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The younger generation may picture Isuzu as a maker of tough and powerful trucks and light commercial vehicles—beasts that seemingly get more attractive the longer they run and the more they get dirty. Isuzu’s worldwide reputation as the authority in diesel engineering reinforces this image, as well as the Japanese automaker’s singular effort since the 1980s to design and engineer its own unique brand of sport utility vehicles.

Not many may be aware, though, that prior to its focus on CVs, Isuzu also produced passenger cars. In fact, it built some pretty-looking Italian-designed coupes along with its contract as a maker of small cars for General Motors’ American operations.

Back then, its first passenger car to leave a mark was the comely 117 coupe, styled by the then Ghia chief designer, Giorgetto Giugiaro.

By the 1990s, however, Isuzu decided to leave behind its cars in favor of CV and SUV production.
Fast forward some three decades, and now, Isuzu comes up with an all-new iteration of its 7-seater SUV the Mu-X. From all angles it still fits the parameters of a true-blue SUV, but when you get down to the details, you’ll soon realize that the new Mu-X is, in a way, “mutating” into a sophisticated piece of machinery, with in-vehicle technologies once reserved for sophisticated cars.

As soon as Isuzu Philippines Corp (IPC) launched the all-new Mu-X online and gave an overview of its design, technology, and features, I immediately noticed that this vehicle was loaded in both “software” and “hardware”, to the point that IPC people themselves confirmed that the overall concept of the all-new Mu-X revolved around the theme of “Emotional and Solid”.

That may just simply mean that the all-new Isuzu Mu-X offers more than a handful in the looks, touch, and feel departments.

The look of luxury

Let’s start with the looks. The all-new Mu-X has what is called the World Cross Flow front grille that emphasizes texture and color contrasts to enhance the SUV’s powerful and sporty appearance. Then there’s the Arrow Signature Bi-LED headlamps with daytime running lights. These are on top of improvements in the aerodynamic body, which also helps reduce fuel consumption and wind noise, a stylish roof rail with increased load capacity, and wider side steps for easier entry and exit. At the back, a power tailgate marks this SUV already as a luxury vehicle.

Inside, the front and center consoles are joined seamlessly to form an elegant T-shape. The seats and stitching are more refined. The sharp slope of the instrument panel makes for an exciting interplay with the dominant cockpit features. By emphasizing the car’s width, the dashboard gives the impression of a powerful, outstretched wing.

The feel of comfort

The feel of comfort and convenience is taken several notches up with the all-new Mu-X. The 8-way adjustable driver’s power seat with lumbar support offers long-drive comfort.  The multi-function steering wheel with tilt and telescopic function offers drivers the optimum safest and most convenient driving position, and keeps their hands on the wheel even when they’re doing other things.

The improved gear lever is designed to fit comfortably in the driver’s hand for a more fun and exciting drive.
The dual zone auto-climate control allows for individual temperature adjustments, with two separated evaporator units, ensuring desirable coolness throughout the cabin.

The touch of connectivity

Isuzu has also gone all-out for connectivity in the new Mu-X. A 10.1-inch display infotainment system with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and off-line navigation system is in place, paired with an 8-speaker system with JVC Kenwood tweeters mounted onto the rear doors, for enhanced sound quality even from the back. Power outlets can be found not just at the lower dash up front but now also at the center console with a dedicated rear 220V and dual 2.4A USB charging ports to cater to on-the-go passenger needs for their smart phones or other gadgets.

The sense of safety

In order to achieve a 5-star Asean NCAP rating for the new Mu-X, Isuzuemployed “Intelligent Safety”, loading the SUV with an array of passive and active safety systems bannered by the Advanced Driver Assist System (ADAS). First introduced in the country through the new D-Max pickup, ADAS uses state-of-the-art smart duo stereo cameras and sensors that constantly monitor the driver’s immediate surroundings to spot potential dangers. The 12 ADAS functions cover pre-crash detection, rear and side assist detecting obstacles, parking aid, especially on tight spots, and post-crash recognition in cases of unforeseen accidents.
These functions are: Forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, turn assist, mis-application mitigation, adaptive cruise control, manual speed limiter, lane departure warning, automatic high beam, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, parking aid, and multi-collision brake.

Apart from these 12 active and passive safety functions, the new Mu-X offers other safety features to help drivers stay out of trouble even when the vehicle is not in motion or when they are out of the vehicle. These are: Electronic parking brake with auto brake hold; Follow Me Home, which keeps the headlamps on for 30 seconds after the engine is turned off; a welcome interior light that’s switched on when the driver approaches the SUV with the key, and; the walk-away lock, which is activated when the driver leaves the vehicle with the key.

The feel of power

Isuzu isn’t the leader in diesel engine technology for nothing. For the new Mu-X, that status is re-asserted. The new Mu-X’s beating heart is the new 4JJ3-TCX turbo engine with a 6-speed automatic transmission. This drivetrain produces 190 PS of power and 450 Nm of torque for smooth, effortless acceleration even when the SUV is fully loaded. The RZ4E-TC engine variant, on the other hand, now offers improved performance due to better exhaust emission, creating lower levels of noise and vibration as well as further increasing engine reliability and fuel economy.

The new Mu-X body itself, albeit looking bolder and more sophisticated, is now made even tougher. It has a reliable steel underbody protection and a wading depth of up to 800mm. That’s on top of already having a reinforced suspension and chassis.

The new Mu-X chassis also has larger side rails and has been reinforced through an 8-Cross Member design to not just increase torsional rigidity, but also safety for added protection in the event of a side or rear collision. Not only that, both front and rear suspensions have been redesigned to minimize body rolls when cornering, ensuring driver confidence and a more relaxed cabin experience.

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