MU-7, Isuzu’s first entrant in the Indian SUV market, impresses with its size and space
The SUV market in the country has a new entrant in the form of the Isuzu MU-7. Known for its heavy vehicles such as pick up trucks and SUVs, the Japanese vehicle manufacturer is targeting India’s rapidly growing SUV market with the MU-7. Takashi Kikuchi, Managing Director of Isuzu Motors India, said at the launch event in the city that the SUV market is a lucrative prospect. “Even in the current economic situation, the demand for SUVs in India is high, and it is a segment we are strong in, as evidenced by our track record in Asia and the Middle-East,” he said.
Isuzu also opened its dealership near Vytilla, which will handle sales and service of the MU-7, which is currently pegged at Rs. 22.93 lakh for the BS-4 variant (ex-showroom Kochi). Their initial plan is to establish a network in South India, with showrooms opening in Madurai, Tirupati, Vishakhapatnam and Bangalore within the next month.
The USP of the MU-7 is definitely its size. In a segment that includes the in-demand Toyota Fortuner, the Ford Endeavour and the Ssangyong Rexton, the lengthy MU-7 definitely catches the eye. While not a flamboyant style statement, it has an understated simplicity that does not offend.
The long shape is reminiscent of the previous generation Endeavour, and the prominent hood scoop, massive wheel arches and high clearance give it good presence. Takashi cites the age-old Isuzu values as the reason the MU-7 can break into a segment where the pecking order is well established, “The space afforded by the MU-7 is unmatched by other vehicles in the category and the Isuzu diesel engine is renowned for its power and fuel efficiency.”
The MU-7 has a three-litre turbo charged engine that delivers 163 horsepower and a peak torque of 360 Nm through the average 1800-2800 rpm section of the rev range, which on paper suggests more than enough performance to keep up with the other vehicles in the segment. The variant on offer is a two-wheel drive with manual transmission.
The interiors of the MU-7 are a bit of a mixed bag. The seats are comfortable leather and plush, but the rest of the instrument console and materials pursue the utilitarian vibe to the point of simplicity.
The layout of the buttons and knobs is organised, and the large screen for multimedia controls takes up most of the central console. A second screen with disc player and air conditioning controls are mounted on the roof behind the first row, giving rear passengers control over the entertainment options.
The choice of material for the wood inserts and some of the silver accents on the inside do not quite give it a luxury-vehicle vibe, but these are details most people would not mind. Steering mounted controls and electronic seat adjustments are conspicuous in their absence.
As evidenced by its size, space is not much of an issue for the MU-7. Three rows of seats are on offer, theoretically seating seven in comfort. The seats are well cushioned and let you sink into them. The rear seats can seat children in ample comfort and do offer some room but their flush with the floor positioning will cause adults to sit with legs tucked in. All things considered, the MU-7 is unlikely to break a sweat carrying a large family and some luggage.
The cabin has plenty of storage spaces and well positioned bottle holders are in abundance. Ingress and egress are aided by the large step running along the sides beneath the doors, though taller passengers may have to bend slightly when entering.
The MU-7 is currently assembled at the Hindustan Motors plant in Chennai, though Isuzu have started work on their 3,000-crore production facility at Sri City in Andhra Pradesh, which will be operational by 2016.