Madlabantu 4×4 Adventure Trail with the new Isuzu D-MAX

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Isuzu is now taking things to the max, or rather to the D-MAX, as they announced the name change of South Africa’s beloved bakkie from KB to D-MAX.

For the last 40 years of local production Isuzu has established itself as a key player in the bakkie culture of South Africa, not only in the sphere of a leisure and lifestyle vehicle which usually points to the double cab bakkie, but especially in the working environment where single cabs are king, with roughly around 700 single cab units finding new owners every month. The year 2018 has been one with a few big changes; Isuzu Motors South Africa officially launched in South Africa as a wholly owned subsidiary of Isuzu Motors Limited of Japan in February and just a few months later the smart-looking 7-seater mu-X joined the Isuzu SA family. These changes have fit right in with the South African and Sub-Saharan Africa market showing growing volumes in a highly competitive market; in an interview with Wheels24 Isuzu SA said that the August year to date versus the last period last year showed an Isuzu bakkie volume increase of 12.2% and a 20% increase for exports (which primarily consisted of bakkies).

What’s new on the Isuzu D-MAX?

Like a true James Bond power horse, Isuzu Motors South Africa is taking things to the next level and aligning itself with the international market as it introduces itself as: max, D-MAX! Shaken and stirred with a few enhancements and tweaks to its refreshed bakkie range. New name, new things. The most significant change is saying goodbye not only to the name, but also to the five-speed gearbox; the new high-spec 3.0 Litre LX derivatives now comes with a six-speed gearbox for both the automatic and manual models. The interior also ticks all the right boxes with a more upmarket look and feel such as the soft-touch panels and an eight-inch full colour touch screen replacing the 6.5 inch screen on the previous model. From the outside it has a new chromed radiator grille and new tapered chromed accents extending across the full length of the sleeker L-shaped headlight clusters. For more information on the new model, click here.

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The launch of the new Isuzu D-MAX started off in Nelspruit at Umbali where the name was announced poetically with a roar and a bang, by Mama Gcina Mhlophe, a well-known South African freedom fighter, activist, actor, storyteller, poet, playwright, director and author. Great passion and dedication the South African market has gone into the tweaks and new enhancements of these South African engineered bakkies, from adding a dust sealing for dirt roads to seat technology, not only on the fancy smancy 3.0 Litre LX, but also on the D-MAX 250 C single cab which is mostly used in the working environment where wear and tear of getting in and out multiple times a day was taken into consideration.

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Besides improvements to the bakkie, Isuzu Motors South Africa also announced partnering up with 4×4 Mega World to bring accessories to their customers that were previously not available; you can now kit your bakkie out from front to back with bull bar, spot lights, full suspension, snorkel, dash plates and a canopy kitchen unit right at dealer level. There’s also an improved roof rack that can slide down to the side to make items more accessible (if you are a shorty, raise your hand if you think this is awesome too).

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Madlabantu 4×4 Adventure Trail with the new Isuzu D-MAX

The new vehicles were put to the test in the Southwestern part of Kruger National Park on sections of the Madlabantu Adventure Trail in very dry conditions which left the vehicles covered with dust on the outside while the cabin stayed squeaky clean, fresh and cool… the Kruger sun came out to play and it did not kid around.

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The Madlabantu 4×4 Adventure Trail starts on the Pretoriuskop-Fayi Loop and is a 42 km trail through terminalia woodland along the Nsikazi River into Big Five territory. Unfortunately, due to the road conditions in certain parts the trail is still closed to the public and will hopefully be opened soon again (give them a call at Pretoriuskop Rest Camp to find out whether or not it is open). The trail takes about 6 hours to complete and the route is designed to get drivers as close as possible to the different wilderness areas. Only six vehicles are allowed on the trail each day (you can’t book in advance), and you have to leave before 11:00 in the morning should you wish to do the 4×4 trail. Due to low water drifts the trail is weather sensitive and crossings could easily become a mud bath, while it is not a hardcore 4×4 trail with obstacles, there are a few corrosion dongas. Upon arrival back at Pretoriouskop you need to report back at reception. The cost of the trail is R570 per vehicle (R100 deposit), and unless you have a Wild Card, the daily conversation fee for South Africans for Kruger National Park is R93 per adult and R47 per child. There are accommodation facilities such as camp sites, huts, bungalows, family cottages and guest houses at Pretoriouskop Rest Camp as well as a restaurant, filling station and swimming pool. Besides the Madlabantu 4×4 Adventure Trail you can also do a guided bush walk (R545 per person), guided game drives (starting at R245 per person), a bush braai (R775 per person), and the pre-booked overnight Napi Widlerness Trail (R4641 per person).

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From KB to D-MAX: Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.

For years South Africa has known this bakkie as the KB Bakkie. And it was good. It broke records. It went places. It did exceptional things. 

South Africa has nostalgic connections to the name KB and might take some time to get used to calling it a D-MAX and not a KB but the name D-MAX originated in Thailand and also holds symbolic values within its four letters. The ‘D’ originally refers to the 2000 model year Isuzu bakkie which boasted the flush “Dragon Eyes” headlamp design and it also represents Isuzu’s proud legacy in the production of diesel engines, the use of industry-defining direct injection, as well as ground-breaking design and durability; ‘MAX’ signifies Isuzu’s maximum approach to design, size, comfort, technology, performance, safety, durability and line-up.

From KB to D-MAX, South Africa now joins the rest of the world as this bakkie hails: Isuzu D-Max. And it is still good, it will break more records, it will go more places and continue to do exceptional and extraordinary things!

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