The Hector has its work cut out. Not only does it arrive at a time when car sales are slowing down, it also has the onus to help establish a brand, that too no less than MG Motors. MG Motors itself is a legendary British car brand that is currently under Chinese ownership of SAIC corporation, which is China’s largest carmaker and has multiple brands under its belt.
But MG has clearly worked out the market in India and knows that the next big step is in connected car technology. The Hector stands apart from the crowd with over 50 apps, which MG calls the i-smart technology but more on that later.
The Hector gets plenty of chrome all across its face. MG has followed the new-found design theme of placing the main lamps in the bumpers, while the indicators are on top, where the headlamps are traditionally placed. The huge grille upfront gets generous doses of chrome and gives the car plenty of bling. The heavily sculpted front bumper too makes the Hector stand out. You won’t mistake it for any other car in the market. The side profile is more traditional and the squared-out wheel arches look sharp as well. However, the 17-inch wheels look a bit small in the large sized wheel-arches, giving the Hector of a wrestler that works out his entire body but misses out on leg days.
The rear profile is less dramatic than the front but the tail lamp treatment will remind you of a certain German premium SUV. Though MG has tried to be smart about it with the use of a plastic cladding connecting both the lamps, its hard not to see the similarities with the Audi Q5’s design. Speaking of similarities, the turn indicators are also similar to the dynamic floating type used on most Audi cars. MG is using all LEDs on this car, from the front lamp to even the lights inside the cabin, there is not a single old-school filament bulb in use.
The highlight of the cabin is the big 10.4-inch touchscreen, which is in portrait mode. It is as easy to navigate through as an Apple iPad or a Samsung Tab device. The system comes loaded with the Gaana app for music, TomTom for navigation, AccuWeather for all climate updates and has an Airtel sim embedded in the system that cannot be removed. The car can be started via the MG i-Smart app on your mobile phone and you can use a host of voice-based commands by simply saying “Hello, MG”. Some of the voice-based commands include opening/closing the sunroof, turning the volume up or down and also turning the AC up or down. The system works flawlessly and since it is machine-based learning, it never baulks.
In terms of overall quality, the Hector is up there with the Jeep Compass and only a shade away from the Tata Harrier. Buyers will appreciate the amount of space inside the cabin, especially the rear. The seats with their generous cushioning will also be liked by most. The 587-litre boot is one of the largest we’ve seen on any car in the market and adds to the practicality of the cabin.
Engine, performance and gearbox
You get a choice of two engine options. There is a 2-litre diesel, which makes 170bhp and a 1.5-litre petrol with 143bhp. The petrol comes with hybrid as well as non-hybrid option. The petrol engine impressed us for sheer refinement. When at a standstill, its hard to tell that the motor is even or off. Even when revved hard, the engine doesn’t become noisy and cabin isolation is generally good. Power from the petrol is adequate for most needs and even on inclines it will be sufficient.
The diesel engine is the same as the one on the Jeep Compass and makes similar power. It has similar levels of noise isolation as well. That said, power delivery is good once you pass the 1,700rpm mark. The gearbox on both the petrol and diesel options is a six-speed manual. The gearshifts are decent but need a heavy hand to shift, just like on the Compass and Harrier. The diesel has the heavier clutch and the action is very similar to the Compass.
Ride and handling
The Hector impressed with its high-speed stability. The car feels rock solid as speeds increase and go over 100kph. Slow city ride us decent as well, but at slower speeds some of the sharper crevices can enter the cabin. The steering for the most part offers decent feedback and is well weighted. Neither does it feel overtly firm nor is it overtly light.
The Hector is the most high-tech car in its segment and that along with the roomy cabin, comfortable ride and well made interiors gives it the edge over its rivals. The sharp looks add an element of excitement as well. MG has truly arrived in India with style and substance.