MG Hector Review
Car Tested: MG Hector; Road Test No. 1107; Test Location: Coimbatore
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 14.42 - 20.47 lakhs
With advanced connectivity options, eye-catching looks and spacious interiors, the MG Hector is an ultra-modern SUV
India is expected to be the world's third largest passenger car market by 2021. It seems that everyone wants a piece of that big cake. It is not only new cars that are crowding our market but also new brands that are coming into the picture. Morris Garages or MG wants to be amongst the first to the party. The company is all set to launch its much-awaited Hector SUV in the coming weeks. The Hector promises to be more than just another SUV in the crowded lot. MG is betting big with the Hector's performance, comfort, efficiency and safety aspects. Can it deliver on those counts and make a less known brand a household name? Time to hit the road and find the answers.
Motor Quest: Morris Garages, best known by its initials MG, is a famous British marque founded in 1924. The brand was famed for making small two-door sports cars. MG had a rough ride and after a stint with numerous owners, the vanishing brand was purchased by Nanjing Automotive Group in 2006 before merging into Shanghai-based SAIC in 2011. Since then, MG has focussed on mass-market SUVs and sedans.
Exteriors - The Hector is positioned to take on the likes of the Jeep Compass and Tata Harrier. Road presence matters in this segment and the Hector has some of it. The front is beefy looking with many interesting details. The massive chrome lined grille with a big MG logo is really the design highlight. The Hector follows the trend of having two units for the headlights. The one above are DRLs that also double up as indicators and the unit below is the actual headlamp. The headlamp has striking chrome ornamentation surrounding it.
The Hector looks musuclar, sharp, futuristic and has a lot of road presence
The side is less impressive. It has a few character lines but the slab-sided profile, square wheel arches and noticeably small wheels give the Hector a decidedly MPV look taking away some of the wow factors. The blackened C-pillar and the kink in the window line don't do much to change that perception. At the rear, the continuously running strip of tail light grabs your attention. The design is well executed and we like the beefy bumper with silver garnish with the visible exhausts.
If we compare the exterior of the MG Hector to the Tata Harrier, then the former is longer and taller than the latter while the Harrier is wider than the Hector. The Hector's wheelbase is also longer than the Harrier. However, the design is not as impactful as the Harrier's but it isn't too bland either. We seriously wish the wheels were a size or two larger.
Interiors - Ingress and egress are easy in the Hector and if you think the layout of the dashboard is familiar, we don't blame you. The centre of attraction is the large 10.4-inch vertically mounted infotainment screen nestled between the large AC vents. The placement of the screen, the vents and the buttons look similar to that in a lot of Volvos.
The Hector's infotainment system is like a big smartphone offering advanced connectivity features and voice control
The infotainment screen is the deal with this MG. This is one of the first ‘Connected' cars to come to our market. MG offers Machine to Machine SIM which is 5G ready, gets over-the-air updates like your smartphones so you will get your apps updated when the updates come; an advanced voice assistant which cranks up when you say ‘Hello MG'; ‘E-Call' feature that calls the emergency services in case of a serious accident, premium subscription to Gaana music streaming app and the i-SMART Next Gen mobile app that lets you know your vehicle setting and other things. This is truly unseen in cars of this segment and in the tech-savvy generation of today, we are confident MG has a USP.
The infotainment screen is crisp and easy to respond. The graphics are neat and the lag is minimal. We tried a few connected features and they worked well. The large size and vertical orientation makes accessing the menus and viewing maps a breeze. MG has also paired the infotainment system with a premium Infinity sound system with 4 speakers and 4 tweeters.
Most of the physical buttons have been replaced by buttons on the large infotainment screen
The touch interface means most of the physical buttons are gone. This gives the dashboard a clean and minimalistic look. The quality is good but not exceptional. Some plastics are hard and tacky and better fit would've been welcome. These shortcomings are not deal breakers and the interiors do the job of delivering on that premium feel.
Most of it is down to the details and the equipment on offer. We love the sharp design of the door handles and the AC vents on the extreme ends. The instrument cluster with anti-clockwise tachometer is unique. The steering is large but easy to grip and the sea of buttons is not really a bother once you figure out which does what.
The cabin has an airy feel to it and space is also very good
The equipment is generous. Powered front seats, reclining rear seats, panoramic sunroof, 360-degree camera, fast charging socket, ambient lightning are part of the kit on the top variant. The base variants do not skimp on the essentials. Space is humongous and all the five passengers are likely to be seated very comfortably. The power operated boot is impressively large at 587-litres. Well laid out, very well equipped and incredibly spacious, Hector's cabin has enough to please.
Performance - The Hector gets both petrol and diesel power options. The 2.0-litre diesel is the FCA-sourced MultiJet engine which also powers its two main competitors, the Tata Harrier and the Jeep Compass. Although power and torque are pretty decent on paper, (170 PS at 3750 RPM & 350 NM at 1750-2500 RPM) it is the turbo lag which tends to dent the performance of this engine. In the city, drivability is compromised as the turbo takes time to spool up. The turbo sings its song post-2000 RPM after which the performance is nothing short of brilliant. There is good punch from the mid-range and power does tend to fade at the high end of the rev band. This engine revs all the way to 5000 RPM and does get very vocal at this point. Cruising on the highway is simply effortless as the 6-speed manual transmission has well spaced out ratios. MG is currently not offering the Hector with a diesel automatic option even though the Compass just got a 9-speed in the Trailhawk and the Harrier is soon slated to get a 6-speed torque converter. We expect this engine to return a fuel economy of around 14 km/l which is probably the best in the segment.
Post 2000 RPM, the diesel engine delivers excellent performance and is the most fuel-efficient in its segment
The petrol powered Hector comes in 3 configurations, with the hybrid, without the hybrid and with a 6-speed DCT. We had a chance to get behind the wheel of the Hybrid variant. The same 1.5-litre gasoline motor does duty on all the petrol versions. It churns out 143 PS at 5000 RPM and 250 Nm of twisting force from 1600-3600 RPM. Even the Hybrid version has the same output. Turns out that the Hybrid uses E-Boost technology and Regenerative braking along with Stop/Start to improve the fuel economy by 12% without any change to the power and torque figures. This engine is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission which offers slick shifts but tends to get a bit notchy when you want to shift in a hurry. Same is the case with the gearbox in the diesel. The petrol Hector suffers from a greater lag than the diesel and drivability isn’t great below 2000 RPM. But once the turbo spools up, this engine really comes alive. The mid-range and top end are really strong and this engine loves to be revved. It tops out at 6000 RPM and has a very vocal and racy note to it. We haven’t sampled the DCT yet but will do it soon. This engine should return around 11-12 km/l in the real world.
Driving Dynamics - The steering feel is similar with both the petrol and diesel cars. It is very light, which means that moving around in the city is very comfortable, however, it doesn't weigh up as much as you would like when you pick up speed. So out on the highway, the steering isn't as confidence inspiring. Our blast around the twisties was a testimony to the fact, having said that, it is neutral for most. Only enthusiasts would prefer a more feedback-rich steering. Being a heavy car, there is a fair amount of body roll but it is in control.
Ride quality is magnificent and body roll is felt but is well-contained for its weight
Ride quality is what we loved the most and the Hector does know how to keep passengers comfortable both at high and low speeds. In fact, the ride quality is so good that you would love to take this car on bad roads intentionally. However, on really bad roads, there is some amount of vertical movement from the suspension but it is well controlled. The Hector performs well under braking and the rear disc brakes ensure that things are in control at all times.
Safety - At the unveil of the vehicle, MG made it clear that they are upping the ante with safety. Base variants get 2 airbags along with ABS, EBD, ESP and ISOFIX child seat anchorages. The top variant gets 6 airbags. MG is also promising a strong body structure which has the potential to excel in the upcoming crash norms. We can't really comment on MG's after-sales and reliability because the brand is still new in India so we'll have to wait and watch.
Verdict - The Hector is a very important car for MG as it marks its entry into India and thus MG is going all out to ensure that it will appeal to potential customers. Yes, both engines have some turbo lag and the steering could be more feedback rich but if you look beyond that, there are a lot of smart technology and features on offer. Besides, the infotainment system and the panoramic sunroof by itself should be enough to attract the customers. However, it will ultimately boil down to pricing. This is a very competitive segment and if MG has to make an impression, it has to go very aggressive when it comes to pricing. If priced right, we reckon the Hector is sure to find many takers.
* Imposing looks
* Feature-loaded interiors with smart connectivity options
* Spacious cabin along with large boot
* Fuel-efficient diesel engine
What's Not So Cool
* Wheels could have been a size bigger
* Quality of materials used could have been better
* Light steering isn't very confidence-inspiring
Alternatives: - Tata Harrier, Jeep Compass, Mahindra XUV500
MG Hector Specifications
* Engine: 1451cc, 4-Cyl, Petrol/Petrol-Hybrid | 1956cc, 4-Cyl, Diesel
* Power: 143 PS @ 5000 RPM | 170 PS @ 3750 RPM
* Torque: 250 Nm @ 1600-3600 RPM | 350 Nm @ 1750-2500 RPM
* Transmission: 6-Speed MT, 6-Speed DCT | 6-Speed MT
* Fuel Consumption: 14.16 km/l (P MT), 13.96 km/l (P DCT), 15.81 km/l (P Hybrid), 17.41 km/l (D)
* Fuel Type: Petrol | Diesel
* Tyre Size: 215/60/17 (Front & Rear)
* Suspension: McPherson Strut (Front), Semi-Independant (Rear)
* Brakes: Disc (Front & Rear)
* Safety: 6 Airbags, ABS with EBD, ESP
MG Hector Dimensions
* Overall length x width x height: 4655 mm X 1835 mm X 1760 mm
* Wheelbase: 2750 mm
* Ground Clearance: 192 mm
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 60-litres
* Boot Space: 587-litres
Further Reading -
MG Hector Review
The MG Hector is an impressive SUV when you take into the account the comfort, space and features on offer. The pricing is likely to be very aggressive too. However, the Hector isn’t very engaging to drive and its service experience is something that remains to be seen.