Slowly but steadily Isuzu have picked up the pace in our market with their pick-up trucks however they lacked an SUV after the ageing MU-7. That is the reason why Isuzu has decided to replace the ageing model with their new age SUV known as MU-X. Will this SUV be able to take on the new age rivals, Toyota Fortuner, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and Ford Endeavour? Let us find out.
How does it look?
Yes, this SUV is stylish as the new MU-X is based on a completely new platform with new designing approach which makes it a smart looking SUV especially if compared to the dated, MU-7. Of course few of the styling elements such as projector headlamps and front grille styling are similar to the new pick-up Truck V-Cross but they surely add to the styling of this SUV. The day time running LED lamps, thick chrome bar forming twin slat front grille, sharp bumper and raised stance gives it a muscular looks which are much needed in this segment.
The side profile with the meaty wheel arches and 17-inch wheels resembles a lot to the Trailblazer since it shares its chassis with it however the wrap around design of tail lamps and big rear glass completes the SUV look. The new chassis makes this vehicle shorter in length and wider and taller than its predecessor. The reduced length also shortens the wheelbase of this SUV to 2845mm as compared to its predecessor. Overall it has got the size and presence which turns heads.
What about inside?
This whole change in appearance can also be seen inside as well where the SUV gets all new dashboard. This whole set-up is similar to the D-Max but is more plush with its piano black finish, chrome and leather seats. There is a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system in the centre console, round shaped auto climate control and overall everything looks of good quality with a tough overall fit and finish though it is not quite segment best being more on the rugged side.
The features in this SUV will include 6-way power adjustable driver seat, climate control, cooling vents for all three rows, Passive Entry & Start System (PESS), Cruise control system, DVD player with remote, 8-speaker audio system, Roof mounted 10 inch DVD entertainment monitor, dual airbags with ABS with EBD, Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control, Hill Start Assist etc.
The seats are reasonably comfy and space on the second row is good. You will like the thigh support and comfort-infact it is one of the best in terms of overall space and comfort. The third row is not bad too with easy access though you sit with the knees up position! In terms of luggage space with all three rows in place it is 235l while with 2nd and 3rd row folded flat it is 1830l- not exactly huge but decent.
What about driving?
The engine is a 3.0L, 4-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine which will churn out a peak power of 174bhp@3600rpm with a maximum torque output of 380Nm ranging between 1800-2800rpm. This engine is offered with a 5-speed automatic gearbox. However it will also get a 1.9 diesel in the future for even more competitive pricing. There is a 4x4 option as well with shift on the fly 4x4 select dial. The official mileage is 13.8 kmpl for the 4x2 model (we got 9 kmpl). Refinement is not the strength of this SUV though as you are well aware of the grumbly, massive 3.0 diesel underneath. Mashing the throttle also ellicits a loud noise as the hulk slowly picks up pace. But that is it as there is plenty to like about this monster. First of all the MU-x needs to be driven with steady throttle inputs as that brings the best out of this motor. Driven sedately at low speeds it is smooth and generally easy to drive. Do not mash the throttle instead feed in and it responds and it does get going when the torque comes into play.
We got it upto triple digits speeds with relative ease and only after 130 km/h that acceleration tails off. There is a manual mode but we did not bother, it is best to take a step back and cruise in this behemoth. Now this is a rugged ladder-frame SUV and the ride is excellent as it makes mincemeat of the potholes and caters which resemble the moon surface. In-fact it just goes over bad roads with nonchalance which is something it does better than rivals.
A caveat- the steering which gets better at high speeds, is very heavy at low speeds and makes parking tricky. Now with all SUVs of this class you are not expected to go corner hunting in this. That said roll is somewhat controlled but this is not something to be pushed hard and neither are any of its rivals.
We did indulge in some mild off-roading and the MU-X proved to be impressive here as you would expect knowing the D-Max. It has got the basics with a 220mm ground clearance and shift on the fly 4x4 select dial which you can us upto 100 kmph. It has got a pretty high approach and departure angle which means it will gobble up nearly anything you throw at it.
Prices start at Rs 22 lakh for the 4x2 AT while the 4x4 AT is Rs 2 lakh more. There is no manual option. As you can see pricing wise, while direct rivals have moved onto the 30s in terms of pricing the MU-X occupies a niche. It is for those who think the V-Cross is too raw and for those who want a rugged, massive SUV but with all the creature comforts. For the price we think it offers a good deal plus it also stands out from the crowd.
Words- Sunil Kumar Photography- Rajeev Bhendwal