We tackle the Shiyane Rorke’s Drift battlefields route with the Isuzu mu-X

Isuzu mu-X

“When the mu-X was delivered at the office, I couldn’t help but reminisce of the times I used to read about the Trooper and Frontier’s capabilities on my then favourite motoring magazines.”

The Isuzu mu-X was introduced in South African shores May 2018 and it was Isuzu’s take on reintroducing an SUV model on what has been a growing segment in South African motoring. Now, the mu-X is not the automaker’s first SUV but one can remember the Isuzu Trooper and Frontier which were either friends or foes of the Nissan Sani which was based on the Hardbody.

Isuzu mu-X

When the mu-X was delivered at the office, I couldn’t help but reminisce of the times I used to read about the Trooper and Frontier’s capabilities on my then favourite magazines. Fast forward from the ’90s, I land keys to an Obsidian Grey Isuzu mu-X which was my office for the week. As I first laid my eyes on it, the colour illuded premium with the size and ride height of the car suggesting one that would lead a VIP convoy. Over and above that, in my head, I just couldn’t wait to take the car on an offroad expedition which wasn’t long away from the day it was delivered.

I was lucky enough to have seen the mu-X being filled up to the brim when it was delivered as I did not like the colour of its sibling that was meant for me to test. On the range, I had about 520km and 10.0L/100km average consumption. To be fair on the mu-X, I reset the figures and I was ready to start creating moments with the Isuzu and 127.9km later I was averaging 8.3L/100km urban cycle and I still had a full tank. Impressed? Yes, I was but I couldn’t shake the feeling that once I drop one bar that would be the end of the smooth sipping mu-X.

It wasn’t long after till the offroad experience with the Isuzu mu-X started. It began with the drive to Maropeng where I was searching for picturesque locations where I could put the SUV in front of the lens before heading out to Shiyane. While deciding on a location, I came across a gravel road which leads to what looked like a chicken farm and without any traffic, I pointed the mu-X’s nose right to it and the surrounding seemed to have been waiting for this moment also as everything in front of the lens looked just right. After taking a few snaps and video snippets, I was ready to be on the 6 hours drive to Shiyane Rorke’s Drift. 

Isuzu mu-X

As the sun was already setting, the Isuzu mu-X front daytime LED design defined the vehicle’s athletic character. Nearing 18:00, the auto levelling BiLED headlamps came to play and with it, came the dynamically designed rear lights. Blending well with the surroundings, I gently muscled the 3.0-litre diesel engine producing 130kW and 380Nm mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. In this model, all power is sent through four wheels enveloped in Bridgestone rubber while 18-inch wheels completed the exterior look.

Well within the Isuzu mu-X, I was greeted by a 9-inch multi-functional touchscreen infotainment unit which was fitted with navigation and supported smartphone mirroring coupled with Bluetooth strimming, AUX and HDMI capabilities. The steering wheel is also multi-functional with buttons for audio and cruise control. Two USB ports are available for both front and first row rear passengers with the front port being difficult to get to because of its positioning and covers that are difficult to open especially for people with very short nails. Gracious in space was the cabin and all seven seats were covered in black leather. Added comfort and convenience was thanks to the car’s auto climate control for both front and rear passengers with the latter having access to their cooling vents.

Isuzu mu-X

Now back to the drive. The Isuzu mu-X provided a soft and comfortable ride with little to none exterior road and engine noise. One felt the car’s body roll even at slow speeds. Driven on the 23km long gravel road that starts from the R33 road that connects Msinga and Dundee, the mu-X required one to be focused on the wheel as it felt like it wasn’t grounded enough even after dropping my tyre pressure to reasonable bars suited for the terrain. Upon arrival at the Rorke’s Drift Museum, the dust had whisked itself nicely on the mu-X adding personality to the car and making the drive more exciting. 

With all rear seats folded, the car had enough space for more luggage and even provided resting ground during the journey. With the gentle foot that I have, and obviously having fun with the car on gravel, my fuel consumption at the time had risen to 8.9L/100km. Continuing the drive en route to Isandlwana, Isuzu’s mu-X soaked the bumps well on the gravel road but really showed its offroad prowess when we drove it alongside the uMzinyathi River that separates villages under Nquthu municipality and uMsinga later feeding into the Tugela River.

Isuzu mu-X

Accordingly, the Isuzu mu-X comes standard with Isuzu Complete Care, comprising a five-year/120 000km bumper-to-bumper warranty and Isuzu Roadside Assistance, a five-year/unlimited km anti-corrosion warranty and a five-year/90 000km Service Plan. Service intervals are every 15 000km/12 months.

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