Isuzu South Africa plans to introduce the Isuzu MU-X (Fortuner competitor) during the second half of 2018. Take a look at what you can expect from the MU-X, as well as a summary of its well-established competition in the popular segment.
With General Motors exiting the South African market at the end of 2017, Chevrolet and its capable but poor-selling Trailblazer SUV is no more. Isuzu, however, has taken over GM’s operations at the Struandale plant in Port Elizabeth, where it produces its KB pickup for both the local and other African markets.
As Isuzu works to set up at least 90 standalone dealerships across South Africa, the Japanese LCV and truck giant has confirmed that its KB-based MU-X 7-seater SUV will be introduced in South Africa in the second half of 2018, which should bolster the Japanese brand during this transitional phase. The MU-X, however, will not be built in South Africa, but will rather be imported from Thailand.
Moreover, local specification and engine offerings have yet to be finalised. In Australia, the mu-X is powered by a Euro-5 compliant, 3.0-litre turbodiesel engine with 130 kW and 430 Nm of torque, which is unlikely to be offered in South Africa due to our poor fuel quality.
However, it is likely that the familiar, albeit detuned, 130 kW/380 Nm 3.0-litre turbodiesel engine that currently does service in the Isuzu KB will be offered in the mu-X if it arrives and it might even be paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission, unlike the 5-speed automatic used in the KB. The MU-X is also likely to be offered in both 4x2 and 4x4 guise. The 4x4 derivatives will feature the KB’s familiar "shift-on-the-fly" gearing system that allows for easy transition between 2H, 4H and 4L.
The interior of the Isuzu MU-X is rather workmanlike, but it's robust and should withstand everyday abuse with relative ease.
As for the MU-X’s interior, it’s utilitarian in design, which might fall short of the competition, but it should prove to be well-suited to cope with the abuse it will face on a typical South African family adventure holiday. Space for front and second-row passengers is adequate and the MU-X offers 878 litres of space when the third row of seats aren’t in use. When they are in use, load volume reduces to 235 litres. With the entire rear passenger area used for load carrying purposes, a capacious 1 830 litres is at your disposal.
Our Australian correspondent Matt Campbell, drove the range-topping MU-X which was also fitted with a touchscreen infotainment system and a roof-mounted, 10-inch DVD player, but we can only hope that these nifty features will be offered in our market.
Provided that Isuzu can offer the MU-X with competitive pricing and a reasonable amount of standard specification, we believe that it could sell relatively well in South Africa – at the very least better than the departed Chevrolet Trailblazer. Let’s take a look at 3 of the Isuzu MU-X’s key rivals in South Africa.
By far the most popular 7-seat SUV in South Africa, the Toyota Fortuner has found favour with thousands of local buyers and continues to sell strongly on a monthly basis. The Fortuner is offered with a choice of 4 engines including the popular 130 kW/420 Nm 2.8-litre turbodiesel, the 100 kW/400 Nm 2.4-litre turbodiesel, the 122 kW/245 Nm 2.7-litre petrol and the 175 kW/376 Nm 4.0-litre V6 petrol. The Fortuner is available in both 4x2 and 4x4 guises; manual and automatic transmissions are offered.
In terms of luggage space, we suspect (but stand to be corrected), that the MU-X’s load bay will offer more space than the Fortuner. In the Fortuner, the third row of seats fold away to the sides of the load bay, impinging on the utility space. In the MU-X, the seats fold into the floor leaving the load bay unobstructed, which means the MU-X may have more "usable" space.
Pricing for the Toyota Fortuner starts at R448 900, going all the way up to R682 400 for the V6 derivative. It’s worth mentioning that the Toyota Fortuner 2.8 GD-6 4x4 Auto scooped the win in the Adventure SUV category of the Cars.co.za Awards - powered by WesBank.
The Ford Everest is a popular alternative to the Fortuner and it too sells well on a monthly basis. The Everest is offered with a choice of 2 engines including the 118 kW/385 Nm 2.2-litre turbodiesel and the larger, more powerful 147 kW/470 Nm 3.2-litre turbodiesel. Both 4x2 and 4x4 derivatives are offered with manual and automatic transmissions available to buyers.
In terms of loading capacity, the Everest is slightly more spacious than the Isuzu mu-X with a load capacity of 1 050 litres with the third row of seating stowed in the boot floor. Furthermore, with all the seats folded flat, the Everest offers up to 2 010 litres of space.
Pricing for the Ford Everest starts at R459 900 and goes up to R706 900 for the top-spec Everest 3.2 4WD Limited, which was a finalist in the Adventure SUV category of the Cars.co.za Awards – powered by WesBank.
Mitsubishi Pajero Sport
Mitsubishi introduced its all-new Pajero Sport to market last year and although it doesn't sell as well as the Fortuner or Everest, it’s still a formidable and more affordable rival in this segment. The Pajero Sport is offered as a 4x2 or 4x4, both powered by a 133 kW/430 Nm 2.4-litre turbodiesel engine. An automatic transmission is fitted as standard.
In terms of load space, the Pajero Sport offers 813 litres with the third row of seats stowed and only 193 litres with all the seats in use. That means that the Isuzu MU-X offers more load space than the Pajero Sport.
Pricing for the Pajero Sport starts at R569 995 for the 4x2 version while the 4x4 version is priced at R599 995. The Pajero Sport 2.4 D4 4x4 was also a finalist in the Adventure SUV category of the Cars.co.za Consumer Awards – powered by WesBank.