The Astor becomes MG Motor’s 4th car model for India since it set shop here in 2019. The Astor also becomes their first car to come with innovative Artificial intelligence (AI) assist. We head to the Buddh International Circuit to get behind the wheels of the MG Astor to check out how intelligent actually the SUV is.
Food for thought – The Astor is based on the ZS EV and shares a lot of its underpinnings with it. The SUV comes with 80 plus connected car features which now is the most to be loaded to any car here in India. The Astor is the largest car in its class in terms of Length Width Height as compared to the Hyundai Creta and the Kia Seltos that rule the segment.
In terms of exteriors the MG Astor looks a lot like the recently face lifted ZS EV. The face of the Astor reminds a lot of the Jaguar F-Pace. Upfront you get the Star Burst Celestial grill with chrome dots and a thick brushed metal border. The large sized MG logo sits in the middle of the grille. The sharp styled headlights come with all with all white LED glow and a boomerang shape DRL eyebrow, you also get 9 jewel like inserts inside the headlight assembly. The front bumper comes with rounded edges and some sharp lines in the middle, black inserts around the round fog lamps and also a nice looking faux skid plate enhancing the SUV look.
Coming to the sides you get black fibre cladding around the round wheel arches and the running board again enhancing the overall brute SUV look of the Astor. The sides also get chrome treatment around the glass area, door handles and the roof rail too. Wing mirrors get body coloured housing along with LED turn lights. The Astor drives on 255 spec 17 inch tyres mounted on dual color petal shaped alloys. The roof also gets a full panoramic glass roof and a shark fin antenna.
The rear profile of the Astor is as striking as the front and the sides with the ASTOR branding in chrome in the middle of the boot lid, ADAS branding in red and the ZS badge too reminding you that it hails from that family. You get rear roof spoiler, boot lid opening MG logo, all LED wrap around Tail lamps with jewel glow. The rear bumper gets infused stop reflectors with black inserts around them. The bumper also comes with a nice looking faux skid plate and twin faux exhausts placed on the outer edges here.
Step inside the Astor and you are instantly welcomed by a rich and premium looking cabin area. You have an option of three interior color to choose from between the Red, black and ivory. We drove the Astor with the red interior which comes with some premium faux padded leather wrapping on the dash, door pads, center console, the top section of the dash is finished in black made of some soft rubber material that looks and feels like a premium car does. There also is metal inserts on the dash and the door pads increasing the overall rich feel inside the Astor. The AC vents get near turbine design with metal inserts giving them a premium look and feel.
The center console gets a 10 inch AVN touch screen system that is also seen on the Hector. This AVN system comes with all the connectivity features which includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, FM radio etc. The unique highlight of the AVN system is the inbuilt Jio E-Sim that MG has tied up with. This system also comes with Jio Saavn app for music streaming, Park Plus for Pre booking ur parking space, Map my India for 4D GPS navigation and Koinkonnect which monitors your driving style and helps you lower your car Insurance premium accordingly.
The biggest highlight of the Astors dash is the AI Astor device with a LCD screen placed on the centre dash. This unit comes with an customisable animated face on it and it’s head turns towards you when you talk to it. You can ask questions, listen to jokes, give in car control commands etc all using voice commands and the device answers back to you in voice.
The Climate control is a single zone unit with neat looking control buttons placed just under the AVN screen. The Astor comes with 2 USB charging ports and one power socket. We missed the wireless charging on the Astor. The gear shifter gets leather wrapping and metal inserts on it while the surrounds come with faux carbon fiber styling and metal band finishing it. You get electro mechanical hand brake along with auto hold placed besides the shifter. Leather padded wrapping around the centre console makes it look like a Italian or German sports car for sure. The Astor comes with a three spoke flat bottom steering with leather wrapping and metal inserts on it. You also get MFD buttons placed on it and it gets manual adjust for height and reach. The instrument cluster is an color display screen which is very colourful and clear to read all the tell tales and information displayed on it. The seats get dual tone leather upholstery with hand stitching. The drivers seat gets all electric adjust while what we missed is the inclusion of ventilated seats. Seats offer excellent support and comfort and the seating position is very commanding. The rear seats get three adjustable headrests and also a folding center arm rest with cup holders to enhance comfort. Leg room, head room, knee room and shoulder room is abundant here and the seating position is very good. The middle passenger will feel the centre floor bump though. The rear passengers also get rear AC vents and two USB charge ports.
The glass roof let’s in loads of light into the cabin and makes it look a lot more larger and roomy. The Astor comes with a boot capacity of 475 liters which easily swallow’s up 4 medium sized bags. The boot gets a wide loading aperture too.
Engine – Transmission – Drive
The MG Astor is only available powered with petrol engine options for now. You have the 1.5L 4 cylinder NA engine that makes 110PS of power and 144NM of torque mated to either a 5-speed manual or a 8-speed CVT automatic. The second engine option is the one we drove which is a 1.4L Turbo Petrol engine that makes 140PS of power and 220Nm of torque. This engine comes mated to an automatic transmission only.
On the move the Turbo Petrol engine feels highly spirited and eager to be revved. Refinement levels are high and the cabin feels highly insulated at all times. The smooth engine is fun to drive while the automatic transmission does feel a tad bit slow while shifting and we would have loved a DCT dual clutch transmission in place. But never the less of you belt the Astor around the car does it’s job pretty well.
The steering feedback is good and can be altered too by using the preset modes – Urban for city, Dynamic for sporty and Balanced for daily drive. The steering feedback changes as per the modes. The overall ride quality is pretty top class with the suspension tuned for our road conditions.
The MG Astor comes with ADAS which I makes it Autonomous Level 2 vehicle. We tested The Bosch sourced ADAS features that work using mid range radars and cameras that include adaptive cruise control that can alter the speed of your car automatically sensing the car ahead of you and also brake of the car in front has braked. Front collision warning where the car warns you if there is something in front of you.
Emergency braking feature comes into picture if you don’t brake even after the warning given by the car and that’s when it stops on its own. Lane keeping assist feature works when you are over 60kmph and you move out of your lane this is when the car tells you to get back into the lane.
If you activate the Lane departure prevention system the steering will automatically steer the car back into the lane where you drifted out from. You also have the lane assist feature where the steering gets some amount of resistance if you cut lanes. You also get Intelligent headlamps that alter the beam intensity as per need, rear drive assist which warms you of any oncoming vehicle while you are reversing, speed assist warning which reads the speed signs on the road and automatically follows them by reducing the speed of you are above it to name a few. We tested mostly all the features and each one of them worked flawlessly offering complete safety for the occupants of the Astor.
The MG Astor competes against the heavyweights like the Creta and the Seltos and has to very strong battle lined up. It does drive well and feels premium especially the interiors. What it does not offer is a diesel option but what it offers that the competition does not offer is class leading ADAS safety features and level 2 Autonomous features that put it in a different league making it a perfect buy for someone who needs a car that is high on technology and future ready even today. Oh and yes you are never alone in the Astor even if you are driving it alone you have the mini Astor to chat with all the time.
Words – Ritesh Madhok
Photography & Video – Govind Gadekar
Editing – Bhushan Joshi