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Isuzu launches new MU-X in Thailand

The Aussie arrival of Isuzu Ute’s new MU-X remains a mystery after Thai launch

3 Nov 2020

ISUZU Ute has debuted what could end up being one of 2021’s most hotly anticipated large SUVs with the D-Max-based MU-X seven-seater due to go on sale in Thailand as of November 9, however Australian timing remains up in the air.


Just like the pick-up truck on which it is based, the MU-X has been treated to a multitude of styling, mechanical, platform and equipment upgrades to create the next-gen off-road family hauler.


An important car for Isuzu Ute Australia, the MU-X was the third best-selling sub-$70,000 large SUV through the first nine months of 2020, occupying an 8.0 per cent share of the segment and making it the best-selling ute-based offering by more than 620 units.


The most obvious differences between the current MU-X and the next generation one is of course the styling, with the new model borrowing a select few elements from the D-Max but largely carving out its own identity like some of its key rivals do.


At the front there is an all-new fascia centred around the same toothed grille inserts as the D-Max, from there on however everything is unique.


Compared to the current model, the new MU-X brandished much narrower LED headlights, a narrower but taller grille and a more curvaceous front bumper containing the low-set foglights.


According to Isuzu Ute, the new MU-X was designed around an ‘Emotional and Solid’ philosophy with emphasis said to be placed on its “underbody strength”.


Viewed from the side, the car boasts a greater sense of size and looks to ride a lot higher on its platform than the current model, more in the ilk of the Toyota Fortuner, despite only being 15mm taller.


Overall length (4850mm) and wheelbase (2855mm) have grown too, up 25mm and 40mm respectively, as has the car’s width (1870mm excluding mirrors) which is up 10mm.


Sticking with the flanks, the overall theme and silhouette of the body has also been changed, now being much squarer with fewer rounded features and more straight body contour lines.


At the rear is a completely redesigned C-pillar which has been drastically moved back, dispensing with the current wraparound rear window design.


The differences also continue with the tailgate, with the rear window now subtly sweeping upwards along its lower edge while the tail-lights have been made thinner and more pointed, now flanking a bold Isuzu badge rather than the boot-release button.


Said button is now mounted much lower down, cresting the inset numberplate mount which in turn splits the secondary badging.


The rear bumper is largely featureless save for a contrasting cream diffuser-come-skid.


While the exterior follows the aforementioned ‘Emotional and Solid’ design philosophy, Isuzu Ute says the interior follows a ‘Solid and Elegant’ philosophy with an emphasis on ruggedness and comfort going hand in hand.


Essentially the cabin layout matches that of the latest D-Max and as such will mark a big step up in ergonomics, quality, comfort and tech with various niceties including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto set to be offered as standard, accessed via the now familiar 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system.


Given it rides on the same new-gen ladder-frame chassis as the D-Max, it should come as no surprise to find the same 3.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine residing under the bonnet, still producing 140kW/450Nm.


Transmission duties meanwhile will be handled by the same six-speed automatic transmission driving all four wheels via a part-time all-wheel-drive system.


Much like the power outputs, fuel capacity has also risen to a usefully generous 80 litres, up 15L from 65L.


Under the skin, the new MU-X rides on double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension with disc brakes in all four corners as opposed to the rear drums of the D-Max.


Naturally the MU-X inherits the same Terrain Command system as its ute sibling as well as the 800mm wading depth, however a ground-clearance figure has been confirmed yet – we would expect it to be close to the D-Max’s 235-240mm depending on the variant.


While Isuzu Ute Australia was unable to confirm the exact timing of the new MU-X, it did say it was “monitoring the market response” to the news of the new model “to ensure that any product updates to the MU-X in the future, meet the Australian market’s requirements – before committing to any changes in the local Australian product”.


Based on industry timelines and the typical trend of wagons following about 12 months behind the pick-up truck donor vehicles, we expect the new MU-X to land Down Under in the third quarter of next year.

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