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No-frills Isuzu

No-frills Isuzu

Making perfect cents for country life – The no-frills Isuzu KB 250 D-TEQ Fleetside 4×2 isn’t the best-looking bakkie on the block, but it’s dependable, economical and good value.

Words: Stephen Smith

Pictures: Stephen Smith and Supplied

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People speak of having ‘spirit animals’ – an animal that is supposed to be a representation of your character traits or skills. I’m not sure I buy into this, but I do think there is such a thing as a ‘spirit car’, and the Isuzu KB 250 double cab is mine.

I tinker and potter. And to me the Isuzu feels like it’s also a tinkerer and a potterer by nature; a jack-of-all-trades. It’s not high powered and flashy, but it’s dependable and it does everything well enough.

The engine doesn’t offer the most power or torque in its class, but all the power that it does produce is useable and available through a wide range of revs, making the KB 250 very driveable. It’s also a very economical engine, with a claimed average fuel consumption of 7,7 litres/100km and, if history is anything to go by, it’s an engine that will keep on ticking over for many hundreds of thousands of kilometres.

I took the KB 250 to my in-laws’ farm for a couple of days, and while I was there I did the things I normally end up doing – helping to fix broken irrigation pivots, check that other pivots hadn’t got stuck and were wasting water, herd cows and ensure that they weren’t where they weren’t supposed to be. Instead of using the farm bakkie, I used the Isuzu for all these little tasks, and it really did present a strong argument in its favour.

So many bakkies these days, especially double cabs, are becoming more car-like, closer to luxury SUVs than workhorses. It makes sense for many lifestyle buyers, but some people still want a bakkie that feels like a bakkie, with a few luxuries thrown in to make life simpler and more comfortable. This is the KB 250 Fleetside. It’s a simple, few-frills vehicle and as such there are certain features whose absence people will notice. Yes, other double cabs (including other Isuzus) have remote central locking, cruise control, park distance control, and bigger wheels (but those other vehicles aren’t even close to this price).

What the KB 250 Fleetside does have are electronic stability control, ABS braking, brake assist, ISOFIX child-seat attachment and dual front airbags. Manual air conditioning is also standard, as are electric windows and a sound system that is iPod compatible and has a USB slot, and even a built-in Bluetooth system for audio or your phone. This is by no means an unsubstantial list of equipment.

My test vehicle also had a rear diff-lock, but I understand that’s an optional extra – pity, but at R3 800 it’s affordable to tack on, and so useful. The KB range also has one of the most comfortable suspension setups in the bakkie world, which to me is far more important than being the best-looking bakkie (that crown has to be firmly placed on the handsome head of the Ford Ranger).

Driving through fields of wheat, gold and rippling in the wind, I managed to get, while not actually stuck, at least temporarily held up. I reversed a foot, flicked the diff-lock on, and trundled through the mud with no more than a partial wheelspin. A diff-lock should be standard on every bakkie, in my mind.

The KB 250 Fleetside looks very similar to its more illustrious KB stablemates, the only real differences being the chrome grille on the more expensive models, and alloy rims as standard. The workman-like KB 250 Fleetside has been given ‘hi-rider’ suspension, so has the same high ground clearance and road presence of the other KBs.

As I’ve said, it isn’t the most powerful double cab in the Isuzu line-up, or the KB with the most features, but it definitely ticks a lot of boxes. In a time where it’s hard to find a family sedan for R300 000, a double cab for R325 700 seems very good value – it’s R80 000 cheaper than the next most expensive Isuzu double cab, and it’s essentially the very same vehicle. The price includes a 5-year/120 000km warranty and a 5-year/90 000km service plan.

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Fact file

  • Name: Isuzu KB 250 D-TEQ Fleetside 4×2
  • Body type: Double-cab bakkie
  • Engine capacity: 2,5-litre turbodiesel
  • Power output: 100kW Torque: 320Nm
  • Gearbox: 5-speed manual
  • Price: R325 700

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