Once the most affordable 4X4 among its peers, Isuzu with the BS6 update, has significantly revised the price and supplied a new engine.
There are no changes to the way M-UX meets your eyes. It’s as big as before. Big, bulky, oodles of chrome on the face and a boxy rear end. Undoubtedly, it has all the elements to look as butch as its rivals. LED lights, 18-inch fully machine-cut alloys, sidestep and roof rail: Design cues are definitely appealing.
The new generation M-UX arrived some time back in global markets. Isuzu’s BS6 M-UX in India is a mere engine update on the existing model. The 4X4 and 4X2 are priced at Rs 35.19 lakh and 33.23 lakh (ex-showroom), making it almost Rs 6 lakh expensive over the replaced model. The second big change is in the engine. Before we dive into the drive, here are a few aspects I liked and wished for:
Let’s begin with things I enjoyed in the MU-X. Quilted seats, for starters, are comfy and provide decent side bolstering. The view from the driver’s seat is decent, in fact very commanding. Accommodating 6 passengers is relatively easy. The cabin is air, spacious and roomy, thanks to sufficiently large glassworks. So there is a decent amount of light and air inside the SUV.
The durability factor of every element in the cabin is really high. The dashboard design is flush, simple yet sturdy. The disappointing bit is the connectivity suite or the lack of it. The makeover of the infotainment screen and the driver’s display was badly needed to meet the new-age demands of the customers.
All these things may be overlooked until you fire the engine, which has undergone massive downsizing. M-UX uses a 1.9-litre, variable geometry, turbocharged Diesel engine which replaces the bulky 3-litre unit. The max power and peak torque have fallen to 165 PS and 360 Nm from 177 PS and 380 Nm respectively. Does it impact the outright performance of the M-UX? Not drastic in the real sense.
In lugging city traffic, the engine isn’t very responsive under 1,400 rpm. A gentle dap at the throttle and there is a grumpy noise from the engine. That said, the low-end torque is manageable and pulls cleanly to 3,000 rpm before the 6-speed automatic transmission engages gear change.
On the highways, there isn’t much of a difference. Triple digits come naturally and M-UX can sustain low distances without breaking a sweat. Mechanically, Isuzu has gone ahead with common rail technology for the oil burner and better anti-friction material to construct the cylinders.
The transmission is modest to operate, shifts lazily in its own rhythm. The gearbox doesn’t react as quickly as you would wish to in cases of kick down. The 1.9-diesel returns around 12.5 kmpl on the highways and just under 10 in city.
The steering wheel has heft and takes a fairly good amount of effort to turn at low speeds. The steering frees up weight as the speed rises and it’s easier to pilot the SUV. The wheel doesn’t circle back to the central axis at low speeds is what annoyed me while driving it in the traffic.
The biggest positive for M-UX is how comfortably it tackles the bad and broken roads as if it is out to bully them. The healthy tyres, ladder construction chassis and independent front suspension are excellent to counter moderate bumps. But we went an extra yard and enjoyed the MU-X on hilly river beds. All we did was a quick rotary switch to 4X4 from a rear-wheel drive.
Think of BS4 M-UX, the price was definitely appealing coupled with the low cost of maintenance. Should you buy the BS6 one? While the bulky feel, go-anywhere attitude is still written all over the M-UX, what fears me is the lack of creature comforts, which are in plenty in similar-specced rivals. And there is no forgetting if it’s about sheer performance, Gloster and Fortuner offer much more on paper and in real life.