“No other country idolises the humble one-ton pick-up with such fervour as South Africa. Despite is unmistakably utilitarian roots, the bakkie is much more than a load-carrying beast in the local context: it’s also a small business transporter, family commuter, agricultural workhorse, and leisure machine for holiday travel. In short, it’s a true jack-of-all-trades. Does the sixth-generation Isuzu KB range make the grade?
Last month, Toyota sold 3,500 examples of its Hilux one-ton pick up in South Africa, and exported a further 7,146 units. Between them, Ford’s Ranger and the Mazda BT-50 (essentially the same vehicle) accounted for another 2, 074 local and 1, 742 export sales. Nissan’s local Hardbody sales tally came to 714 units, but it exported just short of 2,000 units.
If anything, these statistics show the massive sales potential for one-ton bakkies on local and African soil, and just how important the one-ton segment is to the South African motor industry.
The Isuzu KB has always been a significant player in the one-ton arena. But until last week, it had to rely on an ageing model to counter the strong retail push from rivals like Toyota and Ford, in particular. The fifth-generation KB has been around since 2004, and even a 2007 facelift wasn’t enough to properly challenge the latest contenders from the Hilux and, more recently, the Ranger stables.”