MG Astor Test Drive Review
We do a detailed road test review of the MG Astor.
Car Tested: MG Astor; Road Test No. 1348; Test Location: Buddh International Circuit
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs 14 – 22 lakhs (est.)
The MG Astor is a great tech-packed compact SUV with a comfortable and premium cabin along with segment-first ADAS features
MG Motor is entering the hot compact SUV segment with their Astor, which is essentially an ICE version of the ZS. The MG Astor is about to enter the ring to wrestle it out with some well-established players like the Hyundai Creta and Kia Seltos, some underdogs like the Renault Duster and Nissan Kicks and some new entrants like the Volkswagen Taigun and Skoda Kushaq. What different does the Astor offer? We drove it on the Buddh International Circuit to find out.
Exteriors – If you have seen the MG ZS EV (which I’m sure most of you have), you’ll find Astor’s design to be familiar. The MG Astor gets some minor cosmetic enhancements that differentiate it from the ZS but otherwise, the vehicle looks very similar. The Astor also comes with a new grille which looks rather nice and gets new lights with better detailing too. The vehicle is shod with 17-inch wheels and is offered in Red, Orange, White, Silver and Black colours. The MG Astor is a good-looking car and the dimensions look very proportionate too.
Interiors – There is no doubt about the fact that the interior of the MG Astor is just class-leading. I was pleasantly surprised to see the quality of materials in the cabin and everything feels so nice to touch. There’s a truckload of soft-touch materials on the dashboard and door pads and the layout seems very nice ergonomically too. MG is offering three colour themes for the cabin – Ivory White, Dual Tone Sangria Red and Tuxedo Black and we got to sample the red one which felt very tasteful.
The Astor comes with more features than all of its rivals
Not only in terms of quality but also features, the Astor is ahead of all of its rivals. It gets a panoramic sunroof, heated ORVMs, 6-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat, automatic climate control, keyless go with push-button start, 80 connected car features and electrically adjustable and folding ORVMs. The vehicle comes loaded with a 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system which gets all the connectivity options and the sound quality from the stock speakers is also very nice. The infotainment has various menus to control different functions including the ADAS features and while the interface is user-friendly, the screen could have been slightly more responsive. The Astor also gets a 7-inch digital instrument cluster.
The MG Astor does miss out on features like front ventilated seats and even an auto-dimming IRVM. The vehicle gets 360-degree cameras but the quality of the cameras isn’t up to the mark and the display looks very low-res. The Astor also gets this AI Assistant which is a robot kind of figure that is placed on the dashboard. It swivels in the direction of the passenger who is speaking to it or giving commands and it responds to a variety of questions related to information on Wikipedia, jokes, general commands for the car’s features, etc. Good trick to keep kids entertained! The vehicle also gets a digital key feature wherein you can lock, unlock, and even start the car using your phone’s Bluetooth pairing. With this, you can leave the keys at home and this works a bit differently than the connected car features where you need a SIM card but with the digital key, everything works through Bluetooth.
The digital key allows one to unlock their car by pairing to their phone’s Bluetooth
The MG Astor has decent space on the inside. The front seats hold you tight and they are sized well too. The upholstery feels premium and the seats offer just the right amount of support. Space at the rear is decent too but under-thigh support felt lacking for tall passengers. You can squeeze in three passengers at the rear but the middle passenger will get limited legroom. The backrest of the rear seat is positioned at a comfortable angle. MG has optimised space in the cabin properly and the vehicle gets enough cubbyholes and bottle-holders throughout. The boot is shaped nicely but it’s not very big.
Performance – The MG Astor gets two petrol engines, the first one is a 1.5-litre NA petrol unit which makes 110 PS and 144 Nm and this engine is offered with either a 5-speed MT or a CVT. But, we didn’t get to sample this engine and what we drove was the 1.3-litre turbo petrol engine that delivers a healthy 140 HP and 220 Nm, complemented by a 6-speed torque converter. The turbo engine’s refinement is just about decent and it does feel noisy in the cabin. Mind you, this is a 3-cylinder engine.
Apart from the minor turbo lag lower down, the turbo engine performs well, however, MG is not offering the Astor with a diesel engine
Lower down the RPM band, the engine does seem to suffer from some lag but it starts feeling brisk and responsive once the turbo starts spooling. The Astor has a good punch in the mid-range and we had no issues doing as much as 170 km/hr on the BIC. However, performance again starts tapering off in the top-end. The 6-speed TC also does a fair job with its gearshifts but we are looking forward to testing the vehicle on local roads. The Astor doesn’t get paddle-shifters or different driving modes but the gearbox does have an S mode and a manual tiptronic mode.
ADAS Features – The MG Astor comes with a host of ADAS features and we got a chance to sample most of them except Automatic Emergency Braking and Forward Collision Warning. I first had a go at Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist and Lane Departure Prevention. These features work at speeds above 60 km/hr and their only aim is to keep the vehicle going in the same lane. When the vehicle senses that it is slowly moving out of the land, the LDW will show a warning on the instrument cluster with a beep. Meanwhile, LDP will ensure that the vehicle auto-steers itself back into the lane if it senses that it is moving towards the borders of the lane and LKA will ensure that the vehicle is always in the middle of the lane. We also tested the Speed Alert feature wherein the car reads speed warnings on roads and shows the same on the instrument cluster. The Astor also has Lane Change Assist which means that if you’re looking to change lanes and have your turn indicator on, an orange light in the respective IRVM will blink if there’s a car coming from that side. The Blind Spot Assist feature works similarly too and in this, the orange warning light on the IRVM continuously stays on if a vehicle is approaching even if your indicators aren’t switched on. These features work above 30 km/hr. Finally, we tried the Rear Cross Traffic Alert feature in which if your car is in reverse, you’ll see a red warning on the reverse camera display if a vehicle or person is approaching your car.
Driving Dynamics – The MG Astor gets three steering modes – Urban, Dynamic and Normal. In Urban mode, the steering feels very light and doesn’t offer a lot of feel. This mode is suited for city driving. In Dynamic, the steering does weigh up well and offers a slightly better feel. We used both modes while driving on the track and could feel some difference. Normal mode is a balance between the other two modes. The MG Astor isn’t a sharp handler like the VW Taigun or Skoda Kushaq but it does drive decently and offers good confidence. The vehicle has a soft suspension setup which results in body roll on the corners but we couldn’t test the ride quality properly on the track. The vehicle gets rear disc brakes and the stopping power felt confident.
Safety & Service – The MG Astor is equipped with 6 airbags, ABS with EBD, Traction Control and Hill Descent Control apart from the ADAS features. MG Motor entered India a little over two years back and the automaker has set up touch-points in major cities in India and while they currently do not have a reach as wide as say someone like Hyundai, the company is steadily expanding its footprint in the country.
Verdict – The MG Astor is a very promising car because it looks good, packs in a beautiful interior with a ton of features and drives decently too. Yes, it does miss out on some equipment and doesn’t get a diesel engine though. Knowing MG, we’re expecting a very attractive price at least for the lower variants because this will be slotted below the Hector in the company’s line-up, while the top variants could be slightly pricier than rivals due to all the ADAS tech. However, as long as the vehicle doesn’t feel very over-priced, we feel MG will have another winner on their hands with this one.
What’s Not So Cool
Alternatives – Hyundai Creta, Kia Seltos, VW Taigun, Skoda Kushaq, Nissan Kicks
Further Reading –