Isuzu’s journey in India, ever since they set up shop in 2012, has been one of cautious and measured steps. Starting off with importing Completely Built Units (CBU) of the D-Max pickup and the MU-7 from Thailand, they moved towards assembling them with Hindustan Motors Limited in 2013. In 2014, they started the construction of their own plant at Sricity, Andra Pradesh and in 2016, brand new D-Max and D-Max V-Crosses are ready to roll out of the plant.
The plant is spread across 107 acres and Isuzu has spent 3000 crores in setting it up. Although the facility has a production capacity of 50,000 units a year, it can be scaled up to 120,000 with demand. As of now, though, production rate is a low seven cars per day since production is being ramped up in tranches. Since there is no press shop yet, the body panels are being imported from Thailand along with the engines. With time though, Isuzu is aiming for a localization level of 70% with a press shop already under construction. For now, it is only the D-Max range which is going to produced in the plant, starting from the Crew Cab to the V-Cross.
For Isuzu, the D-Max V-Cross is what they believe will bring in the volumes. We had first seen the V-Cross at the Auto Expo, and now it is ready for launch, with production already underway at the new plant. Although we did not get a proper drive of the V-Cross, we did have an opportunity to have a look-see at the final production variant and take it for a short spin around a gravel course. The D-Max (and the V-Cross) nothing but a Chevrolet Colorado/ Trailblazer underneath, with all these vehicles based on the same platform architecture, the iGRIP, in Isuzu-speak.
Forget sub-4m, finding a parking spot for the V-Cross could be quite a daunting task with its 5.5m length. In India, the V-Cross is going to be launched only in the dual crew configuration and a switchable-on-the-fly four wheel drive system. Powering the V-Cross is a 134 bhp/32.6 kgm 2.5-litre diesel engine with a five speed manual transmission. With a ladder-on-frame chassis and a leaf springs behind, the V-Cross is as old school as it gets. The interiors though, are very modern, similar to the Chevrolet Trailblazer with few differences. When launched, the V-Cross will come with all the creature comforts like automatic climate control, a 7 inch touchscreen system, projector headlamps, the works. In a welcome step, ABS, EBD, brake assist and dual front airbags will be offered as standard.
While Isuzu was tight-lipped about when they will be launching the MU-X, they did confirm that the MU-7 will continue to be assembled by Hindustan Motors and they had no plans to shift production to the new plant. Bookings for the V-Cross is going to start soon, with the launch in a month. The V-Cross is not the first entrant into the lifestyle pick-up market, with the Mahindra Getaway and the Tata Xenon preceding it, but it looks to be the most promising one since Isuzu is aiming to price it around the 15 lakh mark (ex-showroom). At that price, it deserves a long hard look, but time will tell and especially once we have had a proper go at the car.
Still, in black and especially a tonneau cover for the loading bay, the V-Cross looks extremely good.