Joel Helmes reviews the new Isuzu MU-X at its global launch.
Australian car buyers now have what looks to be a genuinely good new seven-seat SUV option – the Isuzu MU-X (pronounced “Mew-X”).
Just launched globally in Thailand (where the MU-X will be built), the new model will arrive on Australian shores next month and should start at just under $40,000 (Isuzu executives hinted at a special introductory pricing campaign).
So what’s it like? Well it may look a bit like the rather disappointing Holden Colorado7 but from the time I spent in it I must say I was impressed.
Both vehicles shared some common initial development; however a later parting of the ways of General Motors and Isuzu means the two seven-seaters really don’t have a lot in common.
Available in 2WD and 4WD configurations the MU-X will come with just the one engine on offer – a 3.0 litre turbo diesel that produces 130kW and 380Nm.
The time I spent in the new offering both on and off road (albeit at Bridgestone Tyres Thai testing track) I thought the power and acceleration delivered from the engine was more than adequate.
It’s also an impressively quiet engine and this, along with a more refined and generally nicer feel inside than the Colorado7, show this a superior product.
Just on the engine, Isuzu executives were quite happy to boast that they expected the diesel power plant used in the MU-X to deliver a life of 500,000 kilometres!
Fuel consumption is quoted at as little as 8.2L/100km combined and buyers get the choice of either five-speed manual or automatic transmissions.
Something else that impressed me was the ride. The Isuzu product comes with a coil spring/five-link rear-axle set-up that really does deliver a nice mix of comfort, off-road ability and handling.
There is a little bit of body roll when pushed in the corners and it does tend to nose dive a touch under heavy braking, but overall it’s a really good set-up.
One thing to take note of if you are considering a MU-X is that the base-model (LS-M) comes with all-terrain tyres (i.e. tyres more suited to off-road driving), while the other two models (LS-U and LS-T) are fitted with Highway Terrain rated rubber.
The new Isuzu also didn’t display that soft and spongy brake pedal feel that I’ve noticed on the Holden Colorado. I was also pleased to observe that on punishing surfaces there was not a rattle or creak from any part of the interior.
Speaking of the cabin there are plenty of handy storage areas, though the two glove boxes are a touch on the small side, legroom front and back is good without being great and the third-row of seats can quite easily accommodate two adults.
Comfort levels are improved in the mid and top spec models with the addition of rear roof-mounted air-conditioning vents, the base model obviously misses out. A 10” roof-mounted DVD screen is also standard on the flagship model.
The gauges are clear and easy to read and the driver display screen is also quite functional, albeit the design is a touch dated.
Like the Colorado7 the third-row of seats doesn’t fold into the floor but Isuzu has done a better job of hiding this with the inclusion of a storage area behind the seats and this certainly helps complete the cargo area.
As yet there isn’t an ANCAP rating for the new model but Isuzu bosses were confident their new offering would achieve a five-star grading.
Overall I have to say I was really very impressed. The build-quality looks tremendous; the design is really nice, it has an impressive engine, gearbox and suspension set-up.
With sharp pricing and Isuzu’s continued efforts to provide great after-sales service I can’t help but think it’s going to find plenty of happy Australian owners.
NUTS and BOLTS
Engine: 3.0 litre turbo diesel producing 130kW and 380Nm
Transmission: Five-speed auto or manual
Safety: Five stars
Price: From $40,500.