Isuzu MU-7 review, test drive

    The MU-7 is Isuzu’s first product under its own badge. Will this massive SUV make a name for the latest entrant to the Indian market?

    Published on Apr 26, 2013 08:47:00 PM


    There’s acres of space on the inside and Isuzu has worked on the cabin to make it passenger friendly and luxurious, something that was lacking in the old MU-7 (available in international markets). But overall quality is a mixed bag – there are some parts that are well finished and look upmarket, but at the same time there are bits that feel cheap to touch and are plasticky. It’s got touches of piano-black faux wood trim on the armrests, dashboard and door handles, which is nice. The leather seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and the gearlever look and feel rich, and the red stitching gives it that upmarket feel. The dash follows the standard T-shaped layout, with the AC vents on the top and a Kenwood touchscreen multimedia system in the middle (similar to the one in the Rexton), which also doubles up as the reversing camera monitor. GPS is not offered as standard but as an option. The steering wheel feels nice to hold, but could have done with steering mounted controls, and the stalks, vents and air-con dials have an air of quality about them.

    In the MU-7, you sit lower than in a Fortuner, and the driving position is reminiscent of the Endeavour. However, the seats are more comfortable than the Ford’s and the extra padding they have gives you more thigh support. You get a good view out thanks to the slim pillars and the huge glass area, and the tall gearlever is an easy reach no matter what your chosen seat position is. The middle row has acres of legroom and, even here, the seats are a tad more comfy than the Endeavour’s, thanks to the generous cushioning. Still, it’s nowhere near as comfortable as a Fortuner. That said, seating three abreast isn’t a squeeze at all and there’s two separate AC vents embedded in the scooped-out roof, with the dial to control the rear air-con placed between them. Additionally, there’s a roof-mounted DVD player screen in the second row, which is a feature that should appeal to the chauffeur driven. There’s also a handy flip-down cupholder on the door that can be tucked away when not needed. The door pockets on all four doors are quite slim though. A practical feature is the sliding middle row that has generous travel and allows you to adjust kneeroom for the third row.

    The third row is easily accessed by tugging a strap on the middle row seat, which causes it to flip down and slide forward. The third row is best for kids, though, as you have to sit on the low seat in a knees-up position – typical of a high-floor pick-up truck chassis. Tall people will complain of a lack of headroom here, though there’s plenty of kneeroom, even with the middle row slid all the way back. You also get two separate vents in the third row. Even with all rows up, there’s a decent amount of boot space, and with the third row folded, there’s more still.

    What is missing though is some equipment. The MU-7 doesn’t have powered seats or climate control, although the touchscreen system and (very necessary) reversing camera are welcome touches. It also gets ABS with EBD, two airbags, remote locking, a trip computer, electric mirrors and projector headlamps.

    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 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 vigour. In traffic, this engine works well and responds to taps on the throttle with convincing urge – a byproduct of the rather short gearing; first gear maxes out at an indicated 40kph, second at around 60kph. This short gearing helps the MU-7 overcome its 1900kg kerb weight and hit 100kph in a quick 11.7sec. Grouses come in the form of the slightly mushy gearshift quality and a clutch that’s just a wee bit heavy. Also, the engine is quite audible at all times. It’s not as refined as the Rexton and gets especially vocal when you’re revving it.

    Isuzu Cars

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