Preview: Isuzu MU-X to take on Ford Endeavour and Toyota Fortuner in India
The Japanese automobile brand Isuzu entered India in 2012 with the D-Max pick-up and the MU-7 SUV. While the D-Max targets the commercial as well as the lifestyle segment, the MU-7 competes with the likes of the Toyota Fortuner, Ford Endeavour and the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport. Presently, it is the D-Max that gets the maximum priority as Isuzu recently updated the pick-up truck with the new-generation model that gets an all-new platform, new design and an updated 2.5-litre motor. Isuzu is now planning to bring in the new-generation MU-X, the successor to the MU-7. The SUV is expected to reach showrooms by the end of this year.
The MU-7, Isuzu's flagship model, is positioned above the D-Max. Even though it offers a great deal of space and comes with a powerful 3.0-litre motor, the MU-7 has a dated design and lacks the fit and finish of its rivals. The upcoming Isuzu MU-X, however, will address these issues with a more modern design along with additional features. It shares its underpinnings with the Chevrolet Trailblazer seen in India as GM and Isuzu co-developed the platform. The Isuzu MU-X is expected to be priced between Rs 23-27 lakh.
The Isuzu MU-X looks far more premium compared to the MU-7. In fact, it resembles the Chevrolet Trailblazer to a great extent because of the use of shared parts. It's the face and back that's different. The front gets a twin-slat grill treated generously in chrome. The new front brings in a modern design as well as gives it a familiar look with the new D-Max V-Cross. The large headlights with projectors are shared with the pick-up truck. However, the MU-X gets a bolder and muscular bumper and comes with LED daytime running lamps that will feature on top-end variants. The silhouette has been redesigned completely and looks way better than that of the MU-7 with flared wheel arches and the new 16- and 17-inch alloys, depending on manual or automatic transmission variants. The ground clearance has been increased by 10mm at 230mm. To the rear, the MU-X gets a wrap-around rear windshield similar to the Trailblazer. Overall, the MU-X looks better and surely is lot appealing compared to the MU-7.
The upcoming Isuzu MU-X measures 4,825mm in length, 1,860mm in width and 1,825mm in height. This makes it shorter (by 130mm), wider (by 60mm) and taller (by 25mm) than the MU-7. The wheelbase has been reduced from 3,050mm to 2,845mm which is expected to reduce the cabin space.
Interior, features and options
The cabin layout of the MU-7 is very basic and functional and lacks appeal. Compared to its rivals in the Rs 25-30 lakh segment, the design is completely outdated. In the new MU-X, however, the cabin comes equipped with a modern layout. Here one can see the striking resemblance with the Chevrolet Trailblazer, especially when you compare the multi-function steering wheel, instrumental cluster and the dashboard design. The cabin will come equipped with features like automatic climate control, cruise control and an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system.
In terms of safety, the Isuzu MU-X will feature electronic stability control, traction control system, emergency brake assist, hill start assist, reversing camera, rear park assist sensors and engine immobilizer as standard across all variants.
Presently, the MU-7 is powered by a 3.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel motor that makes 163PS at 3,600rpm and generates 360Nm at 1,800-2,800rpm. The MU-X sold in the international market comes with a 3.0-litre motor that makes 177PS at 3,600rpm and makes 380Nm at 1,800-2,800rpm. However, Isuzu might bring in the MU-X with the same motor as the MU-7. The MU-X will be offered with a 5-speed manual and a 5-speed automatic transmission option.
Apart from the design and performance, the other reason for the MU-7 to have not done well is its steep pricing. Since the MU-7 comes in India through the CBU route, it is sold at a price of close to Rs 30 lakh. The other more premium options in this price range include the Toyota Fortuner (Rs 31.60-35.09 lakh) and the Ford Endeavour (Rs 31.58-36.99 lakh).
Earlier this year, Isuzu India opened its first manufacturing facility in Sri City in Andhra Pradesh. The company has invested Rs 3,000 crore in this plant. We believe Isuzu will use this plant to assemble the MU-X in India. This along with an updated motor from the MU-7 will help Isuzu price the MU-X in the range of Rs 23-27 lakh. If it's a CBU, then expect the price to be closer to the Endeavour and feature the newer 3.0-litre diesel.
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