George – The second-generation Isuzu MU-X has been highly anticipated in South Africa since the vehicle’s international launch. Taking cues from the Isuzu D-Max, which will be launched in April 2022, the bakkie-based SUV sees some important changes across the criteria as it attempts to capture a greater share of the D-SUV market.
From a design perspective, the Isuzu MU-X shows off a bolder look with lines that run from the front end to the rear end. The arrow-shaped Bi-LED headlamps with Daytime Running Lights now give the facia a meaner look. The new MU-X badging and LED taillamps assist in the Japanese manufacturer’s attempts to shed its “commercial” stigma.
Every occupant of the cabin has been well-thought out when it comes to the design of the cabin. A 915 mm increase also makes all three rows larger and roomier, while convenience has been given top priority. The new MU-X includes six power outlets, 12V sockets, 220V power socket and 12 cupholders among its key convenience features. Those who choose the LSE or top-of-the-range Onyx get eight-way power adjustable faux leather seats with elegant stitching, a 9,0-inch infotainment system with wireless phone mirroring, as well as a wealth of safety features.
Power and Drive
All three trim levels are equipped with the same 3,0 litre turbodiesel engine, which is now rated at 140 kW and 450 N.m of torque (up 10 kW and 70 N.m) paired to a six-speed automatic transmission.
The base model LS is offered in both 4×2 and 4×4 while the mid-level LSE will only be available in 4×2 and the top-of-the-line Onyx will only be available in 4×4. The new model has improved drive characteristics over its predecessor. The body-on-frame chassis has been redesigned for increased strength and safety while the front suspension has also been adjusted to reduce body roll. We noticed the difference as we drove over the Outeniqua pass on our way to George International Airport.
Among the major differences, we noticed how refined and quieter the reworked 4JJ3 engine was. A huge improvement has been made in fuel consumption and the engine does not sound as agricultural as before. We achieved 8,9 L/100 km during our time at Isuzu during our tenure, compared with Isuzu’s claim of 7,6 L/100 km. In addition to being quieter, the cabin feels much more secure, with little noise from either road or wind coming through it.
The Isuzu MU-X 4×4 has upped the ante in terms of off-road ability as well, with improved ground clearance, approach and departure angles, a stronger driveline and a rear differential lock instead of a limited slip differential. Our unit handled the treacherous Louvain Guest farm 4×4 terrain with ease.
In contrast, we were quite disappointed in the steering wheel’s lightweight feel. It’s great for low-speed city driving but lacks the precision of an SUV and feels unsteady at higher speeds.
Isuzu has made safety a priority, all MU-X models come with eight airbags, including a centre airbag (first in class) which is deployed from the left side of the driver’s seat to prevent head banging between passengers.
The range topping Onyx model also receives the latest IDAS (Isuzu’s Intelligent Driver Assistance System) which is a bundle of active and passive safety system; autonomous emergency brake, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, lane keep assist and driver monitoring just to name a few.
According to Isuzu, the top-of-the-line Onyx model receives a five-star ANCAP rating, while the LS and LSE models receive a three-star rating.
Overall, the Isuzu MU-X looks and feels up to par with its segment rivals. It stands out and has become bolder. Pricing might be slightly higher than its segment rivals however this is because it is slightly better tech laden and has the biggest engine displacement. The increased dimensions has helped improved in ride quality as well as off-road capabilities. The generous spec on all models is also a huge bonus for buyers and we think that the second generation mu-X will do better than the first generation.
Written by Kumbi Mtshakazi
Price: R860 500
Engine: 3,0-litre, four-cylinder, turbodiesel
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Power: 140 kW @ 3 600 r/min
Torque: 450 N.m @ 1 600 – 2 600 r/min
0-100 km/h: N/A
Top speed: N/A
Fuel consumption: 7,6l/100 km
CO2: 154 g/km
Service plan: Five-year/90 000 km