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Mazda rules out seven-seat 2021 Isuzu MU-X twin

The Isuzu D-Max and Mazda BT-50 might be twins, but don't go expecting a second set. There will be no Mazda MU-X.

Scott Collie
Scott Collie
Deputy Editor

Mazda and Isuzu’s partnership won’t extend to a rugged, off-road-ready seven-seat SUV.

Mazda last week confirmed the BT-50 ute – which is the same as the Isuzu D-Max under the skin, with identical suspension and steering tunes – is all that will come from its partnership with Isuzu.

There’ll be no Mazda based on the upcoming seven-seat Isuzu MU-X off-roader that’ll partner the D-Max ute, meaning the road-focused CX-9 will remain as Mazda’s flagship.

“This deal is for BT-50 and to supply a ute, and that’s where it begins and ends,” Mazda Australia market director Alastair Doak told media.

“Obviously there’s a wider collaboration… with Isuzu in Japan, but for us it’s just for BT-50 ute.”

MORE: Read our 2021 Mazda BT-50 XTR review

The updated MU-X is expected to launch next year. It’ll go head-to-head with the more powerful 2021 Toyota Fortuner, the Ford Everest, and the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport.

Although it’s long in the tooth, the current MU-X remains a strong seller for Isuzu. It’s sitting on 5020 sales to date in 2020, making it the most popular ute-based SUV in Australia ahead of the Everest.

It would fill a gap in the range and make a natural partner for the new BT-50, but a rugged off-road SUV wouldn’t necessarily fit with Mazda’s recent push to become more premium.

The closest thing it has offered to an off-road capable SUV was the Tribute, a twin to the Ford Escape. Since then, the brand’s SUV range has remained firmly road-focused.

MORE: 2021 Mazda BT-50 pricing and specs

Mazda has, however, dabbled in the world of off-roading before. In the 1970s the brand built a rugged, pared-back off-roader in Burma. It also sold a version of the three-door Ford Explorer Sport, badged Najavo, to the North American market in the 1990s.

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Scott Collie
Scott Collie

Scott Collie is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Scott studied journalism at RMIT University and, after a lifelong obsession with everything automotive, started covering the car industry shortly afterwards. He has a passion for travel, and is an avid Melbourne Demons supporter.

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