Port Elizabeth - The seven-seater Mu-X SUV, released in South Africa this week, is the first model to be launched by newly-formed Isuzu SA and the first SUV from this maker seen locally since the demise of the Frontier.
Isuzu's challenger to the Toyota Fortuner and Ford's Everest may be new here, but it’s an established model, launched in Thailand in 2013. The Mu-X was originally developed, pre-divorce, alongside the Chevrolet Trailblazer, with which it shares its platform and bodyshell, but with its own external panels and styling, and more importantly, its own drivetrain.
Where the Bowtie version had a 2.8-litre oil-burner, the Mu-X boasts a three-litre intercooled turbodiesel four, rated at 130kW and 380Nm, driving either the rear wheels, or all four, via a six-speed automatic transmission with sequential sport mode, giving it a three-ton towing capacity.
The all-wheel drive derivative has Isuzu’s familiar Terrain Command set-up, with electrically selected two and four-wheel drive modes, as well as low-range 4x4 mode for serious beetle-crushing. Both models run 18 inch alloys on independent suspension all round, with a five-link set-up at the rear for maximum articulation with minimum body roll.
Self-levelling Bi-LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, LED tail-light clusters, privacy glass and aluminium side-steps are standard kit across the range, as are dual-zone climate control, and flat-folding second and third-row seats.