After creating a lot of scuttlebutt and excitement, there’s a lot riding for the Hector as it marks the debut of Morris Garagesor MG in India. Historically, the MG brand is a British venture, but, as of now, it is Chinese-owned. That being said, MG is owned by Shanghai-based SAIC Motor Corporation, one of the biggest Chinese automakers and they have plans to introduce a smart SUV that offers a blend of connected tech, comfort and panache. However, debuting in a crowded segment will not be a cakewalk for the Hector as it will be directly going against the XUV500, Jeep Compass, Creta and Harrier.
Premium and Bold!
In our time shooting the MG Hector review, we realized that the Hector is certainly a head turner. Starting off, the Hector follows the split headlamp design with daytime running lamps positioned where the lights should be while the headlamp cluster is placed at the bumper level. As a matter of fact, the Hector reaps an all-LED setup in the top two variants. Come to the side, and while we noticed that the Hector is the longest in the segment, there are extensive details like the Internet Inside badging right below the A-pillar, a chrome strip that reads Morris Garages at the bottom of the rear door and well-proportionate wheel arches that accommodate a set of 17-inch alloy wheels, which, in our opinion, appear to be dwarfed by the Hector’s large overhangs.
At the back, we loved how the wraparound LED taillights adds a ton of character to the Hector. However, the rear bumper has overdone scuff plates, which are not subtle, to say the least. The tailgate is powered which can be accessed from the driver’s seat or by pressing a dedicated button on the key fob. There were some panel gaps that we noticed in our time shooting the Hector review, however, MG claims that will be tightened before the car reaches to the customers.
Step inside the cabin and the first thing that catches your eye is the 10.4-inch Volvo-esque vertical infotainment system right in the middle of the dashboard. While this certainly is the biggest infotainment in the segment, the response and feedback could have been better. The infotainment system in our MG Hector review displayed Tom-Tom navigation with live traffic updates, Gaana and Accuweather. There’s also an option to use Google Maps through the usual Apple Carplay and Android Auto. The infotainment system can also be converted to a home theatre system, provided the handbrake is engaged.
While all of this is pretty standard, the Hector goes one up by offering a 5G-enabled Airtel SIM inside that massive infotainment system. The embedded SIM ensures the car is always connected to the Internet and provides wireless over-the-air (OTA) updates for the Hector. This works in coherence with MG’s i-Smart Technology app that displays all the basic amenities like range, fuel levels and exact location of the vehicle. In the automatic variant, you can also start the engine and turn on the air conditioning through the magical app.
And it doesn’t end there. There are over 100 voice commands that can be activated by saying the magical phrase – Hello MG. And it works well with Indian accents too, for instance, you can open/close the sunroof, set a particular temperature for the cabin or ask for a soothing track from a particular media source.
There is acres of space inside the cabin of the Hector, be it the legroom or the headroom. The front seats provide good support over long drives. The rear bench has acres of legroom, the headroom is uncompromised however it lacks under-thigh support.
The Hector comes with two engine options – an FCA sourced 2.0-litre diesel motor that churns out 168bhp and 350Nm of torque mated to a six-speed manual transmission. This is the same powertrain we tested in the Jeep Compass and the Tata Harrier. There’s also a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine that pushes out 141bhp of power and 250Nm of peak torque, which comes in standard trim and as a mild-hybrid system. While the standard trim comes with an option of a six-speed manual and a dual-clutch automatic, the mild-hybrid, the one we drove in our Hector review, only comes mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.
The 1.5-litre mild-hybrid system comes paired to a lithium-ion battery, placed under the front passenger’s seat that runs the start-stop system and also provides an additional 20Nm of torque for better efficiency and drivability. The engine is fairly quiet at start, although there is an annoying whine that stays in the background all the time which we think is courtesy of the mild-hybrid system.
On the move, the Hector provides enough grunt in the City, however, the 141bhp does appear to be conservative out on the highways. The Hector struggled to build momentum below the 2,000rpm mark, and even after 2,000rpm the power delivery is sluggish and there is no sudden spike in power, as you would expect from a turbo. The suspension drools over bad roads and undulations in the smoothest manner. The steering, or rather the handling felt vague and although it does inspire some confidence, the steering refuses to weight up at higher speeds.
The MG Hector scores high on the butch design, cabin comfort, a massive 10.4-inch touchscreen and all the magic wizardry laden inside of it. Where it didn’t impress us was the drivability, be it the petrol mild-hybrid system or the handling. Having said that, the petrol variant of the MG Hector isn’t a driver’s car. However, if that isn’t your top priority, the Hector scores full marks for its design and connected features. And even if it is, you can always opt out for the more-powerful diesel. For a detailed MG Hector review, be sure to tune in to autoX.