The D-segment SUV market will get a new contender in the form of the Isuzu MU-X. It replaces the MU-7 SUV and will take on the likes of the Toyota Fortuner which is currently the leader in the D-segment in terms of volumes.
The MU-7 had arrived in India at a time when buyers were just beginning to make a demand for SUVs in that range. Now, three years later, with this demand in full swing, Isuzu is set to bring itself back in the game with a new SUV. This is the MU-X and it is positioned in the same spot as the MU-7, replacing it as their D-segment offering. This the Japanese automaker’s new, fully loaded, flagship SUV which will eventually take up the space occupied by the MU-7 globally.
Its D-segment positioning means that it is a clear rival for the mighty Toyota Fortuner which is currently not just the highest selling SUV in this part of the market but rather the highest selling vehicle even among its rivals. The MU-X has its task clearly cut out and this is how it performs against the Toyota Fortuner in terms of specs and features.
On the face of things, both are large SUVs with a good presence. Both have chrome loaded faces and slab-sided SUV silhouettes with forward sloping rooflines and of course, tall rear-ends which allow people to identify the vehicle as an SUV from afar. This then, is down to design language of both the vehicles and the Fortuner whose sharper lines manages to stand out as compared to the MU-X’s softer lines. We would have loved to suggest that the MU-X is the more discreet of the two but at 4.8-metres there is no place where this behemoth would not get noticed. It is a similar story with the Fortuner and in its case, the design and name are now a household brand.
The MU-X will be made available for the Indian market in one top-of-the-line trim level. This means it goes up against the top-of-the-line 2.8-litre 4X4 AT Fortuner. Both get multi-zone climate control, touchscreen infotainment system, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, split folding second and third rows, multiple cup holders, button start and keyless entry. The MU-X holds an ace up its sleeve in this part of the fray as it has more speakers than the Fortuner and at the same time also offers a 10-inch roof mounted rear screen for passengers in the second and third row. While this may seem like a small addition, it will allow Isuzu to cater to those who would use the vehicles with chauffeurs and spend time in the second row.
The Fortuner in this top spec trim is powered by a 2.8-litre four-cylinder diesel engine that produces 174bhp/430Nm with 4X4 and a six-speed AT. The 4X4 option gets selectable terrain options with a low range gearbox. It is a similar story with the MU-X which is offered with a 3.0-litre four-cylinder diesel that produces 175bhp/380Nm of torque. The gearbox is a five-speed AT with a low range gearbox with several terrain management options.
The Isuzu MU-X has its work clearly cut out for it if it wants to stand up to the Toyota Fortuner. Where it matters is that the MU-X has all the things needed to make it a popular option. However, the biggest challenge that Isuzu will face is Toyota’s and more importantly the Fortuner’s established brand name.