Driven

Isuzu MU-X review

Isuzu_mu-X_going_sideways
Is it a worthy rival to the Ford Endeavour and Toyota Fortuner?

Isuzu’s strategy in India has always been a safe one. The Japanese manufacturer is known for its pick-ups and pick-up based SUVs for their reliability and comfort, but when the company launched their vehicles here, they were relatively dated. Gauging the market with tried and tested products helped Isuzu build a reputation for itself and soon after manufacturing started, the impressive D-Max V-Cross pick-up was introduced. Enthusiasts have lapped this car up and that has given the manufacturer a lot of confidence for future products in the country. The follow up is the SUV you see in these pages, the mu-X.

Isuzu has had the mu-X in its arsenal since 2013, about the time when the aging mu-7 was launched in India, and to our surprise, it didn’t get all-wheel drive. A big and heavy SUV to take on the Endeavour and the Fortuner, the mu-7 didn’t stand a chance. What it did is offered something different, something with presence and something that established the premium card Isuzu was yet to play with the mu-X. Now it’s successor is here and is much better equipped than the mu-7. Is it a worthy competitor though?

What else?

If you have been behind the wheel of the V-Cross, then you will notice that the interiors of the mu-X are somewhat similar. Like the exterior, the cabin sports a simple design. Various shades of grey and different textures find space on the mu-X’s dashboard. What is missing though, is the soft-touch materials that we have gotten used to in the cabins of competing products. The centre console houses the circular AC pods. There is a 7-inch infotainment system, a multi-functional digital display, start/stop button and a 6-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat. The addition here is a roof mounted 10-inch entertainment monitor with roof mounted speakers. It seats seven and quite comfortably in the first two rows, but the last row is cramped and will only be ideal for short trips.

King of the segment

In the Indian SUV market, the Fortuner owns the space, and the new Endeavour is doing fairly well too so to get on top is going to be a herculean task for a company with 29 dealerships compared to Toyota’s 306 sales outlets and Ford’s 458 dealerships. So Isuzu isn’t going to be competing with these SUVs head-on. To make a mark, the mu-X is cleverly slotted at a much lower price point than its rivals.

 Does it have presence?

You pay between Rs 5-6 lakh lesser than the Ford and the Toyota and for that, you also let go off a fair bit of premiumness – hard plastics, fit and finish and a few features. The mu-X is all about its macho appeal and reliable engine though. It looks like a cross between the Chevrolet Trailblazer and the V-Cross but unlike the former that will no longer be sold after GM‘s exit from India and the latter, which is a pick-up truck, the mu-X is a more conventional take on the SUV. In fact Isuzu engineers and designers have endowed the SUV with very nice proportions and dimensions. It doesn’t look as bulky and ungainly as the Chevy yet has massive presence. The mu-X like its predecessor eats up the view in rear view mirrors so expect a lot of respect on streets.


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