The Numbers

3.0-litre turbo-diesel 4cyl, 2WD or 4WD, 130kW, 380Nm, 8.2L/100km (2WD), 8.4L/100km (4WD)

The Topgear Verdict

If you want an SUV that can tackle more than a trip to Ikea, then the Isuzu's got you covered.

2013 Isuzu MU-X

What is it?

This, my friends, is an Isuzu MU-X - the Japanese light-commercial specialists' (it of the D-MAX ute) first foray into an Isuzu-branded passenger car in Australia. It's done it before, of course, with the Holden-badged Jackaroo and a couple of Asia-only SUVs, but this it still something of a momentous occasion for the brand's Australian HQ.

Is it any good?

It's hard to be both rugged and sensitive. Near impossible, even. There's the obvious exception of Daniel Craig, but he's the dreamiest dream you've ever dreamed, so he's probably a one off. And so it is with Isuzu's MU-X. It's a big, brash, bruising thing so closely related to the D-MAX that it always kind of feels like a truck that's been converted into a passenger car. It's as tough as a scrapyard dog, though, and while its missing some of the interior niceties of its more-established competitors, it leaves you with the unshakeable impression that it'll climb anything, survive everything and run forever.

How many balloons were there?

Thousands. The grand unveiling, at Bangkok's 4WD World, was accompanied by the a swell of what sounded like North Korean propaganda music and the release of thousands of balloons. What did it all mean? Who knows? Who cares? Balloons!

What's it packing?

A tried-and-tested 3.0-litre, 4cyl diesel good for 130kW and 380Nm. The engine's linked with a five-speed auto or manual gearbox and it comes in two- or four-wheel drive variants.

And to drive?

It's not the most composed on-road; it tends to sway a little through corners, but only when you really push it. The steering is a touch vague, too. But the suspension floats smoothly over bumps and corrugations and, crucially, it's a beast off road. The 4WD centre threw some gnarly stuff at the MU-X, and it devoured all before it with ease. It never feels under-powered, either. This might be the strongest-feeling diesel on the market.

How much are we talking?

Not much. The three-trim-level range takes in 2WD and 4WD and stretches from $40,500 for the base-spec manual to $53,500 for the full-fruit 4WD. Expect them to land cheaper than that, though. Isuzu are serious about shifting these things, and are promising keen drive-away pricing. We're tipping you'll pay sub-$40k for the base and sub-$50k for the big boy. For something this tough and capable, that's a bargain.

Reviewed by: Andrew Chesterton

Driven: November 07, 2013