The undercard fight of a different kind

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A FIGHT-CARD is a schedule of all the boxing matches to take place during a meet.

Andrew Muzamhindo
Analyst

It contains one main bout and the undercard. A fight-card is simply referred to as the “card”.

Now, if this week’s vehicle comparison were a boxing tie, it would not be so difficult to place on the “card”.

It would definitely be on the under-card, not the main bout, or the headline fight.

Not to say under-cards are less attractive fights that do not generate any public interest. Of course they do create a fair amount of interest and, while they are not sold as a spectacle, like they do with the main fight, many undercards have given the paying spectator full value for his ticket.

The main event, though, is for the big boys’ fight: the Land Cruiser 200 series, Range Rover, Mercedes Benz, Audi and BMW. Toyota Fortuner and Isuzu MU-X are not your luxury SUVs, but they are your workhorse all-purpose SUVs.

Their practicality, value for money and multi-purpose usage make them popular. They are purchased more than the outright luxury SUVs. They do not grab the headlines. They are truck based. It is a way for manufacturers to get more sales volume without having to design a new vehicle from scratch.

The Ford Everest was developed from the Ford Ranger, Toyota Fortuner from the Hilux, Isuzu MU-X from the D-MAX, and the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport from the Triton. This week, we look at the fight between Toyota Fortuner and the all-new Isuzu MU-X. Which one deserves your coin?

The full-sized 7-seater SUV market is tailor-made for Zimbabwe. Toyota Fortuner has dominated the local market for a long time now, with a token challenge from Ford Everest in the past. Locally, the Ford Everest has been associated with Members of Parliament and the ruling party. Ford has upped its game with the all-new Ford Everest which I have not yet seen locally. But this is a discussion for another day, another week on your favourite motoring column. Today we focus on the rivalry between the all-new Fortuner and the all-new Isuzu MU-X.

The Toyota Fortuner SUV now has a new updated cabin. The 100-year-old Japanese brand Isuzu has come up with the MU-X.

It is a new entrant that is challenging the leader of the pack, Toyota Fortuner.

The new Toyota Fortuner retains its time-honoured features. Being a new entrant, the new Isuzu MU-X Isuzu lacks recognised qualities. The new Toyota Fortuner has a completely new front face, with a lot of chrome makeover throughout the face, including fog lamp enclosures and massive grille. The headlights are strident, as are the tail lamps.

It has muscular square wheel arches and a chunky set of wheels.

Overall, the new Fortuner is much sharper looking. It looks more dominating than the previous Fortuner model, as well as the Isuzu mu-X. I would actually compare the older Fortuner model and the new MU-X in terms of outside looks.

Like the Fortuner, the MU-X also gets a lot of chrome treatment, especially on the front with a big chrome grille. The overall look is inspired by Isuzu’s D-Max V-Cross truck and also from the Chevrolet Trailblazer. The rear gets the wrap around tail lights. The Isuzu MU-X is not as menacing as the Fortuner, looks-wise, but it is a more balanced — looking SUV.

When you climb inside the cabin of the Toyota Fortuner you are welcomed by a modern and feature — loaded interior. The dark-themed cabin gets brownish leather on the seats, black soft-touch leather on the dashboard and aluminium brush accents on the centre console, steering and door inserts. The cabin is nothing like the previous-generation Fortuner and is also way too loaded when compared to the Isuzu MU-X. You get a touchscreen infotainment system, automatic climate control, steering-mounted controls, and a lot of storage spaces, along with three full rows of seating. Safety wise, the Fortuner outruns the MU-X as it gets 7 airbags, hill assist control, ABS, and vehicle safety control among others.

The Isuzu MU-X, on the other hand, has less features than the Fortuner and does not feel as plush too. It feels bare. The beige leather seats give the MU-X a sense of roominess, while the grey dashboard and piano black accents contrast the whole setup. It gets a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment screen, which is not as good to use as the one on the Fortuner. There is a rotary automatic climate control, and a 10-inch DVD screen for the rear passengers and it has steering-mounted controls. The MU-X also gets full 3 rows of seating, easily accommodating seven adults. Overall, if you are someone who is a gadget freak and loves a plush cabin, then the MU-X may not be your cup of tea.

Toyota Fortuner comes in two sets of engine — a 2.8-litre diesel unit with 177 PS and 420 Nm of output and a 2.7-litre petrol engine with 166 PS and 245 Nm output. There are three gearbox options to choose from — a 5-speed manual, a 6-speed manual and a 6-speed automatic unit. The diesel Fortuner is one of the most torque friendly SUVs around and that is pretty much evident in the way it performs on the road.

There is enough power on tap to outperform any car in traffic. The diesel unit is also the one that gets a 4-wheel drive system for off-roading. But without the 4WD too, the Fortuner is a competent off-roader with abilities to run on any surface without much hassle. The steering is on the heavier side and needs a lot of effort, while the seats are comfortable enough for off roading.

The Isuzu MU-X, on the other hand, gets only a 3-litre turbocharged engine with 177 PS of output and 380 Nm of torque. On paper, the torque is a little less as compared to the Fortuner, and comes equipped with a 5-speed automatic gearbox. The engine makes a lot of sound while accelerating hard and the best way to enjoy this car is at cruising speed. The steering is lighter than the Fortuner’s and makes it feel like a compact SUV. The ride quality is also on the softer side and helps MU-X have a plush ride. It is likely to give you 10 kms per litre.

As pointed out earlier, Toyota Fortuner has always been the dominating SUV in Zimbabwe. With the new Fortuner in town, Toyota promises better features, safety, cabin and sporty exteriors. However, it is more expensive than the MU-X.

The Isuzu MU-X is an affordable alternative to the Fortuner.

However, a cheaper price tag means less equipment, one-engine option and not so exciting exteriors. In the end, it all comes down to the price Vs dominance argument! The Fortuner will give you a good resale value more than the MU-X as well.

andrew@muzamhindo.com

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