MG Hector Road Test: Next Big Thing in Indian Market?
- Published On: 17 June 2019
- 10 min read
MG Motor or Morris Garages is a British brand that is now under the control of SAIC or the Shanghai Automotive and Industrial Corporation that is based out of, you guessed it, China! But this mix of cultures seems to be working for the company in India.
MG Motor or Morris Garages is a British brand that is now under the control of SAIC or the Shanghai Automotive and Industrial Corporation that is based out of, you guessed it, China! But this mix of cultures seems to be working for the company in India. With showrooms in key cities ready and functional, it's time to bring you a review of their first offering for India, the Hector.
To be priced in the Rs 13-18 lakh (ex-showroom) bracket, the Hector will lock horns with the likes of the Tata Harrier, Jeep Compass and the Mahindra XUV500. Does it pack in enough armor to defeat all these rivals? To answer this big question and understand the car better, we drove it from Coimbatore to the scenic hill station of Coonoor and back and this is what we have to say about it!
The design part
The MG Hector is a striking looking SUV, one that will easily turn more heads than what you bargained for. There is no denying the fact that this is one area where MG has done a perfect job in terms of styling. The front is aggressive and modern and those lovely slim DRLs or daytime running lights steal the show once on the road. The front end has another highlight and that is the huge grille - this lends a bold stance and makes sure it looks striking in the rear-view mirror of other cars on the road.
Side profile is more of an MPV than a SUV - the shoulder rise remains flat, tyres could have been taller and windows are quite big by segment standard - however, these do make the interiors feel airy but more this later. The 17-inch alloy wheels have a good design but fall short in terms of height. Given the generous dimensions of the Hector, 19-inch wheels would have looked far better.
The rear of the Hector is another highlight. No, I am not just referring to the LED tail lights or the way the indicators work but also the clever horizontal glass area that connects both the lights at either ends. The execution works very well. The bumper is another highlight and looks way sporty for the Hector. Designers have given it a dual exhaust theme but only the left tip has the actual outlet.
In terms of dimensions, the Hector is the longest car in the segment, even longer than the 7-seater XUV500. It is wider than the Compass and taller than the Harrier.
A car that has the longest wheelbase in the segment ought to offer incredible amount of space on the inside. Step inside the 2nd row and you realize this immediately. Even with the front seats positioned for tall adults, there is space at the back for you to cross your legs easily. Further, the floor board is flat which means the third passenger doesn’t have to worry about his leg space. The seats offer a 60:40 split and can be reclined back individually by a good amount. What makes the rear really good is the glass area - the cabin feels roomy and if you are taking the higher spec model with panoramic sunroof, things will be even better!
In terms of features you get a rear air vents, seat pockets and even a fast charging outlet. But its only when you shift to the front seats do you realize the loaded feature list. From keyless entry with start-stop to powered (both) seats, you also get a touch-screen that's bigger than most tablets, a large TFT screen in the speedometer console, voice commands and the i-Smart tech. A lot has been discussed about this so we will keep this short and simple.
The Hector is a modern day ‘connected’ car and you can control a lot of things from the mobile app. This includes starting the car remotely (for auto options) or even opening the boot lid. Likewise, the infotainment system comes preloaded with the Gaana app, TomTom navigation and you also get a 360-degree camera view in here. The only things missing here in my opinion are wireless charging and ventilated seats.
In terms of comfort, the seats are spot on. Though under thigh support is just above average, the back rest is superb and offers good bolstering too. Visibility is another highlight and even short drivers will not have an issue piloting the Hector in traffic.
Before we move to the boot, let me add that the quality of materials used on the inside is pretty good. Save for a panel here and there, the Hector’s cabin turns to be more premium than the XUV500’s. Icing on the cake is the fab audio quality from the Infinity set-up. Why can’t other players follow a similar solution?
Being a 5-seater, the boot of the Hector is huge. At almost 600 liters of space, it beats all its rivals hands down. Further, the power functions makes life so much easier for an owner. The boot by the way can be opened in four way - from the mobile app, the key fob, from the button located on the right side of the steering and of course from the boot release mechanic on the boot itself.
The engine options
As expected, the Hector comes a choice of two fuel types, petrol and diesel. The petrol further comes with two options include a hybrid set-up that we drove. The 1.5-litre turbocharged engine is coupled to a 48V mild hybrid set-up that ends up offering as much as 20 Nm of torque boost when required. Plus, it reduces emissions and increases fuel economy. In fact, the Hector hybrid has a certified economy of almost 16 kmpl that is much as the XUV500 diesel!
In spite of being a small capacity turbo mill, the Hector petrol does not exhibit any kind of turbo lag. Again, the hybrid set up comes to the rescue in the form of extra torque when needed. Power delivery is linear without any unwanted push-in-the-seat power or torque flow. This coupled with a gear box that has smooth shifts makes the Hector a good urban vehicle. Talking of which, the Hector petrol hybrid is offered with a 6-speed manual gearbox and the auto is reserved for the non-hybrid version only.
The diesel Hector comes with a tried and tested 2.0-litre diesel motor that is sourced from the FCA group. The same engine also powers the Jeep Compass and the Tata Harrier. In here, it makes 173 PS of power and a healthy dose of torque at 350 Nm. As expected, NVH levels are remarkable and even when revving the guts out of the diesel mill, vibrations are well under control. And like the petrol motor, turbo lag is minimal and power deliver is very linear. This just makes every day driving such an easy affair. Part throttle response works well and closing in on gaps in traffic does not always call for down shifts. Talking of which, unlike the petrol Hector, the gearshift quality on the diesel is just about average. But it makes up in terms of fuel economy, delivering 17.4 kmpl as per certification. In contrast, the Harrier and XUV500 deliver 16.7 and 16 kmpl as per ARAI certification.
Ride and handling
If you are an enthusiast and looking for grinning moments, look elsewhere. This is a large SUV, one that aims to provide a comfortable drive for its occupants. The 17-inch wheels that otherwise look puny end up absorbing undulations rather well thanks to a tall side wall. And the suspension too is clearly geared towards comfort and this is not a bad thing. You want a dynamically sorted SUV? Get the Jeep Compass. But for most others, the Hector will keep them smiling. Usual road undulations and even speed breakers are dealt with ease and the vehicle retains its composure at triple digit speeds too.
That is till you hit a set of twisties. The Hector does exhibit body roll and it takes time getting used to it. The steering doesn't feel that connected and you have to be careful with your inputs. But let's be honest - no one drives a large SUV enthusiastically, right?
The brakes do need a special mention - you get discs all around and the Hector sheds speeds without much drama.
The only piece missing in the entire puzzle is the pricing that should be out anytime now. If MG can price this between Rs 12-17 lakh or Rs 13-18 lakh ex-showroom, they will definitely have a winner on their hands. What's more the company has unofficially told us that the car will come with a tempting warranty and maintenance package. Bring it on guys!