MG Cars India has made waves with all its product launches ever since the SAIC-owned British brand made its foray in India, and seems to have lived up to the expectations of the Indian buyer. ‘MG’ stands for Morris Garages. And the Hector is an SUV that is based on the Chinese Baojun 530. The Hector is no small SUV; it’s long, tall but a bit narrow. MG has packed its SUV with as many upmarket features as possible, helping it appeal to the Indian audience. It gets a lot of first-in-segment features, a Fiat-sourced 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine, a 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine, and a petrol-hybrid model with a 48V battery as well. However, there is no four-wheel drive on offer, but this hardly matters to Indian SUV buyers. Here’s a gist of what features it comes with: 6 airbags, fatigue-warning alarm, and ABS and ESP.
The Hector, despite its boxy appeal, manages to draw lots of attention. Up-front, there’s a lot of detail – like the slender LED DRLs above and main headlight units placed below. The grille is massive; in fact, it looks a little too big, but Indians will take to it easily because of all the chrome. There’s a huge air-intake on the lower bumper and a prominent skid plate that give the SUV appeal it needs. But we think those 17-inch look a bit tiny. Viewed from the side, the sheer length of it is visible. It definitely looks bigger than a Jeep Compass but tends to look a bit disproportionate from certain angles. The pinched rear glass looks nice, and the blacked-out D-pillar gives it the floating look. The scuff plate at the rear looks like it’s trying too hard and there’s a red reflector strip that connects both tail lights. It looks premium with all that chrome – just the way Indians like their cars. One can’t miss seeing the ‘Internet Inside’ logo on the front fenders.
Enter the MG cars, and you’ll find a huge 10.4-inch touchscreen, perhaps the biggest you’ll see in the market. Right from the navigation to the infotainment and AC settings – all are housed in the touchscreen. And then there are some buttons for the front and rear defoggers and volume control. The resolution of the screen is good and is easy to read. There are a number of functions and apps to choose from as well, like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Google Maps, a 360-degree camera, in-car TomTom software, and a whole lot more. Features include rain-sensing wipers, mood lighting, cruise control, auto headlamps, and heated ORVMs. There are lots of storage spaces inside.
The cabin looks well made with lots of room for occupants, and the simplistic dashboard has soft-touch plastics, while the steering feels good to grip. The instrument cluster has nothing to write home about with normal dials, and the color MID screen consists of information like telephone access, turn-by-turn navigation alerts, and battery charging information (seen on the hybrid).
A few plastics tend to feel hard, and overall quality doesn’t match the Koreans, but it still looks quite premium with lots of gizmos offered as well. The driver can sit comfortably, because of the six-way electric driver seat and adjustable steering. The seats are broad and supportive and get upholstered in artificial leather.
The Hector is sold with two engine options: a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine that makes 141bhp and 250Nm of torque. Also, it gets a 2.0-litre diesel motor that makes 168bhp and 350Nm of torque – the same engine that does duty in Jeep’s Compass and Tata’s Harrier. We drove the one with the mild-hybrid system that comes mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox. There’s ample power delivery in the city, and the Hector is not a great handling SUV as such, while body roll is prominent. The steering is lacking in feel and the clutch is light. The suspension absorbs all that comes in its way, and a ground clearance of 200mm, which is good for our roads.
There’s a lot riding on the Hector, and it already seems to have earned the confidence of the Indian buyer. It’s not as rugged as the Compass and Harrier, but with all its fancy features – and that huge touchscreen in particular – it is sure to continue having its strong customer base. And then there’s all that chrome that Indian buyers and MG seem to have addressed with aplomb. MG has also managed to price it competitively, making it a good value. Also, grab the latest info on the Kia Seltos, only at autoX.