MG Hector Test Drive Review, Better than Tata Harrier, Jeep Compass?
MG is offering a lot of technology in their first product for India - the Hector SUV. But is the technology enough to attract buyers to a new brand? We find in our MG Hector review.
MG Hector SUV. (Photo: Arjit Garg/News18.com)
The Indian automobile market is going through a sea of change and the connected technology is at the forefront of these changes. When MG Motor, the iconic 94-year old British brand announced its entry in India, a lot of people laughed them off and there’s a reason to it. The Indian market is not easy for any car manufacturer to establish their footprint as it is largely dominated by just two brands. But then, MG Motor had different plans for their first offering in the domestic market. They decided to put all the technology they had in Hector – the SUV that will be incharge of establishing the MG Motor brand in India.
But is technology enough to attract the buyers in an industry that’s going through some rough time? We, for one, believe Indian consumers still prefer the actual, physical product over all the technology of the world and that’s what we will be discussing in our MG Hector test drive review.
The very first moment you lay your eye on the MG Hector, you realize how big this SUV is. The sheer size of the MG Hector gives it a unique road presence, especially from the front. Like most of the modern SUVs, the Hector gets a high placed horizontal LED DRLs sitting above a hexagonal chrome enclosed grille. Then there is the big head light cluster enclosed in a C-section chrome lining comprising the LED projector headlamps, and fog lights.
The side has an equally eye catching appeal with a floating roof, a large wheelbase and 17-inch dual toned alloys. While on paper the size of the tyre is enough, the large wheel arches and the mammoth size make the wheels feel small. There’s ample use of chrome elements too.
At the back are the LED taillights that gets a connected look thanks to a large horizontal reflector, dynamic indicators that look super cool and a large brushed aluminium finished skid plate. While the design of the back is unique, we wish it could have been a bit wider to give it an appeal and match the front and side. Overall, the MG Hector has an eye catching design.
Yes, the exteriors are exciting and all, but the real USP of the Hector lies inside the cabin. MG is calling the Hector India’s first Internet car. Fancy names aside, the MG Hector is a connected car that gets an embedded Sim from Airtel. This sim helps MG Hector get various connectivity features and you can use the iSMART app on your mobile to remotely control functions on your car like remotely starting the car or pushing the map.
MG has also partnered with many technology companies to provide various connectivity solutions with the iSMART technology. Apps like Gaana for listening to your favourite music, TomTom for navigation, and Accuweather for weather updates are preinstalled.
Companies like Microsoft, Adobe, Nuance, CISCO were roped in to provide a variety of technology features to the buyers. Infact, Nuance was roped in to add a voice command module in the MG Hector that enables the user to control more than 100 functions using your voice. It has been programmed to understand Indian accent and we used the function exhaustively to understand how good it is? And we were astonished to see how good it is as compared to some of the expensive luxury cars.
That being said, the infotainment system is also very intuitive to operate and is the largest of its kind with 10.4-inch screen size. The sound quality is brilliant, thanks to the Infiniti sound system.
In terms of features, the MG Hector is loaded to the brim with features like tyre pressure monitoring system, powered tailgate, electronically adjustable front seats, panoramic sunroof, ambient lighting, 360-view camera and more.
Now to address the elephant in the room, a lot of people are skeptical about the build quality of the Hector and calling it a Chinese car. No, the build quality is not bad. In fact, it is very good thanks to soft touch leather on the dashboard, chunky steering wheels and leather seats with good cushioning and bolstering. The doors are also on the heavier side. We found the seats to be a bit stiff though.
The all-black cabin is spacious as your living room, especially in the rear seats. Also, the footboard is fully flat, which no transmission tunnel hump. The rear seats can be reclined and also flat folded to generate extra space in the boot, which is otherwise deep, square and easy to load. The boot space is rated at 587-litre.
The MG Hector will be offered with 3 engine options in India - a 1.5-litre petrol, 1.5-litre petrol with a 48 Volt hybrid system, which is a first in the segment and also the most affordable one, and a 2.0-litre diesel unit. We drove both the petrol hybrid and diesel motors, but only with a 6-speed manual gearbox. However, there’s also a DCT on offer.
In terms of numbers, the 1.5-petrol and the petrol-hybrid delivers 143 PS and 250 Nm of output, while the 2.0-litre diesel delivers 170 PS and 350 Nm of power. The 48 Volt hybrid system pushes an extra 20% torque. Both the engines perform really well, and the gearshifts are also smooth. We found the diesel unit to be best suited for our test drive, which comprised mostly of the hilly terrain.
Which brings us to the handling. Since we drove the Hector mostly on the hills, the hairpin bends gave us an ample opportunity to test the steering response and we were impressed to say the least. The steering had a good feedback and felt aptly tuned for India and so was the suspension, which makes the ride quality plush and on a softer side.
The car also has supreme NVH levels, especially in the petrol motor. There was a clutter in the diesel motor though.
The MG Hector also gets a host of virtual safety features thanks to the iSMART system like a dedicated call centre for emergency assistance which the MG call a ‘Pulse Hub’, Geo Fence, among others. More safety features include an Electronic Stability Program, Hill Hold Control, 6-Airbags, TCS, and ABS with EBD.
MG has got almost everything in place to make the Hector a success in India – 1) A strong brand name with 94 years of rich history, 2) A spacious SUV that can give full-size SUVs a run-for-their-money, 3) A technology loaded cabin with a Tesla-styled vertical infotainment system, and 4) A infrastructure in place with 100+ outlets even before the first product is launched in India. The only thing remaining now is the price, which can be a make or break deal for the MG Hector. For now, we are impressed with this honest attempt MG has made to start their India innings.
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