There are many places in South Africa that could fight it out for the title of “Best gravel riding in SA” and everyone will have their favourite, but I am pretty sure that the Overberg will be on everyone’s list. So we packed up an Isuzu mu-X from Reeds Isuzu in N1 City and hit the road in search of some pure gravel goodness. Our destination? The Cape Agulhas.
As cyclists the vehicle we end up buying usually has to cover certain criteria and if you prefer off-road cycling, having a vehicle that can also go off-road is naturally practical. From the first moment we got into the MU-X it screamed practicality.
There are few brands out there that can boast a reliability record as illustrious as Isuzu and the mu-X is no different. Built on a similar platform as their famous KB bakkie series this SUV is no pavement hopper in adventure guise. It’s the real deal. Although we had the 4x2 version the mu-X was extremely capable on some steep and loose rocky terrain. If you struggle with options, Isuzu has made things really easy for you. All models of the mu-X come with Isuzu’s bullet proof 3.0 turbo Diesel engine, with your choice of either 4x2 or 4x4.
On the open road heading out of Cape Town the mu-X was incredibly smooth. It really is a phenomenally comfortable vehicle. Considering the fact that it has 7 seats and myself, at 6’2, can sit in all 7 seats and not feel cramped is quite something. Accelerating to overtake was no struggle at all for the mu-X with its 130kw power output, and the 6 speed automatic transmission shifted gears effortlessly when required. Fuel economy for the 2 ton beast was also a pleasant surprise. On the open road, even fully loaded with bicycles and gear, the consumption hovered around 8lt/100km. In town it was closer to 11lt/100km.
The mu-X might have slightly less than its competitors in the power department but on the open road I barely felt like I missed the extra power.
With a ground clearance of 220mm there was very little that we couldn’t drive in our search for the Overbergs best gravel. The mu-X has been awarded a 5 star safety rating with its 6 airbags and impact absorbing chassis. The suspension swallowed up the ruts and corrugations on some rough roads leaving us with a smooth and comfortable ride, something a gravel bike is not known to do. The mu-X felt equally at home in town as it did in the mountains / gravel roads of the Overberg.
The best part of an SUV is that, unlike a bakkie without a canopy etc, when you stop for road snacks or a toilet break you don’t have to worry about the safety of your gear. Having it all locked away inside the vehicle is a big plus for me. The mu-X felt like it drove like a legendary KB series bakkie but had the safety and convenience of a car. In my humble opinion, the best of both worlds. An adventure wagon that can tackle just about anything you throw at it, but still keep your stuff safe when you’ve stopped at Seattle to fill up your Double Short Latte.
In summary, Isuzu might not have put a ton of ultra-modern features into their flagship SUV but you get exactly what you need. There are no unnecessary trinkets and gizmos here, they have put all the attention into the places that matter, like the French-stitched leather interior and the fact that all 5 of the back seats fold down flat giving you more packing space than its competitors. You get cruise control, a reverse camera and full mobile connectivity with Apple CarPlay / Android Auto Etc and a 6.5 inch touch screen.
Instead of adding flash and flair Isuzu have built a perfectly comfortable adventure hungry beast that will give you a real driving thrill and have you just as excited to drive on the Monday morning commute as you are for that weekend getaway.