For the third time the fuel-pump attendant asked me if I am sure I wanted 95-octane, unleaded for the bakkie! Even a very confident yes could not remove the puzzled look from his face. This is proof that diesel powertrains (especially turbodiesel) have completely taken over the bakkie scene. So is there any reason to still consider a petrol bakkie today?
The new 2,4-litre, naturally aspirated petrol unit features double-overhead camshafts (DOHC) and four valves per cylinder. It delivers 112 kW at 5 200 r/min and 233 N.m at a highish 4 000 r/min. This immediately points out the difference with a turbodiesel unit that delivers a much higher torque figure, lower down in the rev range that makes for relaxed driving. Therefore, this petrol engine needs to be revved and the five-speed gearbox stirred to achieve good performance. Even so it is no rocket and although more responsive than the KB250 D-TEQ, it will be beaten by its KB300 D-TEQ cousin in a drag race to 100 km/h. Then there is the fuel thirst issue… A weekend’s mixed-cycle driving returned an eyebrow-raising figure of 13,5-litres/100 km…
Could the choice of a petrol engine up the refinement of the vehicle compared to the diesel alternatives? Well, not really, because this unit is fairly rough at higher engine speeds and does send a fair bit of vibration into the cabin. Maybe we got so used to the refined common-rail diesel systems that the difference to petrol engines is not as pronounced as ten years ago.
Isuzu is known for a good ride and this is no different with the KB240 which compares well with class-leading bakkies in the field. Long distance cruising is comfortably done and this bakkie can cross the commercial-leisure vehicle line.
The cabin is shared with the diesel derivatives (including the diesel rev counter wrongly showing a 5 000 r/min redline) and provides a decently put together facia, although no soft plastics are anywhere to be found. The increase in size of the 6th generation Isuzu does provide more room – especially for second row occupants. The drive position is good although a reach adjustable steering column would have been appreciated and taller drivers complained that their shins would sometimes touch the underside of the dash when depressing the clutch. Radio, CD, USB and Bluetooth are provided for as well as a manual air-con system.
We took the vehicle to a picturesque off-road course on the mountains close to Somerset-West and the KB240 did prove itself very capable and conquered all the obstacles along the way. Good ground clearance and low-range in combination with a diff-lock helped to get the vehicle up very steep, rocky slopes with little fuss. Strange drivetrain noises were however noted but could not be pin-pointed to the diff or drive shafts, but may only be applicable to this specific test vehicle.
As we now know, the 6th generation Isuzu is an honest and capable bakkie without being a game-changer in the highly competitive bakkie segment. Brand loyal customers that take the plunge will not be disappointed with their decision but rather consider the diesel derivatives. As long as the price between diesel and petrol stays fairly close, the diesels offer better value in terms of economy, performance and driver enjoyment.
Model: Isuzu KB240 LE DC 4×4
Engine: 2,4-litre, inline, four-cylinder
Power: 112 kW
Torque: 233 N.m
0-100 km/h: 13 seconds (est)
Fuel consumption: 10,5 litres/100 km
Top speed: n/a
CO2 emissions: 248 g/km
Price: R380 200
* All as claimed by Isuzu