MU-X is a sweet come­back for Isuzu

Zululand Observer - Weekender - - ZO MOTORING - Val van der Walt

Isuzu re­cently launched the MU-X in SA. How does this bakkie-based SUV com­pare against oth­ers?

I drove one of Pro­vin­cial Mo­tors’ demo ve­hi­cles to see for my­self what this new­comer has to of­fer, what its strong points are and where it falls short.

Com­fort Tough seg­ment

Isuzu, 30-odd years ago, was the first man­u­fac­turer in SA to of­fer an SUV based on a bakkie.

Re­mem­ber the Fron­tier?

It was very pop­u­lar and racked up de­cent sales fig­ures for the brand, but then Gen­eral Mo­tors went and bug­gered things up, and since then Toy­ota brought out the For­tuner and has been smil­ing all the way to the bank.

Ford only re­cently man­aged to dish it­self a de­cent slice of the body-on­chas­sis SUV pie with the lat­est gen­er­a­tion Ever­est, but it still doesn’t sell nearly as well as the Toy­ota.

Mit­subishi, of course, also com­petes in this cat­e­gory with the Pa­jero Sport, but sales num­bers are ag­o­nis­ingly low de­spite it be­ing a very good ve­hi­cle.

Tak­ing all this into con­sid­er­a­tion, mov­ing MU-X metal is go­ing to be a se­ri­ous job for Isuzu, but there’s hope be­cause in its third month on sale, it’s al­ready out­selling the Mit­subishi.

I was pleas­antly sur­prised with the MUX’s cabin be­cause the qual­ity, fit and lay­out are good.

The black leather seats are firm, yet com­fort­able and sport neat, con­trast­ing white stitch­ing.

Isuzu did a great job in cre­at­ing a cap­sule which is user friendly for both driver and pas­sen­gers.

For the driver, con­trols are ac­ces­si­ble and easy to op­er­ate, and for those with him or her, there’s a large num­ber of odd­ments stor­age spa­ces, in­clud­ing two glove com­part­ments.

Sec­ond row pas­sen­gers get their own USB port and ven­ti­la­tion out­lets.

Space in row two is ad­e­quate for three adults and right at the back, as in all seven seaters, two chil­dren will fit com­fort­ably.

In­side, the only is­sue I have is the mattsil­ver trim­ming on the steer­ing and gear lever, be­cause over time these will surely get scratched.

Isuzu only of­fers the MU-X with the brand’s tried-and-tested 3.0-litre tur­bod­iesel plant.

In the SUV this unit de­liv­ers 130kW at 3 600rpm and 380Nm be­tween 1 800 and 2 800rpm.

Re­laxed drive

Driv­ing around town and on the open road, I got the feel­ing that the MU-X’s en­gine is al­ways re­laxed and, no mat­ter what you do with the throt­tle, runs easy.

The six-speed au­to­matic gear­box is very smooth, but al­most felt as though it’s hold­ing the en­gine back a bit with its lazy, easy go­ing shifts.

I like the sus­pen­sion set-up be­cause in the MU-X I ex­pe­ri­enced less body roll and nose dip­ping at stops com­pared to other SUVs in this class.

Off the road the MU-X re­ally im­pressed me, the 3.0-litre en­gine never ask­ing for a lot of revs to ne­go­ti­ate ob­sta­cles.

It just idled through ev­ery­thing, how­ever a diff-lock would have been wel­come.

On the safety front the MU-X pack­age is com­pre­hen­sive, with ABS/EBD, sta­bil­ity con­trol, hill-de­scent and hill-start as­sist con­trol sys­tems fea­tured as stan­dard in ad­di­tion to six airbags.

The in­fo­tain­ment screen also dou­bles as dis­play for the rear-view cam­era.

A fea­ture that isn’t in­cluded is trail­er­sway con­trol, which would’ve come in handy see­ing that the SUV has a 3 000kg (braked) tow rat­ing.

Ver­dict

Isuzu’s MU-X is right up there with the seg­ment lead­ers and in no way an in­fe­rior prod­uct.

The re­laxed 3.0-litre turbo-diesel, es­pe­cially, makes the MU-X stand out be­cause it never asks to be pushed hard.

One re­ally gets the feel­ing that this ‘un­stressed’ en­gine will keep on run­ning for­ever.

The cabin has a car-like feel to it with a stylish look and durable, qual­ity trim al­most right through.

Given its at­trac­tive mix of fea­tures (par­tic­u­larly on the in­fo­tain­ment side) and at­trac­tive pric­ing/war­ranty, the Isuzu MU-X def­i­nitely be­longs on your short­list when in the mar­ket for a bakkiebased seven-seater SUV.

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