Isuzu calms nannies to complete great mu-X package


Three months ago, we were perplexed to report that this fine family SUV was marred by something of an enigma. We concluded that while that concern was indeed a pity, it would also be a relatively easy task to fix.

The issue was simply that this flagship mu-X was previously blighted by an intrusive lane keeping device. And while we will always welcome any such safety measure in a car, this one was near impossible to turn off. It was also downright dangerous when you never needed it.


Safety overkill added unnecessary mu-X danger

As noted, we have no problem at all with any of that. It’s welcome and necessary safety kit in certain applications, such as an extra-long drive where concentration can begin to dwindle. So long as we can switch it off, if and when we want to.

The problem, however, was that to extinguish those mu-X nannies, you had to delve so deep into the cartainment screen, that you tended to forget that you were actually driving. That caused you to take your eyes off the road. And it would reset itself every time you restart the vehicle.

We contended that you cannot use a cell phone while driving a car by law. Worse still, should you attempt to delve deep into your smartphone to access a hidden app while at the wheel. Struggling to switch this car’s nannies off, if you were ever so lucky to find that hidden screen, was far more dangerous than making a criminal call while driving.


We asked for A button. Isuzu delivered!

All we asked, was for a simple button or switch to turn off those systems quickly, simply, and safely. If and when we did not want them. Same goes for any car that tends to make an enthusiastic driver feel an idiot.

There was always a little Steering button on the Isuzu’s wheel button. It never did much before. Within three months of our test bringing this issue up, the job was done and a new grey test mu-X delivered with a simple message. Try that Steering button now!

So, press the little button we did, as soon as we could. Hold it down for three seconds. Then, beep! A little light ignites on the dash. Hallelujah! No more meddling lane assist if you don’t want it. It defaults on, but simply press the button and its gone. Happily, instead of bullying us for our opinion, Isuzu heeded our criticism, acted on it, and solved our concern. Bravo!

One tiny change. One giant leap forward

Best of all, that tiny little change has now fully transformed the mu-X into every bit of the bargain family SUV it always promised to be. Based on the latest D-Max bakkie, we enjoy its large, solid Japanese feel. A China doll grille yields to strong character lined flanks punctuated by smart 20-inch alloys.

The doors click open, and thud firmly closed. Built from the ground up as a seven seater, and like most of them, mu-X has a third row in case you must carry more small people, or big people for short distances. The rearmost pews also stow into the floor to make a mammoth boot accessed by a height adjustable tailgate.

The ambient lit dual zone climate controlled cabin features responsive steering wheel and touch controlled 9-inch infotainment with CarPlay, Auto, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and eight-speaker audio. There’s an off-centre low resolution rear-view camera too. It may be a bit too plasticky inside and fit and finish is shoddy in places. Build quality could be better.


Latest Isuzu 3 litre turbodiesel pioneer

Moving under the bonnet, this creamy latest 140 kW 450 Nm 3 litre incarnation of its eternal and pioneering four-pot turbodiesel is mated to the best Isuzu 6 gear auto gearbox we’ve driven. Quiet, smooth, and effortless, mu-X is easy to drive.

It pulls strong from low down the rev range with no undue gear shifting. The transmission tends toward its higher cogs as it should. Shift paddles allow you to override the auto patterns if you so desire, even if the fuzzy logic auto box soon learns how you prefer to drive.

Mu-X also rides on a locally honed front and rear suspension design. New springs and roll bars reduce body roll and road holding is good for a vehicle this size both on and off the road. Mu-X also matches its rivals’ 3.5-ton braked trailer capacity.

20 grand off Fortuner, 70 cheaper than Everest

Add sharp brakes, traction control, and a 5-star ANCAP safety rating including a world first centre airbag between the driver and the front passenger. The mu-X also has top backup throughout Southern Africa. Never mind, it’s priced twenty grand this side of the top Fortuner and 70K off the four-pot Everest.

We said all along that all the top mu-X needed, was to simply free up some driver assistance aspects, should we happen not to want them on. Now Isuzu’s now done that, quickly and efficiently.

We’d highly recommend that you do not ignore this high value, highly all-round capable mu-X, if you’re shopping for a Fortuner, Everest, or similar family SUV. And once again, bravo Isuzu! If you take our input this seriously, that’s ample proof how serious you are about customer service too… – Michele Lupini

Images & testing: Giordano Lupini

ROAD TESTED: Isuzu mu-X 3.0TD Onyx 4x4
Engine: 140 kW 450 Nm 3-litre turbodiesel H4
Drive: 6-speed automatic 4x4
Max Braked Trailer 3,500 kg
0-60 km/h:        4.04 sec
0-100 km/h:       10.15 sec
0-120 km/h:       14.45 sec
0-160 km/h:       31.14 sec
400m:             17.0 sec @ 130 km/h
80-120 km/h:      7.72 sec
120-160 km/h:     16.09 sec
VMax:             190 km/h
Fuel:             7.6 l/100 km
CO2:              200 g/km
Range:            1050 km
Warranty/Service: 5y 120K/5y 90K km
LIST PRICE:       R928K
RATED:            8
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