Eye on the road, eye on the Isuzu

It’s been about a month since I’ve returned the car keys (I had to do it unfortunately) of the Isuzu KB300; I went on a two week road trip with it – during which I covered more or less 2 500 km – and since my return I’ve noticed one thing: I’m not getting the same stares. In fact, I’m getting zero stares.

Isuzu Adventure 4

A month ago heads did a 360° turn; on the road, at a traffic light, in a parking lot, in the middle of nowhere. But now? Now I’m not even getting a head tilt, never mind a 45° turn.

It baffled me until I realised that aesthetically I looked a bit, uhm, let’s say “bleak”.

I know I always put emphasis on the fact that it is not about the car but all about the driver, however, this time it was all about the car (bakkie).

I was no longer grabbing on to the leather-wrapped steering wheel of a firetruck-red bakkie, I was no longer gliding effortlessly over speed bumps, towering above the rest of the traffic, and covered in a layer of mud that screamed signs of epic travel adventures. And I was also no longer looking like farmer Brown’s wife (or daughter) who turned Mr. Brown’s workhorse into a “lifestyle bakkie” because I’m pretty certain similar thoughts ran through a few of those 360° head turns. First they think, “nice wheels” and after realising that it is a female in the driver’s seat, the next thought is “farmer’s wife” or “construction worker’s daughter”.

Nope. None of the above.

Who said women can’t drive bakkies? Or talk about cars?

Just look at South African motoring journalists like Juliet McGuire or Janine van der Post. And what about those with their hands firmly gripped onto the motorsport industry’s steering wheel like Malikah Daniels, Clare Vale and Nashrene Schloss?

They’ll even show farmer Brown a thing or two.

Isuzu Adventure 2

The Isuzu KB300 is a real head-turner

A month ago driving the KB300 resulted in 360c head turns – on the road, at a traffic light, in a parking lot, in the middle of nowhere – from the Eastern Cape to the Garden Route, to the Western Cape’s wine valleys, through the legendary Gamkaskloof in the Karoo and back into the Eastern Cape.

In Gamkaskloof I got offered to leave the keys behind (thanks, but no thanks), in Knysna two men were whistling as they walked past the Isuzu and in Rawsonville a few pedestrians let out a colourful word filled with admiration. How goes the saying, boys and their toys, right?

But this steed is no toy. It is robust and reliable with modern features.

However, provide the right terrain, throw in a few off-road experts (or off-road players) and you’ll quickly see that putting the vehicle to the test can easily turn driving into a game and turn a bakkie into a toy.

Isuzu Adventure 1

The golden days of the block-type design with that familiar 1990-something stripe – green on white and red on grey – resembling a lightning bolt (or what was it?), is long gone. The new one has curves in all the right places, it looks bulky yet not like an over-the-top monstrosity on steroids.

But besides the shiny aesthetics on the outside, also known as the reason for the all the 360° head turns, the Isuzu KB300 LX 4×4 – with its 3.0 litre DTEQ turbocharged diesel engine – boasts a few features that, after returning the key, I’m missing quite a lot:

(If you’re looking for specs and motor talk of torque and more, visit www.isuzu.co.za).

It’s automatic. I hate that I’m loving automatic so much nowadays, but I’ve experienced the perks of it while on a game drive, and now I’ve experienced it while going down the nail-biting brown snake of a road of Gamkaskloof. It is extremely convenient, even for farmer Brown (a manual option is available as well).

It’s spacious. Obviously there will be a lot of space, it is a bakkie after all, but I remember back in the day that the backseat of bakkies used to be way more cramped. The Isuzu KB300 is spacious in the back and will not merge your knees and chest into one.

Rear Park Assist. You know what’s a problem? When you’ve gotten used to the reversing camera from the Isuzu after two weeks and then you stare at your own car’s radio, waiting for something other than the radio station to be displayed. Even though the camera is sensitive to (no-threat) bushes, it is best to rather be safe than sorry. The beep-beep-beep is like having a personal assistant.

Infotainment. Music, satellite navigation and more are displayed on a 1080p high-definition 6.5 inch screen.

Fuel consumption. 7.9 litres per 100 km? Not too bad at all.

It’s clever. I’m still not sure how this works, but when the temperature dropped to 4°C a little snowflake sign popped up on the dashboard. I thought that the vehicle was overreacting but my thoughts were not even cold and then the first snowflake landed on the windscreen.

Isuzu Adventure 3

Adventuring with Isuzu

Isuzu is celebrating its 80th birthday (#80YearsOfReal) this year; the company started in 1937 in Japan and South Africa caught on a few decades later when in 1972 the country saw its first Isuzu (which was then introduced as the Chevrolet LUV). As the demand for the Isuzu grew, the first Isuzu bakkie rolled off the Kempston Road Plant in Port Elizabeth nine years later, in 1979.

During my recent road trip I had some epic South African adventures with the Isuzu KB300 as my travel partner and celebrated its #80YearsofReal:

Isuzu Road Trip

Storms River Mouth – Tsitsikamma

First I stopped at Storms River Mouth and did a short hiking trail.

Read the blog post: Time for Tsitsikamma tranquility.

Watch the video.

The Garden Route

I spent four days in Knysna and explore the Garden Route’s back roads, towns and even the ocean. 

Read the blog posts: Let the Garden Route WOW you as well as, Outeniqua Nostalgia at Elalini Backpackers.

Watch the video.

Rawsonville

I moved on to Rawsonville and found myself in complete awe of the mountains, vineyards and blossoms.

To watch the video, click here.

Robertson / Pat Busch Mountain Reserve

I went glamping with Africamps at Pat Busch Nature Reserve, explored some of the wineries and the Klaasvoogds Meander.

Read the blog post: Glamping with Africamps at Pat Busch.

Watch the video.

Oudtshoorn / Gamkaskloof

The trip to Gamkaskloof was without a doubt the highlight of it all; I managed to put the Isuzu to the test, experienced snow and the complete off-the-grid silence of Gamkaskloof.

Read the blog post: Going off the grid in Gamkaskloof.

Watch the video.

Snow

Snow will always be beautiful and on my way to Gamkaskloof I saw the first few flakes and upon return the mountains were covered in a white blanket.

Read the blog post: Snowy Swartberg Pass.


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