MG Hector: The “smartest” car

Hello MG, Tell us about yourself.

I have been named as the Hector, after a World war II aircraft. I am the first car for MG in India. I will either make or break their fortunes in this sub-continent. I come from a family called SAIC Motor corporation, one of the biggest Chinese manufacturers, my ancestors are from the Great Britain though. There have been numerous spy shots of me over the internet and apparently, I am the most anticipated car in India for this year. In a country where people swear by Maruti and Hyundai, I am here to compete against few established segment leaders who have been ruling this country for ages like the XUV 5OO, Jeep Compass and of course, the Tata Harrier with whom I will be compared more than any Indian kid would ever have been. A lot of them criticise me for my Chinese badge, but I am here to prove them wrong. (And, she has done it, in style. Hector becomes the highest selling SUV in its segment in July ’19) 

I am smart enough to open the sunroof for you

I can set the temperature for you

I can play your favorite track of Bryan Adams or Arijit Singh

But, please do not expect to have a Siri-like conversation with me.

A new-kid-on-the-block enters the most dynamic auto market in the World and takes the country by storm. A storm so intense that MG has stopped accepting the bookings of this car after receiving an enormous 21,000 bookings in the first month.

But, question of the hour remains, what is making people drool over this car? Although its not the perfect car to Drive, why is it selling like the cappuccinos of CCD? 

Let’s find out!

Likes:

+ 170 bhp & 350 nm torque on the diesel is adequate for your daily dosage of vitamin Drive

+ Built like a tank. Super heavy doors and bonnet. MG should offer free Gym membership with this car

+ Lot of real estate for its $$$

+ Smartest SUV in its segment. Feature loaded to the brim and more

+ Definitely, the most VFM proposition in the car shopping market. It’s here to displace the segment.

Dislikes: 

–  It suffers from ECD (Excessive Chrome Disorder)

– Boxy wheel arches are disproportionate to the overall design and make the 17-inch wheels look small

– Gearshifts are hard with long throws. Surprisingly, in the diesel only

– NVH levels aren’t impressive inside the cabin. Thankfully, the superb infinity speakers come to the rescue.

– Unfortunately, the Electronic power steering lacks feedback. Wish MG could transfer some weight from the doors to steering.

How does it look? 

The Hector is Big, Audacious and very very aggressive. This is why you want to buy an SUV at its first place. Let’s not talk about compact SUV’s. While the front is amazing the rear is overdone by a huge margin. If you love bling, the Hector is your new best friend. 

If You love paparazzi, the Hector is still for you. The Hector is certainly a head-turner and it drew quite an audience everywhere and every time we stopped for photos in the lush green Nilgiris from Coimbatore to Coonoor. The front fascia has lots of interesting detailing and follows the current trend where the headlight cluster is placed down at bumper level with the LED DRLs sitting above where the lights typically should be (First seen in the Tata Harrier). The humongous grille, which you just can’t miss, feels big and Jaguar-like, that’s the primary reason why the stance is extremely imposing. The quirky and striking DRLs further add to the mafia look. There’s a good dose of chrome, in front and overdose in the rear. The prominent air intake in the lower bumper complements the mafia look of the Hector.

However, what badly needed a fix are the 215/60 tyres and 17-inch wheels, which have a nice, edgy design but are overshadowed by the Hector’s humungous 4,655mm length, 1,760mm height and large overhangs. In fact, it’s from the side that you get an idea of how long the Hector is. It looks a size bigger than the Harrier and the Compass, though the proportions are not quite as balanced – the width is too narrow in relation to the length. This results in the Hector looking loosing its SUV-ish stance to an MPV-ish. I really wish the side profile wasn’t as bad as it is. Small design cues like curved wheel arches instead of the boxy and an inch upgrade to the alloys would have done a much better job to the car. At-least the alloys could have been designed one-level sober. 

What stands out at the rear is the overdone scuff plate It has so much chrome that it would satisfy your hunger for chrome for the rest of your life. At the rear, there is a long running strip of tail light that grabs your attention instantly. I am not a huge fan of it though. It dilutes the premium-ness of the car. Not a good idea. I sent a picture of the tail lights to my friend and asked him to guess the car and he told its a Q3. Nevertheless, he hadn’t seen a Hector. The rear of this car is way too butchy to be digested by the human eye. It somehow doesn’t give a pleasing effect like the Seltos does. For sure, someone has messed up things in the design department. 

Again, I did not like the quirky design of the C-pillar and the chrome line lifting up suddenly. Anyways, design is subjective

For some reason best known to God, the rear looks less dramatic in black:

What’s on the inside? 

Once you open the massive doors and step in, you might mistake it for a Volvo XC 60.

The star-boy of the Hector, the massive 10.4 inch infotainment screen will look very familiar to you if you have sat inside any of the Volvo SUV’s. What I really loved about the infotainment system is that its super responsive, unlike the swedish house, the Volvo. Its big, its neat, its crisp and its easy to use. Just the way you want it to be. In fact, I wouldn’t shy away from terming it as one of the best Infotainment system found in any Indian car. You will hardly find any buttons because the massive screen has eaten up all the real estate. On the contrary, some believe that its not a wise idea to have all the functionalities embedded in the touch-screen infotainment system as it can prove to be a safety hazard while driving. You got to be careful on that part though.

Hello, MG! 

If you are tech savvy and love to control the car with some interesting voice commands, the Hector is tailored for you. 

“I want to see the Sky” Say this and the Hector will open its massive Panoramic sunroof for you.

“Hello MG, Can you turn on the AC for me?” Sorted.

MG is calling the Hector India’s first Internet car. The MG Hector is a connected car that gets an embedded Sim from Airtel. This sim helps MG Hector get various connectivity features and you can use the iSMART app on your mobile to remotely control functions on your car like remotely starting the car or pushing the map. Even the KIA Seltos gets this now.

MG has also partnered with many technology companies to provide various connectivity solutions with the iSMART technology. Apps like Gaana for listening to your favourite music, Accuweather for weather updates are preinstalled and TomTom for navigation. MG will collaborate with more vendors in the coming days.

The best part about the Hector is the brilliant cabin quality it offers for its price. It can give cars much costlier a run for their money. This also extends to the dashboard, be it the clean design, the subtle chrome accents or the splashes of leather and white contrasting stitches. The solid and stubby gear lever also feel pleasing to use. The materials feel tough and even the shut lines are consistent, on the inside. What left me impressed for a very long time is the build quality of this car. The doors and bonnet are so heavy that you really need to put that extra effort to get things sorted. MG should offer free Gym membership with this car. 

Another thing that left me super impressed was the astonishing sound quality from the infinity speakers. That being said, the infotainment system is also very intuitive to operate and is the largest of its kind with 10.4-inch screen size. I do not, I repeat I do not remember if I have seen a car with such a superb sound clarity anytime before. The music system alone is going to bring the cash register ringing for the Morris Garages in India. 

In terms of features, the MG Hector is loaded to the brim with features like tyre pressure monitoring system, powered tailgate, electronically adjustable front seats, panoramic sunroof, ambient lighting, 360-view camera and more.

Capturing some finer details of the MG Hector’s inside world:

Notice the quirky tachometer reading. I am not a big fan of it.  It took me some time to get used to it:

The quality of materials used inside the cabin is Premium. It may not be compared to that of the VW but this is on par with the Koreans:

Loved the contrasting stitches:

A closer look at the perforated steering grip:

The Hector gets electronic boot release: 

Build quality of the stacks is good. Could have been better though:

Loved this. The scrollers are so premium. You also get the cruise control:

Space and Practicality

The Hector is as spacious as you would want your 5 seater SUV to be. Period. 

The front seats are very supportive. Offer good under-thigh support. I drove the entire day in the lush green hills of Ooty and some cumbersome streets, not roads. Never did my back hurt as it would in the so-called-plush XUV 5OO.

The seats on the top-spec variant come wrapped in leather and offer good cushioning as well. The front seats are power-adjustable; 6-way adjustable on the driver side and 4-way adjustable on the front passenger seats. The seats themselves offer good lateral, thigh and lumbar support, providing a relaxed driving position, even for long highway cruising.

The rear seats also continue the same theme, with excellent thigh support and cushioning all around. There is sufficient headroom and legroom even for tall passengers. The flat floor at the rear, allows three passengers to sit comfortably with good legroom for all. There is also a central armrest with two cup holders at the rear, further adding to the relaxed seating position even for the rear passengers. 

In terms of boot space, the MG Hector comes with a massive 587-litre with all seats positioned upright. The rear seats can also be folded in a 60:40 split, which expands the boot space even further. 

The Hector has typical storage options like the centre cup holders, bottle holders and decent space to store your nick-nacks. When you only have two passengers at the rear, there is the chunky arm rest to make the journey even more comfortable.

If I had to pick one car to turn it into a Limo, Hector would be my first choice. A black one, to be precise. looks drop-dead Gorgeous in that shade. 

Internet Inside?

The only reason I felt that the quality is not on par with the VW is because of the panel gaps, like the one above.

A sticker for ‘Internet inside’ would have done the trick. Ambitious MG:

The Hector uses a SIM to keep the car connected to MG’s servers, through which many features like tacking the current location of your car, geofencing it (You will get an in-app notification once the car crosses that perimeter), remote engine start  and many others can be operated. However, in our books, the key benefits are served by the iCall feature that allows emergency services to contact you instantly in case of an accident in which airbags are deployed. I really love this one. The iSmart phone app also allows you to check on the Hector and shares a lot of useful information. However, the inconsistency in operating features or commands from the app makes it less of a tool and more of a gimmick

How does it Drive?

 

If you are a petrol-head and want to buy the Hector to have a brilliant driving experience, stop reading this right away. The Hector is not for you. The steering offers minimal feedback. I would say its just better than most of the anti-driver-friendly Hyundai’s. The Hector is a really long car with very short width, hence, body roll is in its DNA. But, it’s not as bad as the first gen Toyota Fortuner. That Fortuner had the worst body roll a car could have. I drove the Hector in some really twisty ghats of Nilgiris, it did not toss me off completely from my seat. It just did not strike the right balance between ride and handling.

The Hector is rich in Vitamin T. Unfortunately, T for Turbo-lag. The Hector gets both petrol and diesel power options. The 2.0-litre diesel is the FCA-sourced MultiJet engine which also powers the Tata Harrier and the Jeep Compass. The turbo kicks in post-2000 RPM after which the car just gets ready to fly!! There is good punch from the mid-range and power does tend to maximise after redlining it. This engine revs all the way to 4900 RPM and does uncontrollably loud at this point. Couple this with some serious high speeds, its a party spoiler. Nevertheless, cruising on the highway at speeds of 100 kph is simply effortless as the 6-speed manual transmission has well spaced out ratios but the shifts do not feel pleasant. Trust me, you can easily do a non-stop Kanyakumari to Mumbai in this. Before you Google, its 1600 km that should roughly take about 30 hrs. It’s a no-brainer. All thanks to the 6th gear. 

The petrol powered Hector pumps out 143 PS at 5000 RPM and 250 Nm Torque at 1600-3600 RPM. This engine is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission which offers quick shifts but again, like its not very slick. 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 revs alive.

What turned me off was the fact that overtaking required constant downshifts. Again, it boils down to the un-proportionate size of this car and the fact that the turbo takes its sweet time to kick-in. 

Kitna deti hai? The Diesel returned an average of 13.5 kmpl while the petrol maxed out at 12 kmpl. This can also be attributed to the treacherous driving terrain in the hills and pedal-to-metal driving. Expect slightly higher numbers if you are a sane driver. unlike me.

Safety

The MG Hector also gets a host of virtual safety features thanks to the iSMART system like a dedicated call centre for emergency assistance which the MG call a ‘Pulse Hub’, Geo Fence, among others. More safety features include an Electronic Stability Program, Hill Hold Control, 6-Airbags, TCS, and ABS with EBD.

Six Airbags Electronic Stability Control (ESC) ABS with EBD and Brake Assist 360-Degree Camera Hill-Hold Control Front and Rear Parking Sensors Rear Parking Camera Rear Defogger Tyre Pressure Monitoring System Traction Control System ISOFIX Child-Seat Mount

So, is it a Hello MG or Goodbye MG?

Buy the Hector if you:

  • Worship space. By space, I mean acres of space
  • Prefer safety over style. Built like a tank. 
  • Want to attend your favourite weekend party in style
  • Love chrome more than you love anything else in this world 
  • Don’t Live to Drive

At  a time when the Indian automotive industry is slumping at an 20-year low, we commend the courage of an international brand to enter the subcontinent and tackle the stereotypes branding it against its country of departure. It’s not easy to touch the 1.5k sales numbers at this time. We wish Morris Garages loads of success in the coming years and we hope to see even better cars from them to take on the ever popular and dynamic market. We also wish to see a more proportionate design in their next car which happens to be a fully electric SUV, the MG eZS. #futureiselectric . 

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