Skid Marks

Isuzu Blue Power Bohol drive


Isuzu, in its commitment to provide the cleanest possible diesel powertrains in the country, has released their latest diesel engine that powers both the mu-X 7-seat SUV and its pickup sibling, the D-Max.

The improved engine now meets stringent Euro IV emissions standards in the Philippine market with greater power and efficiency.

This move also reinforces Isuzu’s reputation as the “diesel authority” in the country.

The new engine, which still retains the internal designation of 4JJ1-TCX, utilizes the latest Isuzu Blue Power proprietary technology in clean emissions and power production.

Output has improved from its predecessor, rising from 163 to 177 ps, while torque remains at 380 Nm.

The old 5-speed transmission has been replaced with a newer, slicker-shifting, and more responsive 6-speed automatic, bringing it at par with its competitors, while allowing for a better and wider spread of torque as well as reducing rpm on a highway cruise, thereby improving NVH as well as fuel economy.

Internal testing has showed that the new 4JJ1-TCX delivers an astounding 19.4 to 20 km per liter on the highway. Crucially, for many Isuzu loyalists, the revised engine delivers significantly far less noise and vibrations.

Though Isuzu doesn’t care to provide an approximate figure improvement in NVH, many journalists figure it to be in the region of 60 to 80 percent less noise and vibration.

The result is a far more refined and luxurious overall driving experience, something we discovered as we covered over 200 kilometers of highway, winding, and city roads through the island of Bohol.

Aside from the engine and transmission improvements, both mu-X and D-Max get significant upgrades inside and out.

For the 2018 model year, the mu-X gets a reshaped front bumper with new lower accents.

Illumination is provided by bi-LED headlights that incorporate the daytime running lights within the units.

Complementing the new light signature is mildly redesigned grill with more creases at its corners.

There are also changes made to the rear of the revamped mu-X, namely new lower bumper mouldings and new tail lights that now feature an LED strip.

The 2018 mu-X gets a reshaped front bumper with new lower accents.

Its side profile, on the other hand, retains the look of the current model but it does ride on new 18-inch alloy wheels, replacing the old 17-inch wheels.

The larger 18-inch wheels should improve stability on the highway as well as off-road performance.

The D-Max, on the other hand, has no exterior changes for now.

Inside, drivers are greeted by a new instrument cluster with a restyled vehicle information display.

For the mu-X, Isuzu added more soft-touch materials, and the seats also get a makeover with better quality leather and contrasting stitching.

The interior panels are finished off in sophisticated piano black wood trim, just like many premium European luxury cars.

The year 2018 also adds more features to the mu-X, including auto-headlight leveling, hill descent control, and a redesigned 8-inch screen entertainment system with USB link and text-to-speech navigation.

Moving to the D-Max, it gains hill start assist and hill descent control, as well as more USB ports in the cabin.

All these exterior and interior improvements help elevate the mu-X and D-Max to a more premium feeling lifestyle vehicle rather than just a simple workhorse for the Filipino.

On the highway, the mu-X and D-Max surprise you with very little engine, wind and tire noise. Cabin insulation is excellent, and the engine remains quiet even when cruising with the windows down while enjoying some fresh air.

The 6-speed transmission is responsive, and in manual mode, reacts quickly to inputs, making tight uphill and downhill mountain passes a breeze even with a full load of passengers and cargo.

The brakes are firm but offer excellent performance, though feel and modulation can be improved, perhaps with a change in brake fluid and proper bleeding.

The steering of both the mu-X and D-Max requires more heft compared to key rivals from Toyota, Nissan, Ford and Mitsubishi, but feel and feedback have improved significantly from the previous iterations.

Improvements in the mu-X and D-Max elevate them to a more premium feeling lifestyle vehicle.

Both give enough heft for confidence on high-speed highway driving as well better precision for off-road expeditions.

Ride comfort has also improved, thanks to tweaks in the suspension plus the aforementioned NVH changes. The new seats likewise offer better support for your back and legs.

Our drive took us through the Chocolate Hills in Carmen, the man-made forest through the towns of Loboc and Bilar (which has a huge density of beautiful and mature mahogany trees), and of course, a scenic cruise of Loboc River, plus short stops at the Tarsier Conservatory and Bohol Bee Farm and Conservatory.

All these natural attractions strike at the chord of Isuzu’s commitment for environmentally-friendly vehicles that deliver clean emissions as well as improved efficiency and economy.

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