MG Gloster review, road test

    Can MG’s new flagship disrupt the body-on-frame seven-seat premium SUV space?

    Published on Oct 23, 2020 06:00:00 AM

    91,714 Views

    The in-house-developed, 1,996cc, twin-turbo diesel engine under the hood of the Gloster punches out 218hp and 480Nm of torque, which again are the highest outputs for this sort of SUV. Drive goes to the rear via an 8-speed torque-converter automatic, with an on-demand 4WD system engaging when necessary.


     

    The Gloster isn’t merely impressive on paper, but even in our tests it dispatched the 0-100kph sprint in just 11.21sec, which is as quick as the Mahindra Alturas G4, despite being a full 368kg heavier. In roll-on acceleration, 20-80kph was dispatched in a reasonably quick 6.57sec and 40-100kph in 8.77sec after a firm kick down on the accelerator; almost as quick as the much lighter Mahindra (6.41sec, 8.62sec) and much quicker than the Ford and Toyota.

    But outright performance aside, this twin-turbo engine has a particularly weak bottom end, and off the mark, it feels unusually sluggish. Below 2,000rpm, no amount of poking the accelerator will get it to pick up the pace, and this is only exacerbated by the slow responses of the gearbox, which often takes time to figure out which gear you need to be in. Drop the revs to crawling speeds, and no matter how much you prod the accelerator, it almost never downshifts to the extremely short first gear ratio, and that’s where the lag and the poor calibration make their presence felt. It is only once you pass 2,000rpm that all of the boost comes in and you surge forward. The slug of torque, although strong, is quite linear in the way the power flows in.

    The highway is where this slow-revving engine, which won’t spin beyond 3,900rpm, feels most comfortable. Its big reserves of torque and long-legged gearing mean it can cruise effortlessly in seventh or eighth gear, which makes it the ideal SUV for those long outstation trips with the family. Gearshifts on the move are unobtrusive and you’ll always have enough power available, should you want to go faster. There is some manual control on offer via a set of paddle shifters, which really come in handy to drop two or three gears for a quick overtake. However, it doesn’t like overly aggressive downshifts; if the revs are too high, it won’t comply.

    There are also Eco and Sport driving modes for the Gloster’s on-road performance, but in practice, we couldn’t discern a tangible difference between engine or gearbox performance, mode to mode.

    The brakes are well-judged and very impressive in the way they shed speed. The heavy Gloster hauled itself down to a standstill from 80kph in just 2.56sec and 25m, which is exceptionally good, considering its weight.

    Clever gadgetry and an electronic locking rear diff makes it capable enough for some off-road conditions.
     

    There is a locking rear e-diff that you can engage with a button on the centre console, but apart from that, your only control of the 4WD system is via a set of pre-set drive modes – Sand, Snow, Rock and Mud. There’s no manually selectable 4WD or low-range, like you get in some rivals. And while its clever four-wheel-drive system, coupled with the clever off-roading gadgetry, ensures that the Gloster tackles some moderate-level obstacles and sticky scenarios, a mountain-goat like the Toyota Fortuner it is not, and the MG’s hefty 2,518kg kerb weight doesn’t help. 

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