Civilised tough rider

This SUV aims to en­tice city slick­ers into the 4X4 club.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Review - By JAY WONG jay@thes­tar.com.my

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).

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