The bakkie that made me ‘that guy’



I don’t want to like this car; I’m trying hard not to be “that guy”.This is made much more difficult when I get a “Cool!” from Finn, my seven-year-old, as he gets into the spaceship, the Isuzu D-MAX 300 LX 4X4. I get him to push the start button. We have lift off. Well, almost — first he needs some tunes. A couple of minutes later and he has paired my phone to the infotainment system. If he can do it, I can too, I tell myself.

Finn isn’t the only person who loves the bakkie. On day two I get a guy whose longing gaze lingers just that little bit too long. The kind of gaze that gives you the “no” feeling. “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s bakkie,” doesn’t apply to everyone it seems. I find myself developing a protective feeling, which is kinda odd, considering it’s just a computer wrapped in steel and leather and glass.

It really is difficult finding much wrong with the car — it’s a beautiful machine to drive. The six-speed automatic gearbox has smooth, easy transitions and the revs are surprisingly low when driving it comfortably. It is only when you push it really hard that it sounds and feels a little hoarse and less happy. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it is jarring when you feel it for the first time.

That said, the car is quick, surprisingly so, and if you want to hold on to a gear it has a manual shift option. Isuzu claims a fuel consumption of 7.8-litres/100km. I get closer to 9-litres.

I take the car on a road I have travelled many times before. It’s not the most scenic drive: in fact, it’s what I would call rude. It’s one of those corrugated gravel roads with the odd bit of quicksand and rocks just waiting to take your sump to heaven. The kind of road that normally leaves you needing some dental work and a visit to the chiropractor.

But the spaceship glides over the interrogation — it’s almost a little disconcerting how comfortable it is.

The suspension is really good. It doesn’t hurt that you are cocooned in a leather cockpit with some serious comfort and all the buttons and displays you would expect in a car that costs R640 000 and change.

It’s a stupid amount of money for a car, especially if you are going to be using it to take the dogs to the park, clear some garden refuse and perhaps drive on a dirt road a few times a year.

So when I find out that the lights and windscreen wipers don’t come on automatically, I become super irritated. I’m going to write a really angry letter to the manufacturer, with exclamation marks and everything.

I’m feeling guilty — I’m starting to like the car. I find myself even enjoying the convenience and ease of the automatic gearbox. Keyless entry feels so grown-up and entitled, too. I feel good driving it.

I’m becoming “that guy”. I can feel it.

It’s impossible not to drink the Kool-Aid when my own car is a 15-year-old bakkie. The only similarity between it and my drive for the week is that they are both called bakkies. My car seems old, slow, loud and uncomfortable. Annoying, really. Finn has downed the Kool-aid ages ago, all of it. There’s no coming back for him. “Why don’t you sell your car and buy this one, dad?” he asks.

Yeah, right …

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Paul Botes
Guest Author

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