DOUG KEMSLEY ON WHEELS (2)

DON’T mu-X WITH ME

We well know Isuzu’s for their tough pick-ups and commercial vehicles, but there is more to this Japanese giant than just that and when its latest SUV model, the mu-X, came along, we knew it would not be just another run of the mill pavement-climber.

New to the South African SUV line-up is the Isuzu mu-X, the first new sports utility model to come from Isuzu Motors South Africa. Available in two-wheel or four-wheel drive versions it matches a wide range of motoring needs.

Coming from the Isuzu stable, the mu-X was always going to have unusual characteristics and styling compared with the multitude of other SUVs.

Remember the Isuzu Trooper? Well this is no trooper, but a rather more refined sharp-shooter. It’s also the first vehicle to be launched locally under the new Isuzu Motors South Africa, Port Elizabeth, banner –  a wholly owned subsidiary of Isuzu Motors Limited, Japan.

Styling up front reminds me a bit of the Trooper, though, but that’s where it ends. Now, influencing the mu-X’s front styling are LED daytime running lights and bold Bi-LED projector headlights, while rear treatment accommodates the stylish LED rear combination lights in an appealing way.

Also eye-catching are the 18-inch alloy wheels and neat aluminium side-steps.

Although new to SA, the mu-X is not hot off the press and has been knocking around Indonesia and Australia since 2013 where, Isuzu claims, it’s the market leader.

Here it will come in 4×2 and 4×4 configuration. The all-wheel drive version has Isuzu’s hands-off Terrain Command 4×4 system with electronically selected two and four-wheel drive, high-range modes, or 4×4 low-range for the rugged work.

Both models are powered by a 3-litre, four-cylinder, intercooled turbodiesel engine with a handy 380Nm of torque. I like the four-cylinder route Isuzu has gone as there is no substitute for beefy, big pistons if you want oodles of off-road grunt.

At the heart of the mu-X’s performance is a six-speed automatic gearbox which also has a sequential sport mode.

This seven-seater offers leather trim inside and the folding rear and centre rows of seats give one the flexibility to either ‘pack ‘em in’ or load items for an outdoor adventure. The driver enjoys six-way electric adjustment and a leather-clad steering wheel.

This is no driverless machine as it tempts you to take the wheel and give it a real fling. But the 4×4 version does have, in the way of driver aids, ABS, Emergency Brake Assist, Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control, Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control which can be engaged in low-range 4×4 mode. A rear-facing camera aids reversing and parking via a nine-inch full colour display. Phew!

Bored passengers are a thing of the past as you get a colour touchscreen display for multi-function infotainment, accessing the GPS, DVD, and MP3-compatible CD player, Bluetooth connectivity and audio streaming as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. Front and rear USB slots are provided, in conjunction with an auxiliary iPod input and HDMI port.

In terms of practicality, I also liked the multitude of storage binnacles you find throughout vehicle’s cabin.

Isuzu claims an average fuel consumption for the mu-X of 7,9 litres/100 km and offers a five-year or 90 000km service plan as back-up.

The two-wheel drive version costs R568 000 and the 4×4, R629 100.

Look out for the upcoming road test in ON WHEELS, as we put the mu-X through her paces in our test programme, shortly.

By Doug Kemsley

 

 

 

 

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