Within a span of just one month since its launch, MG has managed to sell over 1,500 units of the Hector. More importantly, among all the units sold, the majority of the units are petrol-automatic variants. And while we have previously driven the diesel and hybrid engine options, paired with a manual transmission, of the MG Hector, this time around, we will focus on just the petrol-automatic variant. Powering this Hector is a 143hp, 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine that’s mated to a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT). This engine-gearbox combination is available in the top two variants at Rs 15.28 lakh (Smart) and Rs 16.78 lakh (Sharp) (ex-showroom, India).
What’s it like on the inside?
Step inside the Hector and you are welcomed by a spacious and well laid-out cabin. The all-black dashboard has a clean design and also houses the massive, vertical 10.4-inch touchscreen. In the DCT variant, you get an electronic parking brake instead of a manual handbrake, and that has freed up a lot of space. In addition, you also get an auto-hold function, which engages the parking brake when you come to a stop and disengages when you get back on the throttle. This feature is especially useful when you are at a traffic light. The accelerator and brake pedals are well spaced out and you also have a wide dead pedal that is set at a comfortable angle.
Coming to the cabin itself, it has few hard plastics but overall use of leather and soft-touch materials lends it an upmarket feel. However, look closely and you will find that the fit and finish levels aren’t up to standards, when compared to some European brand cars in India. In the front seats, you are sat at a good height, giving you a commanding view of the road. The driver’s seat offers six-way electric adjustment and the steering too can be adjusted for rake and reach, which means finding your perfect driving position is very easy. The seats themselves are comfortable enough, with adequate support for the back and thighs. Jump into the back seat and things just get even better. Rear seat passengers have plenty of legroom and headroom. The wide cabin also offers good shoulder room, and seating three passengers won’t be an issue at all. Adding to the comfort and convenience, you have a reclinable backrest, rear air-con vents, fast charging socket, and a giant panoramic sunroof. At 587 litres, it has the biggest boot in its segment.
The Hector is loaded with equipment and has a dedicated SIM card that connects you with the car through an app and allows you to access certain functions, like sunroof opening and geofencing, from your mobile phone. There’s a voice command function, activated by saying “‘Hello MG’”, which allows you to operate the sunroof and air con, apart from infotainment functions. In terms of safety, the top-end Sharp variant gets features like six airbags, LED headlamps with LED DRLs, front and rear parking sensors with 360-degree camera, electronic stability program (ESP), traction control system (TCS), ABS with EBD and brake assist, all-wheel disc brakes and Isofix child-seat anchors. Apart from these, the petrol-DCT variant also allows you to start the car and the air con remotely. A neat party trick!
What’s it like to drive?
The Hector gets a 1.5-litre turbo-petrol engine that produces 143hp and 250Nm of torque. Be it at idle or while driving at low speeds, you can barely hear the engine inside the cabin. This gives a feeling of being cut off from the outside world, which adds to the premium driving experience. From a standstill, if you take your foot off the brake pedal, the car creeps forward in a nice and smooth manner, thanks to the dual-clutch auto.
Press down on the accelerator while the car is creeping forward and you are met by a surge of power after a slight pause. The low engine speed responses are quite good and it delivers power linearly till 4,000rpm, after which there’s no real progress. The 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission isn’t one of the quickest-shifting units. With a uniform accelerator input, you will see the gearbox shifting up to the highest gear in quite a smooth and relaxed manner. But demand sudden power, and, at times, it is slow to react. Even in our acceleration tests, the Hector did the 0-100kph sprint in 14.21sec, which makes it the slowest among its competitors. While the upshifts are barely noticeable, the downshifts, when slowing down, are not smooth. In city traffic, the gearbox also has a tendency to get confused when you lift off and get back on the throttle, and as a result, it can feel a bit jerky. Driving in manual mode isn’t very helpful either, as there is a noticeable pause between shifts. The MG is also geared short and the engine revs at a high 2,300rpm while cruising at 100kph, which results in it consuming more fuel. In our test cycle, the car gave a fuel efficiency of 6.5kpl in the city and only 8.3kpl on the highway.
The Hector’s soft suspension setup absorbs small undulations on the roads quite well. It, however, has a tendency to crash over sharp potholes. The steering is light and easy to use but offers no feel or feedback. There is plenty of body roll and it understeers when you push it hard in corners. The all-wheel disc brakes do a good job of bringing this heavy SUV to a stop without much drama, but it is quite clear that the MG Hector is not in its comfort zone when being driven with gusto.
Should I buy one?
The Hector petrol-automatic is available in two variants – Smart and Sharp, priced at Rs 15.28 lakh and Rs 16.78 lakh (ex-showroom, India), respectively. You also get a 5-year/unlimited km standard warranty and roadside assistance, along with different maintenance plans.
MG has gotten the recipe right with the Hector. It offers what most of the buyers are looking for in an SUV – space, comfort, road presence, and a premium feel. Add to this an aggressive price tag, which gives it a huge value-for-money advantage over its competitors. Other petrol-automatic options, like the Hyundai Creta and the Mahindra XUV500, don’t offer as much equipment and premium feel like the MG, and the Jeep Compass doesn’t offer as much space and is in a much higher price band.
So, in conclusion, the petrol-automatic combination offers a refined and comfortable driving experience. The gearbox, though, is not the smoothest and it isn’t sporty or fun when you want to press on. One of the major rivals that the Hector petrol-DCT faces is the recently launched Kia Seltos. It isn’t as spacious as the Hector, but the two are neck to neck in other aspects. However, if you are looking for a fully loaded petrol-automatic SUV that offers the maximum value for your money, then the petrol-DCT variant of the MG Hector should fulfil most of your requirements.