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Isuzu KB300 TDi LE

Broadcast dates : 5th September  2004
9th September 2004

Isuzuís new range of KB pick-ups have instant appeal, thanks to a rugged, Americanised look that goes with Isuzuís links to parent company General Motors.

The new KB series is based on a model designed for the Asian-Pacific market. But the South African version is built at the GM plant in Port Elizabeth, and has many features developed in South Africa for our particular conditions.

Our test vehicle is the LE-specification single-cab version, suited for agricultural and heavy industrial work.

Itís the long-wheelbase version, and has a higher ride height than previous 4X4 Isuzus.

The 300 TDi diesel version uses the new up-rated 96 kW four-cylinder turbodiesel engine. This three-litre engine is particularly strong on torque, as Hendrikís work-out at the Protea Off Road Experience trail near Krugersdorp showed. The engine develops 280 Newton Metres at 2 000 rpm.

But in low-ratio, it seems as if most of this torque is available from idle speed. The Isuzu uses double wishbone front suspension with torsion bars rather than coil springs.

At the rear it uses conventional leaf springs with a live axle.

For really rugged work, a solid front axle is preferable, but the Isuzuís wishbone suspension is well protected and offers a better on-road ride.

Neat touches include the drain holes on the load bay, four hinges for the tailgate, and a rugged roll bar.

The tow bar is very neat, being mounted as a chassis cross member and tucked out of harmís way.

The bench seat lacks support, and most members of the Car Torque team would have preferred individual bucket seats.

Engaging four-wheel-drive and low range is now done electronically via a switch on the dashboard.

The rear axle lock is also switched electronically, but on the LE versions, the front hubs still need to be locked manually.

This is a good solid system for off-road use, but itís perhaps a bit too easy to forget to unlock the hubs when regaining tar roads.

With the hubs locked the wheels need a degree of slippage on dirt roads. On tar roads, locked front hubs place too much strain on the transmission, as there is no slippage.

As Proteaís Jannie Rykhaard points out, a rear diff lock can make an enormous difference when the going gets really tough.

Over the Protea 4X4 Experience axle-twisting section, the Isuzu KB shows up remarkably well.

And through the water-trough, the relatively high-mounted air intake in the right front wheel arch enables the Isuzu to cope with waste-high water.

The latest Isuzu is an excellent four-wheel-drive contender. At just over R 240 000, this workhorse version is going to win lots of friends.

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