MG India organized national media test drive in Coimbatore earlier this week. It was a three day event. On the first day, media from across the country arrived. In the evening, there was briefing along with press conference and an evening with top management officials of MG India, including Mr Rajeev Chaba, President & Managing Director, MG Motor India.
After explaining the car in detail, talking about the drive route next day, Mr Chaba emphasised the point that MG Motor is not a Chinese car brand. It is a British brand, which has been in existence for over 90 years, says Mr Chhaba. But there are many, who call MG a Chinese car company. This surely has some kind of negative effect, why else would it be highlighted by Mr Chaba.
He explains. “Will you call Jaguar Land Rover Indian brand? No, right? Even though JLR is owned by Tata Motors, no one calls it an Indian brand,” added Mr Chaba. MG is owned by SAIC, which is a state owned Chinese car company. But ownership has got nothing to do with origin. Brand is always from where it originated. With the branding taken care of, it was now time to take a deeper look at the Hector.
Hector comes with a stately design, which perfectly suits its large size. It is the biggest SUV in its class, measuring 4,655 mm x 1,835 mm x 1,760 mm (LxWxH) and 1750 mm wheelbase. Hector is built to dominate the roads, as its bold exteriors exude a sense of power.
With its smooth curves, Hector is also something that is naturally attractive and pleasing to the eyes. Key exterior features include LED DRLs, floating light turn indicators, LED headlamps, stylish front grille with chrome accent, LED front and rear fog lamps, LED tail lamps, shark fin antenna, and dual-tone machine cut alloy wheels.
Interior design elements are inspired by the graceful movements of a professional dancer, which not only look good, but are also functionally relevant. Hector interiors sport a classy, luxurious look and feel and come wrapped in leather all throughout.
The black leather with its white stitching is an absolute treat for the eyes and scores high in comfort as well. Apart from the seats, the dashboard, doors trims, driver armrest, and steering wheel are also wrapped in leather. Other key features include 2nd row seat recline, front and rear LED reading lights, flat foldable second row, fatigue reminder setting, and 8 colour ambient lighting.
Fit and finish, overall build quality of the car on the outside as well on the inside is simply top notch. Cabin is well insulated from the outside world. In the petrol variant, you will not hear the engine sound, even when the car is on the move. NVH levels are that good. And when the engine sound creeps into the cabin, it is when you are red-lining the smooth petrol mill, which packs good punch for a car this size. Diesel variant NVH are also good. But the diesel clutter does creep into the cabin, even at idle.
Thanks to large windows, panoramic sunroof, the already large and spacious cabin, gives the feeling of being even bigger. The rear seat can accommodate 3 adults very comfortably. This means travelling long distances with 5 on board will not be an issue with the Hector. And when you only have two passengers at the rear, there is the chunky arm rest to make the journey even more comfortable. It also offers the largest boot space in the segment with 587 liters – more than enough to store the luggage of 5 passengers for a weekend road trip.
Front and rear AC vents were doing their job and the cabin temperature was maintained. But since the outside temperature was not above 30 degrees, it will be difficult to say how the AC performs on a hot day in cities like Ahmedabad or Delhi, where day temperatures hover around the 45 degrees C mark.
Passengers looking for some entertainment will be thrilled to ride the Hector, as it comes with a large 10.4 inch touchscreen infotainment system. Hector also offers a premium sound system by Infinity, featuring 8 speakers & tweeters and subwoofer & amplifier. The sound quality is not the best, but is quite good for the segment.
Steering mounted audio controls make it easier for the driver to manage the infotainment system. Hector also offers a range of comfort & convenience features such as dual-pane panoramic sunroof, 6-way power adjustable driver seat, 4-way power adjustable co-driver seat, electric tailgate, rain sensing wipers, heated ORVMs, auto headlamps, cruise control and front and rear fast-charging USB ports.
The thing that gives Hector its human characteristic is i-Smart technology, which is powered by a 5G-ready M2M embedded SIM. With i-Smart, users can stay connected on the go and access a range of features and functionalities such as remote vehicle control, real-time navigation and traffic updates, voice assistant, Gaana premium account, preloaded entertainment content, automatic emergency call, general assistance, geofencing, vehicle status check, locate car’s location, and driver analytics. MG Motor has developed i-Smart in partnership with top companies such as Microsoft, AccuWeather, SAP, Adobe, Cognizant, Tomtom, Nuance, Airtel, and Unlimit.
Most of the functions in the car, can be completed via voice command. All you have to do is simply say “Hello MG”, and once the car responds, order the function you want to execute. For example – “open sunroof”, “close sunroof”, “start AC”, “shut down AC”, “play radio”, “navigate to destination”, “how is the whether”, “temperature outside”, “dial xyz number”, and many more. In total, the car understands and executes about 100 such commands.
Another distinguishing aspect of Hector is that it is India’s first 48V hybrid SUV. Hector petrol hybrid variant is powered by a 1.5-litre turbocharged engine that generates max power of 143 PS @ 5000 rpm and max torque of 250 Nm @ 1600-3600 rpm. Engine is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. Hector petrol variant shares the same configuration, but it comes with an addition option of DCT, which is another class-leading feature. DCT variant does not get hybrid option.
Primary advantages of Hector hybrid include its 20 Nm torque boost, regenerative braking, engine start/stop system, improved fuel efficiency and reduced CO2 emissions. Diesel variant is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine that generates 170 PS @ 3750 rpm and 350 Nm @ 1750-2500 rpm. Diesel engine is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. Diesel variant has the highest fuel efficiency of 17.41 km/l, followed by petrol hybrid 15.81 km/l and petrol variant 14.16 (MT), 13.96 (DCT) km/l.
At the drive, MG only had the manual diesel and manual petrol hybrid on offer. For me, it is the petrol hybrid which is the winner. Not only the engine is refined, it is also very powerful. If you are an enthusiast, and want a large family SUV, the Hector petrol hybrid will be a good option. Thanks to the 20 Nm torque boost, you will get a really good pickup. The acceleration is linear and smooth. The engine is peppy, and loves to redline.
Diesel motor too is powerful, and the 350 Nm of torque comes handy when the SUV is loaded. Apart from being less refined than the petrol variant, the diesel Hector also has a heavier clutch of the two. Both cars feature a similar suspension setting, which is set for Indian road conditions. Bumps and potholes are taken care with ease by the Hector, and not much discomfort seeps into the cabin.
The car remains well planted, and rarely gets unsettled – thanks to a kerb wt of about 1,700 kgs. Thanks to the huge size and long wheelbase, body roll is present, and you might not want to sit on the rear seat while the car is being driven around on the ghats.
Steering is not the sharpest, as it has a little bit of vagueness, which is done to deliver a relaxed driving experience, especially on longer journeys. Steering is light, and has a good feedback. The system is such that you will not realize that you are driving such a big car. All four wheels feature disc brake with ABS. They do the job well of getting the car to a halt. The brakes do not have the sudden bite, but deliver a progressive breaking experience.
Hector has been built using high strength steel for enhanced safety and comes with thick door panels, roll-formed tubular steel door beams, and hot-stamped B pillar. You will experience the built quality as soon as you open the doors. The doors are chunky and feel really heavy.
There is good amount of weather proofing around the door panels. Key safety features include 6 airbags, ABS with ABD and brake assist, hill hold control, traction control system (TCS), electronic stability program (ESP), 360° camera view, tyre pressure monitoring system, electric parking brake, front and rear parking sensors, speed warning alert, rear defogger and ISOFIX child seat anchors.
Is it better than Tata Harrier? MG Motor has set ambitious plans for India and in its debut innings with Hector SUV, the company has opened 120 outlets (70 dealer showrooms and 50 service outlets) across the country. There are plans to double this number by September 2019. Bookings can be made at any of these outlets and online as well. Hector is being promoted with the tagline ‘Its a human thing’, implying that it can acknowledge your presence, respond to your needs, and learn from your interactions, quite similar to humans. It is the first SUV in its class to offer more than 50 connected features.
Yes. If we only take into account factors like refinement, build quality, features, etc; MG Hector is better than the Tata Harrier. But it is not clear how it is going to be to live with a Hector. How expensive will it be to service / maintain. How expensive are the spares and parts. How is the dealership experience. Will MG price the Hector in the Harrier range? All these questions are yet to be answered.
Disclaimer – For this review, MG India invited and hosted us. Paid for our travel, stay, and food.