By Otsile Kadiege
A car launch with glitz, glam, VIP treatment and show stopping moments is somewhat of a regular feature when car manufacturers launch one of their best-selling and/or highly anticipated vehicles. We were treated to such when we recently attended the launch of the second-generation Isuzu mu-X.
The newcomer replaces the first iteration, which has been on sale globally since late 2013. The new mu-X boasts a bold new exterior design, a larger more refined interior with the latest gizmos, a host of safety features and a reworked diesel engine.
As mentioned above, the new mu-X features a bold, new and attractive design thanks to its aggressive-looking grille, angular bi-LED headlights, signature side profile line and an elegant rear-end with new LED taillights. There are eight different colours to choose from. These includes Red Spinel, Santos Brown, and Sapphire Blue, to name a few.
Eye catching exterior design
Depending on the chosen grade (LS, LSE or Onyx), the new mu-X comes fitted with a set of standard 17-inch alloy wheels. A step up the ladder gets you grey coated 18-inch or stylish bi-colour 20-inch alloy wheels, respectively.
Modern and practical interior
Inside, the new mu-X features an elegant and much improved interior. The cabin oozes premium, however, there are a few scratchy plastics. Depending on the grade, the new mu-X is fitted with either a 7-inch or 9-inch touchscreen with a no-frills Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatible infotainment system which looks a bit dim for our liking.
There are ample storage compartments, USB ports, an AC 220V power outlet, a roomy second row with reclining seats, an easy to access third row seats and an impressive luggage capacity which is easily accessible thanks to a height adjustable powered tailgate.
New safety systems
The top-spec mu-X Onyx grade comes equipped with Isuzu’s Intelligent Driver Assistance System (IDAS). This suite features passive and active safety systems which, according to the automaker, continuously monitors driving conditions and act autonomously to avoid a crash or minimise accident damage. The IDAS enabled the range-topping mu-X to score a five-star ANCAP rating. The LSE and LS grades safety are yet to be rated however, Isuzu is confident the models will fare well.
Underneath the sculpted bonnet of the new mu-X lies the tried and tested 3.0-litre diesel 4JJ3 engine which has been redesigned by Isuzu’s engineering boffins to be more refined, deliver more power and torque (140 kW / 450 Nm), and importantly, return decent fuel economy. The engine is only available with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
On the nearly perfect roads of George and surrounding areas, the new mu-X’s cabin felt noticeably quieter and comfortable thanks to a refined diesel engine, a newly designed chassis and supportive 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat in the LSE and Onyx grades.
Power and torque delivery is there when required and the transmission is without flaws in town and on highways, however while tackling tarred mountain passes it begged for additional gears as it downshifted to lower gears at higher rpms. In built up areas, the safety lane keep assist is a tad too sensitive for our liking.
Back to the off-road terrain, new 4×4 mu-X displayed its prowess once we hit the gravel roads leading to demanding mountain passes like the Swartberg Pass. It proved to be extremely capable and comfy despite riding on 20-inch wheels (265/50/R20).
The new Isuzu mu-X has been greatly improved over its predecessor. It does everything a modern, bakkie-based 7-seater SUV needs to do, it drives well, it’s comfortable, spacious, capable off-road, packed with a lot of convenience features and fairly well priced. That said, its aging competitors still have a few cards up their sleeves, including market share, and the mu-X has its work cut out for itself.
The pricing and model line-up for the new mu-X is as follows:
> 3.0 Ddi mu-X 4×2 LS A/T Price: R 693,800;
> 3.0 Ddi mu-X 4×4 LS A/T Price: R771,600;
> 3.0 Ddi mu-X 4×2 LSE A/T Price: R 763,300; and
> 3.0 Ddi mu-X 4×4 ONYX A/T Price: R 860,500.
All models include a 5-year/120,000 km service plan and are covered by the Isuzu Complete Care Package with a warranty of a 5 year/90,000 km warranty and a 5-year unlimited km anti-corrosion warranty.
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