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Reader Review: Isuzu KB300 D-TEQ DC 4×4

Matt Swarts By:
Friday, September 23rd, 2011 12:54 pm GMT +2

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Recently I was loaned an Isuzu KB300 LX D-Teq Double-Cab to drive for a week and to offer my thoughts.

The Isuzu is a big South African legend. Powered by a 3,0-litre turbodiesel pushing out 120 kW and an earth-shifting 360 N.m of torque, the LX moves the KB range away from its agricultural roots with features such as MP3/CD, cruise control and push button 4-wheel drive. There may still be traces of its agricultural heritage, but this is now a ‘luxury tractor.’

Now, being proper road testers, *cough, * we needed to ensure the Isuzu was up to its off-roading credentials. A mission to the local off-road track was needed. Introducing Bosvark, an intermediate track in Krugersdorp featuring water hazards, climbs, descents, rocks and ‘The Survivor;’ a 22-metre high rock slope that only off roaders with front and rear diff-locks dare attempt. Bosvark looked like a good location to get an idea of what the Isuzu could do.

Before I go any further, I need to make it clear that we are no explorers. I have driven off-road twice in my life and in no way pretend to have the slightest clue as to what I am doing. If anyone out there has any experience, please excuse my ignorance, but I am trying to learn. My co-driver has messed around on quads and once went off-roading with his dad’s friend. And that’s the extent of our “experience”.

Initially one is greeted by a series of axl-benders with an insane descent at the end. With the guys from Bosvark helping me out and coaching me, I got the Isuzu down the slope without getting wedged or breaking anything. Obstacle number two was a series of water troughs. Again, with guidance I navigated the Isuzu in, put some power down and emerged the other side. The car didn’t seem to notice it had crossed though a metre of water.

The Bosvark guys guided my mate and myself through the next two obstacles and sent us onto the rest of the track on our own. Using the map to know where not to go (like up ‘Survivor’) we drove off. With the car in four-wheel drive, low range, and the diff-lock on the entire time, not once did it falter. At one point, while descending a rocky gradient our bravery nearly failed, but the car didn’t seem to notice.

Across about 10 km of trail the car didn’t falter once. If there are any criticisms it is that the turning circle isn’t the best and the running boards mean you scrape on high rocks occasionally, but never did we get a hint that the car was struggling.

So some things we learnt:

  • Take hardcore off-roading slowly. Idle as much as possible and just let the car move you along
  • The really big obstacles are a lot easier if you get your friend to get out the car and help you
  • Everyone needs to spend a Saturday off-roading. It’s good fun
  • Most off-road driving is done with your head out the window looking where the wheels and rocks are
  • Make a day of the trail. This means you won’t rush and break something
  • Ensure you draw straws beforehand to decide who will clean the mud off the car
  • Put Foot Rally: We’re coming next year, hopefully in an Isuzu KB300!

So the day was probably simple by off-road master standards, but for two novices it was a fun day of challenges and learning. The car didn’t show any signs of weakness, was comfortable, powerful and does look good outdoors. Toyota, please lend me a Hilux now?


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