Motor Mouth

The Isuzu KB300

The Isuzu KB300

More models, more safety, more fun in 2016 Isuzu KBs – One more lifeline

• More power for 2.5-litre engine
• Three new models
• Android connectivity and satnav for top versions
• ESC safety kit boosts off-road flexibility
• At Last! 4×4 for the 3.0 auto

Isuzu’s sixth-generation KB was given a face- and equipment lift late last year, so we won’t bother with that again. The real news is in the teaser above, so read on:

The mainstay 2.5 litre diesel has muscled up, moving from 85 kilowatts and 280 Newton metres to 100 kW and 320 Nm, but fundamentalist fans can relax; the workhorse 58 kW and 170 Nm engine soldiers on in single-cab Base and Fleetside versions. There are no petrol options.

The model range increases from 15 to 18 by adding two KB250 Fleetsides – extended cab and double cab – and the new flagship KB300 LX double cab 4×4 automatic. It’s been too long coming, so we’re glad to see it here at last.

Users demanding internet connectivity and satnav will welcome the new locally developed navigation and entertainment centre with 6.5” touch screen. Its software is basically Android Gingerbread. That was chosen because it has proven solid, reliable and, with a couple of modifications, ideal for automotive use. Maps are by TomTom.

Those who expect top-level city-slicker safety in their plaas bakkies will be pleased to note that electronic stability control (ESC), successfully integrated with SA-optimised suspension, is now standard on every model from KB250 LE single cab upward. It integrates ABS, BAS, EBD, ESP and traction control to keep you safe when emergencies intrude and you run out of talent. It has an unexpected side benefit in four-wheel drive application too, but read on.

So-called soft road vehicles use torque-sensing (Torsen) differentials to transfer power away from slipping wheels to those in contact with Mother Earth in order to claw free. Isuzus and other traditional off-road machines use selectable 4×4 that applies power to both axles simultaneously, but even they can get stuck if one front and one rear wheel is spinning uselessly. The usual backup is a lockable rear differential that keeps power flowing to the back wheel touching ground, thereby scrabbling free.

The KB300 LX Interior

The KB300 LX Interior

But; ‘ello, wot’s this? That ESC kit effectively does the same thing as a Torsen diff by intervening, with selective braking, to transfer power back to the wheels with grip. Your new Isuzu thus gives you one more lifeline before, in desperate circumstances, you need to engage the difflock.

Prices range from R219 400 to R529 700.

Information gathered at a manufacturer-sponsored press event.
Text by Gordon Hall
Pics supplied

 

The Ford Ranger XLT

The Ford Ranger XLT

First Drive: 2016 Ford Rangers – Smooth, safe and connected

Ever wanted to dump that expensive luxury car from your personal fleet, but your conscience won’t let you because your family’s safety comes first?
Now you can, because 2016 Ford Ranger Wildtrak double-cab pickups, with 3.2-litre diesel and six-speed automatic transmission, offer seven airbags; adaptive cruise control with forward alert and heads-up display; lane keeping aid with lane departure warning; driver impairment monitor; front and rear park assist and tyre pressure monitoring.
Not impressed yet? All models above Base specification have ABS brakes with EBA and EBD, ESP with traction control, adaptive load control, trailer sway control and hill launch assist. Four-by-fours have hill descent control as well.
Other Wildtrak features include automatic headlights and wipers, electrochromatic rearview mirror, dual channel climate control, powered windows and folding mirrors, twin 4.2” TFT screens in the instrument cluster and SYNC®2 with voice control, multimedia connectivity and Bluetooth phone. Then there’s a reversing camera for reassurance and trailer hitching.
Its intuitive eight-inch touchscreen enables easy navigation between phone, multimedia and climate control functions. Up to 10 000 enabled voice commands seamlessly access your contact list to make hands-free calls or select music and read incoming texts. Connectivity ports include an SD card slot and two USBs; or create your own Wi-Fi hotspot using USB modem or smart phone.

The Ford Ranger Interior

The Ford Ranger Interior

Other changes include variable ratio, electrically powered, steering for easy manoeuvring in tight spaces and good road feel at freeway speeds; an electronically controlled transfer case on 4×4 models; reprogrammed suspension settings for improved comfort and handling, and easier shifting on manual ‘boxes. The electric power steering reduces fuel consumption by almost three percent.
Thirty-three derivatives span four engines, three body styles, three gearboxes, 4×2 and 4×4 drive trains and six trim levels. The introductory engine (Base models only) is a 2.5-litre petrol motor, next is a 2.2 diesel that comes in two power ratings; either 88- or 118 kW. Finally, there’s the 3.2-litre, 147 kW/470 Nm, five-cylinder diesel used in top models. It was recently treated to a new exhaust gas recirculation system that improves fuel efficiency by up to 18 percent.
Body choices consist of single-, super- and double-cabs, while trim levels are Base, XL, XL-Plus, XLS, XLT and Wildtrak. Gearboxes include five-speed manual on Base models, a six-speed manual at all other levels and an improved six-speed automatic on selected upper-range versions.
The familiarisation drive took us to a privately owned off-road course way out in the Karoo, then up a rocky mountain trail. It must have been quite scary for first-timers, but the Rangers didn’t put a wheel wrong anywhere.
On-sale date is November 2015. Prices range from R212 900 to R596 900
(Information gathered at a manufacturer-sponsored press launch. Pics supplied)