The last time we heard of ‘Isuzu’, was when their engine made its debut in the legendary HM Ambassador. And now, they’re back – to tackle the SUV segment with their latest offering – the MU-7. Will it deliver? We take the behemoth to the beach to find out!
Text: Shamnas M.S Photography: Shameer Asif M E
We people are very much concerned about a crazy little factor called “SIZE”. Size matters for all. Everyone’s concerned about their own size as well as others; especially when it comes to structures. For instance, we boys would like to be built like a stalwart – with the short ones aiming to get a physique like Aamir Khan, while the macho guys aim to become like The Rock. But reality hurts for most of the people when they realize building up ain’t no cakewalk. When it comes to girls/ladies, recently Katrina (AKA Bebo) tuned herself to size zero. Well, if you ask me, I don’t like slim girls. But hey, this stuff is subjective. I like my girl chubby. Definitely not overly plump, of course. Each individual guy has his own obsession towards girls/cars or whatever. And the same can be said about the obsession for size when it comes to the macho looks of an SUV. If you are in love with an SUV, then undoubtedly it must be a macho looking one. Not only is it big, but capable enough to get all those heads turning on the road. The Isuzu MU-7 is certainly my kinda car. I would rather call it a beast in the way it looks. No it’s not a Cadillac Escalade, but those who have seen the Escalade somewhere over the internet or in reality, might be in for a bit of a puzzle.
To escape from the city traffic of Chennai, we planned for an early start. In fact Chennai looks so beautiful early in the morning; especially the Marina. We drove straight to the Marina beach to click a few nice shots. Also, I wanted to check whether this SUV is capable enough to turn heads. And it so happened that all the joggers came closer and gazed at the car. Step inside the MU-7, and a beautiful, luxurious cabin greets you. The steering wheel is as big as my pet’s dinner plate. It endows like an all-black color theme inside. The seat fabrics, leather and plastic inside get blacked out too. Its leather wrapped steering wheel, gear knob and door trims give it an uplifting ambience from the inside. Thanks to the extended length of the MU-7, it offers the best-in-class comfort – be it for the second row or third row occupants, there will be no issues as far as head, shoulder and knee room go.
As mentioned earlier, the sheer size and looks is where this SUV scores best. The front end of the car boasts of a three-layered bumper grille with an integrated air dam which gets a chrome finish. Its full size headlights also complement the bulky appearance of this SUV, while its circular fog lights rest in its front bumper. Move to the side of MU-7, and then you will come to know about the actual length of it. It’s even taller and longer than the Toyota Fortuner. The six-spoke split alloy wheels and chromed door handles and side mirrors add a premium touch to this SUV. The towering, bulgy wheel arches and side steps give it a macho character. The rear styling is quite simple yet attractive; it has an integrated spoiler and roof antenna too.
The MU-7 is powered by a 2999cc, direct-injection, turbocharged common-rail diesel engine. It breathes through four valves per cylinder and makes a healthy 161bhp and 36.7kgm of torque. Slot it into first, get off the clutch and you’ll find an engine that pulls well from as little as 1000rpm with little turbo lag to speak of. Power delivery is also quite linear and it pulls all the way to 4000rpm with surprising zest. It hits 100kph in a quick 11.7sec. Yes, it is faster than the Toyota Fortuner! The only thing you will feel when you hit a corner is, that there is quite a lot of body roll, typical of an SUV. Apart from the fact that this car handles well, it does the SUV job of boulder-crushing, which is to say, the suspension is sorted well enough and it’s better than the Endeavour, I’d say. And because of its sheer size, the turning circle is a massive 12.2 meters, which is on par with the Endeavour.
The MU-7 doesn’t have powered seats or climate control, although the touchscreen system and reversing camera are welcome touches. It also gets ABS with EBD, two airbags, remote locking, a trip computer, electric mirrors and projector headlamps. The Isuzu MU-7 is equipped with a company fitted audio system, coupled to 10 powerful speakers. There is also an LCD screen for rear passengers, while it also features a sub-woofer.
Based on Isuzu’s internationally popular D-Max pickup, the MU-7 is assembled here from completely knocked-down (CKD) kits at Hindustan Motors’ plant in Chennai, with plans to shift production to Isuzu’s upcoming Rs.1500-crore plant in Andhra Pradesh. It currently offers a 4×2 variant, where the power goes to the rear wheels. For an SUV of this size, it returned an amazing mileage of around 11kmpl overall.
The price is a bit steep compared to its rivals at Rs.24.16 lakhs (ex-showroom, Hyderabad) for the 4×2, manual-transmission variant of the MU-7. However this car isn’t as well equipped as its rivals. The things you would love is, the tank-like build quality, macho looks and, moreover, there is room for seven. The interiors are fresh and plush. We hope there will be a reduction in the price tag, which I think, will really help this SUV find more buyers when the production kicks off in their Indian plant. From the crowd that gathered at Marina, I could understand that no one trusts this brand like they do with Toyota. As we know, the resale value and maintenance of the Fortuner is unbeatable, which is the prime reason for its success. What Isuzu need to concentrate on is to increase their number of dealerships and service centers, which will eventually attract customers and naturally build up trust within them.
Brand Name: Isuzu
Price: Rs. 21 lakhs
Engine Type: 3.0-litre 16V VGS Turbo Diesel
City / Highway fuel economy: 8/11 kmpl
Maximum Power: 160.8bhp@3600rpm
Maximum Torque: 360Nm@1800-2800rpm
0-100kmph: 10.7 seconds
Top Speed: 175kmph
Layout: Rear wheel drive
Gear box: 5 speed manual
Length x width x height: 4955x1800x1805mm
Kerb Weight: 1900kg
Ground clearance: 210mm
Boot volume: —
Seating capacity: 7
Fuel tank: 76 litres