All about the base: Maximising space the forte of the Isuzu KB Extended Cab

BY CHARL BOSCH - DECEMBER 8, 2014

Since starting out at Business Link Magazine’s parent company, Ricochet Publishing, two years ago, I have been fortunate to have driven most of the cars - sans supercars, on my bucket list, whether it be the super impressive Ford Fiesta EcoBoost, to the fire-breathing can-only-be-described-in-strong language, Opel Astra OPC.

Although all my test subjects had left various impressions on me, there was one vehicle that I had wanted to drive right from the beginning. It might come as a surprise to you that this vehicle is not a 300 km/h supercar or a hot hatch with a quad-turbo engine, but rather a bakkie, to be more precise, the Isuzu KB Extended Cab.

Having already driven both the double cab and single cab versions of the KB, it was only natural that the Extended Cab would follow. So what made this so special compared to the OPC that blew my mind away with 206 kW’s worth of TNT and made my boyhood dream of driving a fast Opel reality?

Frankly, I don’t have the words or logic to explain why, but when our metallic blue KB250 D-TEQ Extended Cab LE arrived, the smile on my face was instant, and it stayed there for the whole of our week-long test.

Despite its position as the entry-level model in the Extended Cab line-up, the LE is by no means basic in spite of it being viewed as the workhorse in the range.

From a styling perspective, the now two-year old locally-built KB still remains one of the most striking bakkies on the market with its oversized ISUZU badge on the grille, angled headlights that cuts into the bonnet line and deep front bumper.

Aside from missing a few of the LX’s bright work and the rotary switch for the climate control on the centre hangdown section, the interior of the LE is surprisingly plush for a supposed entry-level workhouse.

As it was developed alongside the Chevrolet TrailBlazer SUV, which it also underpins, the LE features the same dual-cockpit interior layout with sturdy feeling plastics and a clean modern appearance.

Like its fellow cab-and-half rivals, the KB Extended Cab comes fitted with dual backwards opening, or suicide, rear doors. This helps improve access to the rear which houses a lockdown storage box behind the driver’s seat, and a under floor storage compartment on the passenger side.

Speaking of storage, the Extended Cab features a myriad of compartments which includes a split glovebox, cubby hole at the top of the facia, cupholders underneath the air-vents, which can also double-up as coin trays, door pockets with drink-holders big enough for 1.5-litre bottles, and a second box between the front seats.

Standard equipment includes a two-speaker radio/CD/MP3 sound system with USB and aux input, manual air conditioning, Bluetooth, auto locking doors, electric windows and mirrors, dual airbags, ABS with EBD and EBA, rear diff-lock and 17-inch all-terrain alloy wheels - again, quite a lot for a ‘base’ model.

It is on the move however, that the Extended Cab really shone. Renowned for offering the best ride quality in the bakkie sector, this proved to be the case yet again as it took everything I could throw at it in its stride. This includes taking it on a reasonable gravel road near my home and reaching almost 100 km/h. Even at that speed, it remained comfortable and didn’t feel like it was about to swap ends on me.

Where it further impressed was the engine. The previous KB250 I drove, a single cab Fleetside workhorse, featured a low pressure turbo making only 58 kW, yet it took me completely by surprise.

For 250 models sporting the D-TEQ nomenclature, power has been raised to 85 kW with 280 N.m of torque on tap. Although this might not sound like much on paper, the motor felt strong and proved eager to rev. At highway speeds, there was little engine or wind noise, until prodding the accelerator brought to life that typical Isuzu diesel clatter with a satisfying whoosh from the turbo.

Drive goes to the rear wheels through a five-speed manual gearbox. Despite the tranny being of the long throw variety, the shifts were slick and felt mechanical, much to my delight.

Never have I enjoyed any of my test vehicles as much as this Isuzu. In fact, I even started thinking up excuses just to drive it. In Extended Cab guise, it trounces the single cab from a work/leisure perspective and, if a family is not your concern, makes much more sense than the double cab. Although it doesn’t have the power and spec of the 300 LX model, the 250 LE proves that base doesn’t always mean bad.

To book a test drive, visit Williams Hunt Williams Moffat, cnr of Knight Street and William Moffett Expressway, or contact them on 041 396 4600.

 

Photo courtesy of www.isuzu.co.za