We help choose the ideal car for your needs and your budget...

Age: 40
Budget: maximum of R175 000
Status: small-business owner
Vehicle type: double-cab bakkie (petrol)


There’s a strict budget and petrol bakkies are cheaper. It doesn’t have to be 4x4, though, and preferably not one of the most popular sellers to keep the price down, but it has to be a double-cab to serve the needs of our small-business owner’s family over weekends.

The vehicle

Avoiding the most popular bakkies means we’ll skip the Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger in favour of three other workhorses. There are more diesels available in the classifieds, but quite a few petrols, too...

Our choice: Isuzu KB240i LE

0 to 100 km/h: 13,2 sec
Top speed: 158 km/h
Power: 94 kW
Torque: 207 N.m
CO2: 326 g/km
CAR fuel index: 14,0 L/100 km

The KB range was redesigned in 2007 with a full 20-plus derivatives on offer, and the 240i sits at the affordable end of the KB’s double-cab line-up. LE spec may not have colour-coded bumpers and wheelarches, but you still get 16-inch alloy wheels with only cruise control and leather upholstery missing from a comprehensive interior package. The 2,4-litre engine replaced the 2,2 and uses SOHC with direct injection, while Delphi engine management and cam timing is tuned for a wide torque spread. Although the diesels are more popular and consume less fuel than the petrol versions, the 2,4-litre engine is easier and cheaper to service and repair.

On the topic of petrol versus diesel, people often become carried away with the higher cost of refuelling a petrol vehicle, but it’s best to calculate your yearly fuel spend for both petrol and diesel examples and allow for a diesel’s extra maintenance costs. Plus, it’s important to consider the initial purchase price. In the long run, it is often cheaper to opt for the petrol version.

We have always praised the KB’s ride and general driving dynamics; somehow, Isuzu has managed to make driving a bakkie not the back-breaking experience that it sometimes is from extra hard suspension. Interior space is quite decent, too. In 2010, the year we’re looking at there, a KB 240i LE 4x2 went for about R280 000 new.

Space: 5 seats, 1 090 kg payload
Safety and aids:  2 airbags, ABS, EBD
Cost of tyres: R7 140
Road test: March 2008 (KB250 D-Tec)

Option 2: Nissan NP300 Hardbody 2,4 Hi-Rider

0 to 100 km/h: 13,5 sec

Top speed: 170 km/h
Power: 105 kW
Torque: 205 N.m
CO2: 326 g/km
CAR fuel index: 14,0 L/100 km

The Hardbody, or NP300, is a solid workhorse, although it’s lacking in creature comforts and the extra space of more modern designs. It has rugged and well-chiselled looks, but interior space is a bit cramped and rear legroom is not great. The dated interior still uses old-fashioned slide controls for heating and fan speed, but it’s all easy to use and dependable. Reliability is the NP300’s big selling point, and you can buy one in the confidence that, after being in production for so long, any initial teething problems have long since been ironed out. Now near the end of its lifecycle, it’s a much safer purchase.

Yes, you miss out on modern styling and perhaps a touch of fuel economy but, if you plan to keep the vehicle for some time, maintenance costs should be lower and mechanical simplicity will save cash when it comes to inevitable repairs down the road. Remember that these smallish petrol engine options lack power, and especially torque, so don’t expect to be able to perform swift overtaking moves. Nevertheless, it can comfortably tow 1,4 tonnes if the trailer is braked, with a payload is 995 kg for the 4x4 and 1 095 kg for the 4x2. In 2010, the NP300 4x2 was priced at about R260 000.

Space: 5 seats, 1 095 kg payload
Safety and aids: 2 airbags, ABS
Cost of tyres: R7 000
Road test: May 2002 (3000TD 4x4)

Option 3: Mazda BT-50 2,6i 4x2 SLE

0 to 100 km/h: 15,8 sec
Top speed: 170 km/h
Power: 92 kW
Torque: 206 N.m
CO2: 305 g/km
CAR fuel index: 13,1 L/100 km

This generation of BT-50 and Ranger may have been based on the same platform (and still are, in their current form), but the Mazda has perennially lost out to the Ford in sales. The two bakkies, despite their common DNA, display different characteristics and the Mazda is a capable vehicle that enjoys a small, but fiercely loyal following here in South Africa. That lineage stretches back to the first B2000 bakkie we tested in 1964.

This BT-50 was launched in 2007, but the petrol versions arrived later and a facelift appeared in 2009 with some enhancements. The double-cab range got front and side airbags; in fact, most models have impressive safety features, including ABS with EBD, as well as leather upholstery. Ground clearance is 207 mm while the braked towing mass is 1 800 kg.

The looks are more rounded and soft than the square-jawed Ranger, which is probably one of the main reasons why the Ford has outsold the Mazda. Interior space is somewhat tight in the rear, so keep that in mind. The engine is a 2,6-litre from Mazda’s own catalogue; in this instance, a development of the old G6 range, and that makes it a reliable unit, if thirsty when compared with the diesels that are sought-after by bakkie owners. The price of a BT-50 2,6i 4x2 SLE back in 2010 was roughly R300 000.

Space: 5 seats,  1 167 kg payload
Safety and aids:  4 airbags, ABS, EBD
Cost of tyres: R7 532
Road test: December 2007 (3,0 CRDi)

Author: Peter Palm

Second hand cars for sale