Isuzu MU-7 and D-Max spotted undergoing ARAI tests

A regular reader of Anything On Wheels from Pune has caught Isuzu's current Indian lineup, the premium SUV MU-7 and the D-Max pick-up, being tested by the Automotive Regulatory Authority of India (ARAI). Snapped in the early hours of Tuesday in the outskirts of the city, the reader claims that the fleet of test vehicles also included commercial pick-ups from rival brands like Tata, Mahindra and Ashok Leyland.

Until last year, Isuzu's association with India was limited to supplying engines to Hindustan Ambassador and commercial vehicles. That's excluding the Tavera, which is actually an Isuzu rebadged as a Chevrolet for our market. All that changed in 2013 when the Japanese brand made a silent, almost unnoticed entry into the Indian market with the MU-7 and D-Max. Both the models were first imported as Completely Built Units (CBU) and retailed through just a couple of dealerships, one each in Hyderabad and Coimbatore.

Meanwhile, Isuzu announced setting up a full-fledged manufacturing facility at Sri City in Andhra Pradesh, thus committing itself to a long term in India. Two years is what it would take for the first vehicle to roll out of that facility and Isuzu wasn't interested in waiting until then. The result was an agreement with Hindustan Motors that would facilitate local assembly of MU-7 and D-Max from Completely Knocked Down (CKD) kits sourced from Thailand. While HM's Chennai facility that also rolls out the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport started assembly of the MU-7 a few months back, D-Max was expected to join shortly.

Putting all these pieces together, we assume that it is the locally-assembled MU-7 and D-Max that's being tested by the ARAI, possibly for homologation purposes. The MU-7 seen here is the standard model without the "Hi Pack" which means that it loses out on visual add-ons like bumper spoiler, black plastic inserts and chrome garnishing in the registration plate, exhaust pipe and door handles. From the angle in which it is shot, we aren't able to ascertain if the D-Max being tested is the standard single cab or the extended cab version. What we do know however is that the MU-7 is powered by a 3.0-liter, turbocharged, direct injection diesel engine while the D-Max has a 2.5-liter diesel engine under its hood.

With Isuzu's plans for India seemingly in full swing, we expect to see and hear a lot more of this Japanese brand in the coming months. Keep visiting Anything On Wheels!

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