The SUV market in India is growing with lot many Compact and Sub Compact SUV’s entering it at a fast pace. As MG Motor is all set to enter the Indian market their very first model the Hector SUV takes on the likes of the Nissan Kicks on one end and rivals the likes of the Hyundai Tucson, Tata Harrier, Jeep Compass, Mahindra XUV5OO to name a few. The Hector is termed as The Internet Car for its highly advanced connected features which we will talk of later in the review. MG Motor is banking very high on the Hector and does not want to leave any stone unturned for its success. We dig deep into the MG Hector down South in the city of Coimbatore and drive it up all the way to the sleepy town of Coonoor, as we try to find out everything about it on the way. Here’s our extensive roadtest review on India’s first Internet car the MG Hector.
Food for Thought
MG Motor is the iconic British car maker whose history goes back to 1924, the brand was acquired by SAIC Motor UK which is owned by SAIC Motor China. Now SAIC is the Maruti Suzuki of China, it’s a huge brand there, the top car maker the country. Coming to the MG Hector, the SUV is based on the Boujun 530 which again is a brand under the SAIC Motor umbrella. The Boujun 530 is also sold as the latest generation Chevrolet Captiva in South America and Thailand and as the Wuling Almaz in Indonesia. Apart from India the Hector-Boujun 530 is built in China and Indonesia.
The MG Hector at first glance looks massive and has a very imposing stance. The Hector’s 4655mm length makes it the longest SUV in its class. The Hector is 1835mm wide, has a height of 1760mm and a overall wheelbase of 2750mm which again is one of the longest wheelbase of the lot. You will either fall in love or hate it instantly at first look, but you just can’t ignore its presence. There was a constant curiosity amongst the people wherever we took the Hector. Keeping up with the current design trend the MG Hector gets its Dual Projector all LED headlamps placed in the mid section of the bumper. The front fascia is dominated by a massive honeycomb mesh design grille with a huge MG badging placed in the centre. Thick chrome accents which surround the grill makes its way to the bonnets lip and neatly integrates itself with LED DRL’s. The headlamps also gets a thick chrome C-shaped garnish adding to the bling factor on the face of the Hector. The fog lamps are placed right below the headlamps which are also all-LED and double up as cornering lights.
The lower half of the bumper gets the air dam which also has the same honey comb grille and plastic skid plates finished in silver colour and also comes with integrated front parking sensors. The side profile of the Hector is a mixed bag of all the vehicles in its class and the smaller wheels reminded us of the Toyota Qualis. The Hector drives on 17 inch wheels with 215/ 60 R17 Goodyear Assurance tyres. The alloys are diamond cut and comes finished with dual-tone colour. The wheel arch has a squarish shape with plastic cladding surrounding the inner part. The running board also gets plastic cladding. The wing mirrors come with integrated LED turn signals on them along with the 360 degree camera. Windows get blacked out masking on the B, C and D-pillars. The roof gets the floating type design and also comes with silver coloured roof rails and a shark fin antenna. Panoramic sun roof is also a part of the equipment list on the top end Hector. The Hector sports a special ‘Internet Inside’ badging on the front left fender of Petrol variant, while the diesel Hector gets this on the boot lid.
The rear reminds us of the BMW, Audi’s and the Merc’s, its only when you look at the MG logo you realize that this is an MG car. The rear windshield is placed high with a rear spoiler and integrated LED stop lamp. The boot lid has a unique bulge with a sharp crease that runs across it. Slim design wraparound tail lights run across the boot lid from end to end, creating a unique sporty look at the rear. The rear bumper is finished in dual tone and also gets a plastic skid plate along with a extended red reflector. Overall the MG Hector is a handsome looking SUV.
The MG Hector comes with an all black interior theme with silver finished accents surrounding the air-con vents, gear knob, door handles and on the steering. The Hector gets its dashboard made partly of the soft touch material with white stitching on it.The MG Hector gets a full colour TFT LCD instrument cluster, which again is a first in its class. The tachometer needle runs uniquely in the opposite direction. The interiors get leather upholstery with white stitching giving the car a very sporty look. Both the front seats on the Diesel Hector are electrically adjustable, while the Petrol variant gets this only on the drivers seat, because, the underside holds the hybrid battery unit. The steering is leather wrapped and is multi-functional. The highlight of the interior is the massive 10.4 inch vertically stacked high resolution display unit. This unit comes integrated with an e-sim that keeps the car connected to the internet all the time. The best part in here is the voice command activation of various functions.
Even when the music is playing at high volume, the system is always listening and is smart enough to recognize and respond instantly to the voice commands. There is a list of almost 100 commands that can be activated via the voice control, for instance, turning On and Off the climate control, Open/ Close the sun roof, Turn On the navigation, change music volume etc. All this works flawlessly and effortlessly. Pre-installed apps come loaded on this system which include the Gaana App with premium membership, TomTom navigation app, pre-loaded music videos etc. The 8-speakers Infinity Audio sound system is one of the best in its class.
You also get a Fast charge USB port and Apple CarPlay with Android Auto on this system. The rear seat comes with three adjustable head rests, extra spacious and the floor board is totally flat, unlike its rivals which comes with a mild bump on the floor. The rear seat is 60:40 split with centre arm rest and it can also be reclined. Rear passengers also get AC vents placed between the driver and passenger seats. The boot lid can be electrically opened and shut with 6 levels of setup. Boot space stands at a segment best 587 litres. The spare tyre is placed under the body. We’re falling short of words while describing the number of features the MG Hector offers.
Engine – Transmission – Drive
The MG Hector is available in two engine options, a 2.0L Turbocharged Diesel with 170PS of power and 350Nm of torque, mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. This is the same engine that also powers the Jeep Compass and the Tata Harrier. The Petrol Hybrid Hector gets its power from a 1.5L Turbocharged Intercooled with belt starter generator. It produces 143PS of power and 250Nm of torque and is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. The Hybrid unit is a 48V system, that as per MG increases fuel efficiency by 12% and reduces CO2 emmision by 11%, this electric motor also gives an additional 20Nm of torque boost while taking off from a standstill.
While on our way to Coonoor from Coimbatore we drove the Petrol Hybrid MT. The Hybrid motor makes a constant whining noise on the move, which was more than noticeable. Power was more than enough on flat surfaces most of the time. However, the ghat sections needed constant gear changes to stay within the power band. The gear shift quality is excellent, clutch is light and the gear shifts are short and positive. Steering feedback is light at slow speeds and it weighs up pretty well on the move around 80kmph. However, as we reached the ghats, while cornering the steering felt pretty vague with minimal to no feedback from the tyres. But the Hector held its line with more than enough grip from the tyres which we thought were small, though slightly fatter tyres would’ve helped a lot.
The Diesel Hector felt more confidence inspiring as compared to the Petrol counterpart. Power delivery was impressive to say the least with well insulated engine noise all the way up to 4000rpm, beyond that it got gruffly. The gear shifts are again very smooth and positive with a light, progressive, but slightly snatching clutch behavior. The Clutch needs to be released gently while taking off from a standstill, which we got used to after a while. Ride quality is on the softer side with good comfort levels at most speeds. Suspension is well tuned and for our Indian roads. Overall, the car is very good to drive within the confines of the city and very well behaved at highway speeds.
The MG Hector comes with a long list of safety features that include 6 airbags, ESP, Traction control, Hill hold, ABS with EBD, Brake assist, 360 degree camera, tyre pressure monitering system, electric parking brake (on AT), front and rear parking sensors, ISOFIX child seat anchors.
With high stakes riding for MG on the Hector and this being their very first model for India it can be said that they have got their formula right in terms of packaging and loading the car to the brim. The Hector looks different and grabs attention, has the right bling factor that Indians like and is well balanced with two engine options, that also includes an advanced Petrol Hybrid, something that the segment has not seen yet. With the Hector, MG Motor surely has its path rightly set into India. We expect the MG Hector to be priced in the Rs 15 Lakh to Rs 20 Lakh price segment.
Review & Photography – Amit Shelar