Civilised tough rider
This SUV aims to entice city slickers into the 4X4 club.
ON the move, the Isuzu mu-X Type S looks intimidating and road users seem to instinctively make way probably because of its aggressively angled headlights that loom larger in the rear-view mirror.
Although the mu-X uses the D-Max pick-up truck’s ladder platform, it aims to serve a different demographic - one that demands space, features, grunt and to a degree - refinement.
In this respect, the mu-X strives to live up to such demands with the limited edition Type S, which offers a few extra bells and whistles over the stock mu-X.
Flooring the throttle lets loose 136PS and 320Nm of torque from the 2.5-litre turbodiesel engine, allowing the vehicle to disappear quickly into the distance.
As long as the driver isn’t heavy-footed, the mu-X won’t be a guzzler from its 65-litre tank.
The five-speed automatic transmission operates smoothly in most situations to relay all the twist to the four 17-inch wheels, using all-terrain tyres.
Although a little spongy, the brakes feel direct and effective.
The suspension is robust enough to take a lot more beatings than a regular passenger car could.
The aft suspension employs a five-link suspension with coil springs and stabiliser and is compliant, allowing rear passengers to travel in relative comfort.
To enhance rear seat comfort, the 60:40 backrests can be reclined. It can also be folded almost flat to help make way for bulky items.
The last two seats will pop up from the boot’s floor when required.
They are cramped to sit in but Isuzu has tried to ensure knees and feet of passengers are not pinched.
There’s some body roll, which is attributable to the high profile all-terrain 255/65 series tyres’ side walls flexing during aggressive driving, but then again, these are not specifically road-going tyres and only exist to get the job done on both tarmac and non-tarmac surfaces.
But still, the experience is, like most pick-up trucks in the market today, car-like.
Although the steering isn’t as communicative or responsive as a car, it still isn’t a deal-breaker with the difference being some waddling and yawing when the tyres get some abuse from some aggressive steering inputs.
Even in such circumstances, the rear-end remained planted yet submissive enough to follow the front wheel’s.
In terms of power deliver, there’s going to be some roar first before the power kicks in and from then on, the 4JK1-TCX engine has no
qualms providing what the right foot is asking.
But if the driver feels that too much speed has been garnered, there’s plenty of bite from the brakes once the pedal reaches past the half-way mark.
Overall, the mu-X looks handsome on the outside.
Some convenience features, however, may grate on the nerves.
For example, the keyless entry with push-start button (Passive Entry System in Isuzu-speak) is only for the driver’s door.
Inside, ivory leather upholstery, an 8.0-inch touchscreen DVD player, piano black accents, roof DVD player and rear cabin air vents inject a level of premium-ness.
The electroluminescent e-Lumax meter panel multi-information display is large and legible, but the steering wheel is only tilt-adjustable but not telescopic.
Travelling at highway speeds, the vehicle offers the driver a high-riding position. But in confined places, it can quickly get tiring turning the steering wheel.
What the mu-X has going for it is a commanding view, a robust build quality and an extra layer of premium embellishments not usually associated with truck-based vehicles.
Practicality is also its strong suit plus the ability to accommodate seven people.
The mu-X Type S is an SUV that’s confidence-inspiring, being capable on the road and off the tarmac, which should appeal to 4X4 enthusiasts and those considering joining the club.
It’s priced at RM181,841 (on-theroad with GST and insurance with five-year unlimited mileage warranty).