DRIVING IMPRESSION: Isuzu KB300 D-TEQ Extended Cab 4x4 LX

BY CHARL BOSCH - NOVEMBER 9, 2015

Extra cab or cab-and-a-half bakkies, as they are more commonly known, have always been a type of niche within South Africa’s strongest selling vehicle segment.

Most often bought by people seeking additional space over a single cab, but without having to cart individuals on a rear bench like a double cab, the extra cab has become more of a working tool instead of the latter’s status as a full-blown lifestyle vehicle.

While it may no longer occupy its long standing position as the country’s second best-selling bakkie, there is little doubt that the cab-and-a-half version of the Isuzu KB has always been one of most popular choices despite the usual challenges from Toyota, Ford, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Nissan.

Originally tested in base spec 250 D-TEQ LE guise last year, the KB Extended Cab rated as one of my absolute favourites, not only because it featured on my bucket list, but mostly due to it being a complete surprise thanks to a generous list of standard kit, eager to impress turbodiesel engine and Isuzu’s trademark car-like ride setup.

With its biggest rivals about to launch either all-new or refreshed offerings, Isuzu has wasted little time in affording the KB a fighting chance, albeit in the slightest of forms.

Although facelifts are often characterised by a completely revised noses or new headlights with a bigger bumper, the KB has remained mostly the same with the only exterior change being the addition of LED daytime running lights in a redesigned chromed bezel opposite the lower air intake.

Small this might be, it still does not deter from the fact that the KB remains a good looking vehicle with its massive chromed grille housing the oversized Isuzu logo, chromed mirrors, angled headlights, (optional) 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in all-terrain rubber, and aftermarket tonneau cover.

Whereas lesser models receive a completely brand new Bluetooth enabled sound system, and the range topping LX double cab a new touchscreen infotainment setup, the Extended Cab’s interior continues as is with the previous dot matrix audio interface still taking centre stage on the facia.

Like the LE, the LX’s choice of interior plastics, although not the softest, felt rugged and well-constructed with the additions of satin silver inserts giving it a more airy feel.

That said, the cab still rates as one of the most spacious with lots of a head and leg room, and a myriad of storage areas, the most prominent being a split glovebox, cubby hole on top of the dashboard, storage box between the seats, coin trays that doubles up as cupholders underneath the outer air vents, and an overhead sunglass holder.

As with its rivals, the KB’s backwards opening suicide rear doors remains impressive, and opens quite wide to reveal an underfloor storage compartment on the passenger side and a lockable storage box behind the driver’s seat.

With our test model being the flagship 300 D-TEQ LX 4x4, standard spec has gone-up a notch with items including traction control, rear parking sensors, four-speaker sound system with Aux / USB and Bluetooth audio streaming, steering wheel mounted volume controls, diff-lock, electric windows, auto lock/unlock doors, electrically retractable mirrors, cruise control, dual front airbags, ABS with EDB and BAS.

Also escaping the facelift unchanged, the LX’s 3.0-litre D-TEQ turbodiesel engine might not be the newest or most powerful in the class, but continues to impress the way it distributes the 130 kW and 380 N.m of torque on-tap.

With the latter available from as low as 1 800 rpm, stamping on the accelerator brings to light that typical Isuzu diesel clatter, before the turbo spools right up to 2 800 rpm as you hook another gear. Narrow the torque band might be, the D-TEQ feels far from being lazy and reacts immediately each time you exercise your right foot.

Although Isuzu claims a combined fuel consumption figure of 7.9 L/100 km, the LX spend most of its time doing the daily commute and running errands before undertaking a final outing to the PE beachfront, where the trip computer refused to dip lower than 10.7 L/100 km.

Keeping the momentum going, the LX’s five-speed manual gearbox requires a firm hand to avoid grating each time you bang up the box, while the clutch action is excellent for a bakkie with a near-on perfect bite point.

While there was little time to turn the rotary dial from 2H to 4H or 4L, previous off-road encounters with the double cab have shown the KB to be formidable contender in the bush, although it is advised to rather opt for the standard 17-inch AT tyres as the 18-inch 255/60 tekkies on our tester, provided a very frim ride when on the black stuff.

It might be three years old now but there is little doubt that the Isuzu KB Extended Cab remains a worthwhile offering compared to its rivals. Although the double cab will still rate as the most popular cab configuration model, the Extended Cab makes for the perfect option if space is top of your must-have list.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

ENGINE LAYOUT DOHC 16v Inline 4
DISPLACEMENT 2,999 cc
MAX POWER 130 kW @3600 rpm
MAX TORQUE 380 N.m @1800-2800 rpm
DRIVE LAYOUT Front engine; Rear-wheel drive / Four-wheel drive
TRANSMISSION Five-speed manual
ACCELERATION [0-100 KM/H] n/a
TOP SPEED n/a
FUEL CONSUMPTION 10.7 L/100 km*
EMISSIONS 209 g/km

 

*Fuel consumption as tested