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While attending the final round of the CAR Engineering Challenge, sponsored by Isuzu, in Port Elizabeth yesterday, I had the opportunity to have a first look at the local production version of the highly anticipated sixth-generation Isuzu KB.
The model you see here is a KB300 D-TEQ LX Double-Cab 4×2, fitted with all the trimmings, including very handsome dark chocolate brown leather upholstery. The newcomer arrives at dealerships at the end of March and General Motors says the line-up will be similar to what is offered currently. All three body-styles (double-, extended- and single-cab) will be available from launch and the engine line-up will also be similar to before (but upgraded for extra power/better efficiency).
The newcomer is very attractive in the metal, striking a fine balance between the macho styling of the Ford Ranger and forced flair of the Mazda BT-50. As is the case with all modern pick-ups, it is larger, with a stretched wheelbase to address the tight rear cabin space problem of the previous model.
The interior represents a big step forward with a facia design identical to that of the new Chevrolet Trailblazer. However, the Isuzu has a different grain of plastic finish, and also unique instrumentation, among other small differences.
Local powertrains and specifications remain a secret for now, but in Thailand the KB is offered with a 2,5-litre turbodiesel (87 kW/280 N.m), 2,5-litre VGS turbodiesel (101 kW/320 N.m) and a revised version of the trusty 3,0-litre D-TEQ turbodiesel (132 kW/380 N.m). In South Africa a new 2,4-litre petrol engine will also feature. Five-speed manual transmissions are fitted to most models but overseas Isuzu has introduced a new 5-speed “Rev-Tronic” automatic ‘box that offers a “Sport” mode. All-wheel drive versions also get a new “Terrain Command” system.
As reported before, the 2013 KB uses Isuzu’s new i-GRIP ladderframe chassis that is claimed to be 42 per cent stronger than before. In terms of safety equipment, all South African models will be fitted with airbags (and most with ABS), but electronic stability control will not be available here.
We hope to reveal South African-specific information soon. Watch a video of the UK-spec Isuzu here.