaking if you drop a gear for extra boost. For those who need to tow, the new Isuzu KB250 LE is capable of towing a trailer of up to 3 500 kg and a payload of up to 1 174 kg.

The power steering is quite heavy and the 3-spoke leather covered steering wheel needs quite a lot of “twirling” in tight parking spaces although the turning radius is quite good.

Tested on the off-road track, selecting 4-wheel drive was simple to use with the single Terrain Command Dial located centrally on the console between the driver and passenger seats. Also standard is a driver activated differential lock, for really extreme conditions.

On the deep sandy tracks, the KB had no trouble getting through in 4-high, but at the real 4x4 course, selecting 4x4 low range and 1st gear, I found it quite satisfying as to how easy the Isuzu handled all the obstacles. Also I must make mention of how well the excellent braking system worked in all conditions.

The Isuzu Single Cab D-Teq KB 250 4x4 LE with the 5-speed manual transmission is priced at R364 600, which includes a 5 year/90 000 km service plan, a 5 year/120 000 km warranty with roadside assistance, Anti-corrosion warranty protection for 5 years unlimited km, and service intervals is 12 months or 15 000 km.

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