Isuzu KB 300 4X4
Last week I spent two adrenalin filled days with the Isuzu team in the dunes of the Namib desert, putting the very attractive, capable Isuzu KB 300 4X4 through its paces. The landscape is ideal to expose any shortcomings that any 4×4 vehicle might have, but I must say that the Isuzu acquitted itself very well on all fronts.
We arrived on Thursday, and it was straight into the vehicles for a 30km drive into the dunes, and when you saw them rising out of the horizon like giants, it was with a thrill of trepidation that we slammed them into 4H and gunned them into the sand drifts.
The first day we drove a double cab auto variant, and this is the way to go, it does all the thinking for you in terms of gear changes, and all you have to do is have momentum. Thats not to say that you can’t get stuck driving the auto, on the contrary, if you do not ensure that your momentum is sufficient, you will bog down.
We did a variety of medium size dunes and a few smaller slipfaces to arrive at a destination in the desert simply known as ‘’karrettjie’’ This is a jeep that was used to drill for water back in the day, which broke down one day, and it’s still there, cutting a forlorn figure in this stark landscape.
After a great evening with the Isuzu team sampling the beers of Namibia, we headed out in a misty, quite cool morning, for the salt flats near Walvis Bay. The dunes here are one of the few places where dune meets the sea, and obviously it is not a place you want to be on a high tide.
Then we entered the dunes going into 4L, and immediately it was plain to see that these dunes were the real test. A few minutes in, the bakkies started to get stuck properly, mostly due to driver error, in not having enough momentum etc. We were driving a manual and it was a lot more difficult changing gears and ensuring that you had the momentum needed.
However after some trial and error we discovered 4L coupled with pulling off in 2nd gear, straight into 3rd, which was the go to gear for manual, did the trick. We negotiated some hugely tricky dunes of various heights and difficulty. When drivers in the front stopped on hills, those in the back invariably got stuck, so in the desert be mindful of those behind you.
A highlight was a huge bowl which required pin point driving in each others tracks at breakneck speed, to allow yourself to get up the other side, which must have been 150m or more, turn around and do the same coming back…rollercoaster stuff.
What you need in these exercises is a good team of instructors, and the team from Driving Dynamics did a sterling job. We had some instructors from a local firm who did a fair job as well. The Isuzu is a bakkie in my opinion that is placed firmly in the top three in SA, and it is comfortable, highly capable and looks good too. For a lesson in 4×4 driving, or to top up your skill set, contact the guys at Driving Dynamics, run by Grant McLeery.