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Riding on a Tiger in South Africa

By Theodore Opara

YES, this is worth sharing with you. It is an experience I had in South Africa, makers of the rugged Isuzu brand of trucks. I had earlier driven the Land Rover Discovery 4 in Johannesburg before flying down to Port Elizabeth to partake in the Isuzu pickup one ton offcamber Adventure 4X4. It was an experience to remember as the selected Nigerian journalists experienced the 4X4 capability of the Isuzu pickup.

GM South Africa has chosen to expose the Nigerian visitors to the 4X4 capability of the Isuzu pickup. It was a remarkable experience as one learns the rudiments driving a 4X4. It was as difficult as it was interesting but I can tell you the Isuzu one ton pickup had so much to give beyond its look. Don’t forget that this pickup has been tagged the tiger in Nigeria.
Perhaps, the off-road prowess of the pickup could have been responsible for the name – Tiger. But that is not the gist. The question is what should one do with his 4×4.

How do I put it to the best of use and what sets the 4X4 apart from the ordinary vehicle. The answers are simple. The 4X4 conquers terrains which ordinary vehicles can not dare. It should be at home in the mud, desert, flood, mountain, etc. But in most cases, most drivers hardly know how to overcome their off-road challenges hence they get stuck in difficult terrains, even with the 4X4 package.

These are some things to note when driving in 4X4 mode, especially the manual ones. Point number one is that you must know your vehicle by familiarising yourself with the controls. First. Your tyre pressures must be on lower pressures.

Lower pressures give better grip and traction. Remember to engage 4X4 mode on approaching difficult terrain and not when you are experiencing difficulties as it might be too late.

Drive as slowly as possible and as fast as necessary. Only use differential lock to get yourself out of trouble. Note that the differential lock if not used correctly could cause damage to your vehicle as you could get stuck. Put power to the ground as a spinning, skidding wheel has no grip.

Remember that using your clutch on a steep uphill or downhill causes freewheeling and can be dangerous. Also changing gears in the middle of difficult terrain or obstacles can be disastrous. GM South Africa has gone a step forward by setting up Isuzu Off-Road Academy which was recently accredited for 4X4 courses.

The Isuzu Off-Road Academy, in association with the African Off-Road Academy, is now certified by the South African Qualification Authority to provide 4X4 on- and off-road training to standards prescribed by the SAQA (South African Qualification Authority). The lsuzu Off-Road Academy is the first vehicle manufacturer backed 4X4 academy to achieve this status.

Three instructors from the Isuzu Off-Road Academy, Grant McCleery, Marius van Vuuren, and Fanus Kruger, are qualified to facilitate courses and train in the specific techniques required for safe and “‘effective 4X4 driving. All three are accredited with the knowledge and skills to fully utiJise the extensive capabilities of 4X4 vehicles in both on- and off-road driving conditions and to train participants in courses in those skills under the banner of the Is.uzu Off-Road Academy.

The Isuzu Off-Road Academy was launched early in 2011 with the objective of providing purchasers of Isuzu 4X4 vehicles the opportunity to fully experience the capability of these vehicles in a controlled environment and be trained in their usage in both work and recreational conditions. Courses at the Academy are offered to all Isuzu owners at a preferential rate. To-date close to 700 Isuzu owners have  completed the course.

The lsuzu OfI-Hoad Academy course includes a basic 4X4 orientation clement to acquaint drivers with their 4X4 vehicles, followed by basic driving techniques. The two-day Advanced Ofi”-Road Course incJudes more challenging driving techniques, both 011- and off-road, instruction in vehicle recovery, vehicle maintenance, and protection of the environment.

“The Tsuzu Off-Road Academy is an approved Isuzu service provider that provides an invaluable extension to the Isuzu ownership experience,” says Mlungisi Nonkonyana, lsuzu Brand Manager.

“The course allows the lsuzu owner, particularly the less experienced recreational user, the opportunity to fully realise the potential and thus enjoyment of a 4X4 vehicle for maximised satisfaction and safety in use.

“Isuzu is a key brand of General Motors South Africa with the KB entrenched in the market since its introduction in South Africa 1972 and renowned for its comfOlt, toughness, and superior off-road ability. The Isuzu Off-Road Academy operates with a fleet of the latest Extended and Double Cab lsuzu KB 4X4s for use on the course.”

The Isuzu Off-Road Academy has its base at the Gerotek Testing Facility just outside Pretoria but is geared to provide training at virtually any locaton nationally where there is a demand for training.

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