HERITAGE / Retracing our Defender heritage
Cruising along on the highway I found the ride to be surprisingly compliant. One would typically approach the car expecting it to ride like the bakkies that it is based on but this is not the case. Unlike a bakkie, it uses coil over springs and dampers in the rear instead of leaf springs, making the ride relatively smooth and not bouncy at all.
The last 45 minutes of our journey from the N3 to our destination were on some pretty mountainous roads. Regardless, the mu-X chugged up the hills like a freight train without breaking a sweat. The six-speed automatic gearbox proved well suited to this engine. It knew when to downshift, when to hold gear and when to shift up once we cleared the hill. I have been in cars that hopelessly hunt for the right gear once you hit a hill and so this impressed me. Quite often I found myself glancing at the rear-view mirrors to make sure that the trailer was still hitched to the car because the way the car was pulling up the hill felt unburdened. This should not have been a surprise though because this vehicle can tow a good three tonnes. We eventually arrived at Montusi Mountain Lodge where we were taken through standard Covid inspection procedures before being ushered to our chalet where we spent the night, with the engine of the mu-X ticking somewhere in the parking lot as it cooled down in the night air.
The rising sun revealed to us just how much we had missed out on the night drive up to the lodge. Montusi Mountain Lodge is positioned deep within nature, overlooking some breath-taking views and scenery. Being perched up in the hills also meant that there were nice areas to take the mu-X offroading. After a hearty breakfast we then went for a drive up a mountain trail to test its off-roading capabilities. 230 mm of ground clearance and a steel plate protecting the underside of the front, adds to driver confidence and I happily manhandled it up and down a narrow trail route. The descent was especially frightening for the kids but the hill descent control system came into its own, cleverly managing the hefty 2.6 tonnes of the car.
When we returned to the lodge, I was pleasantly treated to a full tank because someone at Montusi Mountain Lodge had the genius idea of installing fuel tanks for the guests to use. After all, the lodge is in the middle of nowhere. Combining that with the excellent service, the beautiful location and just the tranquillity of being away from the city makes this lodge a highly recommendable holiday spot.
I have to say that I was impressed by the mu-X. In recent years the SUV market has become saturated with a tonne of options making the agony of choice all the more gruelling. It really comes down to pedigree when making a choice. And what brand has built its name on reliability better than Isuzu? Their tagline “With you for the long run” underscores that trademark reliability. Then you add on Isuzu’s five-year/120,000 km warranty and road assistance package and you have yourself a good deal. There is a new mu-X on the horizon but we don’t know yet how it is going to look or what it is going to be like. If you are patient enough you could wait, but if you are pressed for time and urgently need a do-it-all family car then I would suggest you give the mu-X a look. I would literally trade in my Chevy Trailblazer for the mu-X at a moment’s notice if I had about R712,200 lying around.