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Coming up to ex(s)pectations

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Coming up to ex(s)pectationsIsuzu has upgraded its popular KB series of bakkies. GAVIN MYERS took the new KB250 D-TEQ 4x4 double cab LE for a spin.

Do not think yourself fooled. Isuzu really has upgraded the KB (and added three all-new models), despite few immediate tell-tale signs. The changes are not too obvious on anything other than the top LX-spec double cab models. However, the subject of this test – the KB250 LE 4x4 double cab – is perhaps one of the most significant of the revitalised range.

That’s because the KB250’s 2,5-litre D-TEQ diesel engine has, finally, been upgraded. You may remember that, when the KB was launched during 2013, the
2,5 litre was carried over from the previous generation and produced a not-too-significant 85 kW and 280 Nm. The new version’s headline figures are much healthier, and its feels it, too.

This direct-injection, common-rail turbodiesel powerplant now produces 100 kW at 3 600 r/min and 320 Nm between 1 800 and 3 200 r/min. Mid-range lugging ability is strong, even though drive is still sent through a five-speed manual gearbox.

Requiring low-sulphur 50 ppm diesel, this unit is claimed to consume fuel at 7,9 l/100 km on the combined cycle. Our time with the vehicle confirmed this fuel-sipping ability.

Thanks to the upgraded powerplant, the KB250 D-TEQ now boasts improved loading capacity; the payload has been increased from 971 to 1 000 kg. Its gross vehicle and gross combination masses are 3 000 and 5 000 kg, respectively.

Another upgrade, made to all but the base-spec single cabs, is that of electronic stability control (ESC). The system fitted to the KB can be activated in three stages (stability and traction engaged, only stability engaged, or all systems disengaged) and operates unobtrusively.

Other safety equipment includes antilock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, driver and passenger airbags and ISOFIX child-seat anchorage.

The LE-spec equipment list has also seen the addition of cruise control and, lifting the ambiance of the cabin, new seat trim.

While these seats are comfy, one gripe we have is that Isuzu missed the opportunity to refine the KB’s ride quality. Sure, these bakkies are made to work, but the KB falls well short of its rivals in terms striking a good ride comfort/loading capacity balance. It rides very harshly over poor road surfaces – to the discomfort, especially, of passengers.

Included in the R457 400 purchase price is Isuzu Complete Care. Adding great value, this package covers all routine maintenance and regular servicing for five years/90 000 km and roadside assistance for five years/120 000 km. It also includes extensive warranties: a five-year/120 000 km new vehicle warranty and a five-year/unlimited mileage anti-corrosion warranty.

While the recent series of upgrades to the KB – especially the 2,5-litre diesel engine – address many early criticisms and make it a more appealing option, it still feels more “old school” than its class-leading stable mates from Ford and Volkswagen.

 

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