Joshua David Luther; Photography: Mohd. Nasir
If you close your eyes and imagine a
lion with a pink ribbon around its neck, clipped claws, and a trimmed mane it
would look nothing more than an oversized pussycat. Most of the offerings in
the luxury SUV segment are like the oversized pussycat you just imagined. It
would be pointless to own an SUV which you are afraid of taking off-road. The
SUVs today have back massagers, GPS navigation, multi-media entertainment and
other features which are found on high-end saloons. The whole point of an SUV
is defeated if it is not capable of going off-road and that is exactly what is
happening in today’s market. If your SUV gives you a sense of confidence when
you are on the road less travelled, then it is worthy of that tag. You don’t
call it an SUV just because it can seat 7 people. When I took the MU-7 for an
off-road test it just reminded me of how much fun you could have behind the
wheel of a real SUV. For those five hours I forgot I was working, I forgot what
office looked like, I forgot about the burdens of life and simply lost my
senses to the explorer in me. I felt like I was on a jungle safari minus the
annoying tour guides and drivers, this was the real deal.
Yes, Isuzu entered late into the
market but I have fallen in love with their MU-7 because of the freedom it gave
me. We took the MU-7 through a jungle on the outskirts of Delhi. Now if this
was any other vehicle I would be sweating like a fat man sprinting through the
Sahara desert. The terrain was unforgiving and the slightest mistake would mean
being stuck in the middle of a jungle with no help whatsoever. Lucky for me I
was behind the wheel of an MU-7 because this monster is practically
unstoppable. The MU-7 has a ground clearance of 210mm which is oh so handy when
you have rocks to climb over. In terms of length the MU-7 sits right under the
5 metre mark and the cabin space rivals that of a yacht. When you pop the hood
you will find Hercules sitting there.
Well I’ve taken to calling the
2999cc 4-cylinder Intercooled VGS Turbo Diesel as Isuzu’s Hercules. The engine
produces 161bhp @ 3600rpm and churns out a blistering 360Nm of torque @ 1800-2800rpm.
The MU-7 has the biggest engine amongst its competitors and produces the
highest level of torque in its category. The vehicle sits on an independent
double wishbone suspension in the front and a rigid leaf spring with
gas-sealed, twin tube shocks in the rear. When you are off-road in this SUV you
will get thrown around quite a bit but that comes with the territory. The
suspension really complements the drive and handling of the MU-7. Bumps and
potholes on city roads are virtually non-existent thanks to the well engineered
shock absorbers. Even at speeds exceeding 80kmph on dirt tracks the vehicle
holds its own. The MU-7 has wide 245/ 70 R16 tyres which provide some
phenomenal grip and traction while giving the SUV a very imposing stance. It is
quite clear from the room provided under the flared wheel arches that this SUV
has been designed and engineered keeping off-road conditions in mind. The MU-7
has a turning radius of 6.2 meters which is slightly more than some of the
other contestants in this segment. Another delight on the vehicle is the hydraulic
power assisted steering. As most of the industry is moving towards electric
power steering its predecessor the hydraulic power steering system has seen
some decades of innovation and change. The advantage a hydraulic power steering
has over the electric counterpart is feedback. It is quite essential especially
while off-roading that the driver has a constant line of communication with the
vehicle and that is where the hydraulic power steer beats the electric version.
This feedback is essential for gauging maneuvers and resistance from the
terrain. The down side is that the steering becomes partially heavier but if
you are an off-road enthusiast this is the way to go.
The interiors resemble business
class travel in an airplane with leather upholstery, chrome trims and wooden
finish. The MU-7 has a dual air conditioning unit with the second and third
rows getting ceiling vents which can be controlled from the second row. The SUV
gets ample of storage space for luggage and an easy to fold third row. The SUV
has some smartly tucked cubby holes like a sunglasses holder on the roof above the
centre console, a card holder on the centre console, cup holders in the front
centre console, a coin holder on the centre floor panel among other smartly
packaged cubby holes and bottle holders. The backlit instrument cluster has an
odometer and a dual trip meter apart from instant and average fuel consumption.
The infotainment system is a 7” touch screen DVD player by Kenwood. It has
functions like Bluetooth streaming, AUX and USB. The audio system also works as
the screen for the rear view camera but I feel the display can be improved in
terms of ergonomics and visibility. In the second row you have a roof mounted
9” LCD screen with a remote control and game joystick for entertainment on the
go. It is USB and SD card enabled with AV in options. The MU-7 has been packed
with some really handy features as well as the capability to conquer the worst
of terrains. The price on the BS-IV version of the MU-7 is Rs. 21.95
(ex-showroom Delhi) and it’s not a bargain it’s a steal.
Isuzu MU-7 4X2 SPECIFICATIONS
2999cc, 4 cylinder,
Intercooled VGS Turbo Diesel
Manual RWD 4X2
Brakes Front/ Rear
Fuel tank capacity
Tyres: Front/ Rear
wishbone with torsion bar springs / Leaf spring suspension with gas-sealed
twin tube shock absorbers
245/70 R16, Radial
Rs 21.95 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi)
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