A global automobile brand making its debut in one of the biggest markets in the world is always big news. What is even more special with the latest addition is that it comes from an iconic car company which is almost a century old and that it is an SUV, something that is getting all the attention from car buyers. The Hector from British marquee Morris Garages has been much talked about, it was unveiled and this week we finally got behind its wheels in the lovely environs of the Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu.
The Hector has got an imposing stance to say the least. Its dimensions are quite intimidating especially the length as it is the longest SUV in its class. It is tall too but strangely when it comes to the width it doesn’t look wide enough in proportion. What also don’t look proportionate are the 17-inch wheels that look slightly smaller in size. But the front is where the Hector is really likeable with the big chrome grille, the slim LEDs on the top and the headlamps down below that are nicely divided into two parts. On the profile the square wheel arches, body cladding and the roof rails give this SUV the much needed muscle. Probably the most stylish part is the rear where the two LED lamps merged beautifully with each other while the faux second exhaust and the skid plates make the SUV look even more appealing.
If there’s one single feature MG Motor has focused on in the last few months in the Hector is the 10.4-inch touch screen system with all its connectivity options. But we’ll come to that in just a bit because the first thing that leaves you impressed when you enter the SUV is its cabin space. It may not look too wide from outside but this car offers a lot of space especially on the second row that gets separate AC vents and a flat floor. The big panoramic sunroof makes the cabin feel even more spacious. Both the front seats are electronically adjustable and the levels of quality on offer are also very upmarket. The highlight though is the infotainment system that comes with voice command. It may take you a while to memorize these commands but once you do that spending time with this car is a lot of fun. For example opening the sunroof, rolling down the window or finding the nearest petrol pump becomes a simpler exercise. You can also do a lot through an app like switching the ignition on, controlling the climate or geo fencing making your car owning experience safer and more convenient.
The MG Hector is available in both petrol and diesel engine options. Diesel is the well known 2.0 litre multijet from Fiat that we’ve already seen on cars like the Jeep Compass and the Tata Harrier. A maximum power of 170 PS and peak torque of 350 Nm is good numbers to have on this engine and it is able to carry the weight of the car pretty well. MG motor is claiming a mileage of 17.41 kmpl on this turbocharged engine and that’s the best amongst all the options the car offers. There’s just a 6-speed manual gearbox that is mated to this engine. The petrol on the other hand comes in both manual and DCT options. And there’s a smart hybrid as well but that is available with just the manual transmission. With features like regenerative braking and idle start/stop system the company is promising a 10% increase in fuel efficiency and similar reduction in CO2 emissions when compared to the non-hybrid model. So 15.81 kmpl is what is being promised on the smart hybrid. The 143 PS, 250 Nm engine is not as powerful as the diesel but it is definitely easier to drive of the two. NVH levels are impressive on both the engines.
Ride & Handling
The build quality of the Hector is really good which means the SUV feels solid to drive. It is stable at all speeds and while a car of these dimensions will come with body roll it’s not something that will unsettle you. The ride quality especially at slow speeds in the city traffic is really good and the car takes to the bad patches of the roads pretty well. It is only at high speeds out on the open road when you hit some undulations that the ride becomes a bit bumpy. The steering is light but sometimes over assists and that makes driving in the hills a little uneasy at times. Also the otherwise torquey engines have a little less to offer under 1500 rpm so the trick to climb the mountains we realised on this drive is to maintain a fair bit of momentum.
The prices of the MG Hector will be revealed in a few days from now but all indications from the company point towards the fact that it will be a good value for money option. This is a segment with some strong competition but some features make this car stand out. The 4 variants are also well defined with lower variants too getting a good chunk of features. The presence of safety features like 6 airbags, rear disc brakes, hill hold control and a 360 degree camera also make the Hector more appealing. It’s a good first car from a brand making its India debut and the company is promising 250 touch points within the next few months to provide you a good ownership experience. if you’re seriously considering buying this car it could be a risk worth taking.
Shams Naqvi is an anchor/producer for the News X motor show Living Cars