Spicing up an already good platform
Make no mistake about it: Isuzu definitely likes making special editions of their cars.
The strategy is simple: they take one of their cars, accessorize it with original equipment, customize it a little bit, and offer it for sale as a special edition. It’s a tried and tested marketing tactic for them, and they’ve done it for every model they’ve had for the last decade.
Now there’s a new one, and it’s on the Isuzu mu-X, a model that has been around since 2014. Isuzu calls it the Black Series.
The Black Series is not what we call a facelift version of the mu-X; instead it’s what we consider to be a different treatment of the current design. Normally, high-grade Isuzu models have quite a bit of chrome on the outside, but not this one. Isuzu applied Cosmic Black on quite a few of the trim pieces, the accents, and other bits save for the exterior doorhandles. Just about the only things that aren’t black are the wheels, the doorhandles, the lamps and the logos. The treatment gives this mu-X a rather more aggressive, if not daring, all-black look.
Inside, the mu-X is also slightly updated with some neat little touches and accents. Instead of black, Isuzu used some trim pieces and plastic accents that mimic the weave of carbon fiber. Even the smart key is housed in the same accent material.
This Isuzu mu-X Black Series is effectively the top-of-the-line mu-X LS-A, meaning it has all of the features and capabilities of the high-grade variant. The multimedia system with Bluetooth and iPod connectivity comes standard, along with a fully automatic climate control system. Also interesting is the drop-down LCD screen; perfect to keep kids occupied. The seats are all clad in leather; comfortable and plush. I particularly liked the controls, as well as the new gauges; the readouts are clear.
There are no surprises on what’s under the hood: it is the 3.0L 4JJ1-TC engine. For owners of the previous Alterra, this name sounds familiar; it’s really the same engine. Thanks to a new variable turbo, this mu-X makes more power and more torque at 161 bhp and 280 foot pounds of torque. The engine is paired with a 5-speed auto with manual mode. It’s not a 4×4, but it has the ground clearance to deal with many obstacles.
As a daily drive, the mu-X excels. It’s not what we would call nimble, but this big, heavy vehicle manages its heft very well thanks to that torquey diesel and soft, power-assisted steering. There’s a bit of lean in the corners, but that’s ok; comfort matters more than anything else when driving in the city.
What we liked was the fuel consumption of the mu-X. Over 55 city kilometers at an average speed of 20 km/h, the mu-X consumed 5.4 liters; that totals to 10.2 kilometers to a liter. Mind you, that was just with me in the car, so expect it to go down a bit with passengers and/or cargo. On the highway, that improves further to 14.5 km/l (average speed 91 km/h) but it could even be better to 15.7 km/l if you’re being patient and cruising at a lower speed (74 km/h average).
On a long cruise, the mu-X’s suspension works like a great couch; it takes cars of the bad stuff for you. Again, cornering isn’t particularly great, but it’s not like a land yacht either; you can still take corners with good confidence at speed.
The mu-X Black Series may be a cosmetic special edition, but it does matter to a very loyal customer base for Isuzu. And given that the fundamentals are always solid with any Isuzu, something to spice it up is all that’s needed from time to time.
Engine:Inline-4, 2999cc, dohc, 16V, CRDI VGT turbodiesel, 5-speed AT
Max Power:161 bhp @ 3200 rpm
Max torque:280 lb ft @ 1800 – 2200 rpm
0-100 km/h:11.2 sec.
Top Speed:220 km/h
Fuel Mileage: 10.2 km/l City / 14.5 km/l Highway
+:Comfortable, efficient, and very well equipped
-:Carbon trim could be of better OE quality
Price as tested: PhP 1,518,000