Launched in September 2019, the MG Hector went on to help its carmaker quickly establish itself well in the market. The Baojun 530-based SUV attracted many with its connectivity tech and several other attributes that make it a VFM proposition. The Hector was followed by the ZS EV and the Gloster, both of which have managed to do fairly well. And now, in just about 2 years of its first cars market debut, the SAIC-owned British car marque has introduced its fourth all-new offering in our market. Dubbed MG Astor, the new model is essentially an ICE-equipped version of the carmakers Hyundai Kona Electric-rivalling EV. With prices starting from Rs 9.78 lakh (introductory, ex-showroom), the MG Astor is a lot of car for your money. Our 2021 MG Astor review here offers a detailed account of our experience with the newest Hyundai Creta and Kia Seltos-rival.
One look at the Astor and youll be surprised with the uncanny resemblance with the ZS EV. However, any similarity is only natural as the Astor is based on the gasoline-sipping ZS thats on sale in the West. In fact, its almost exactly like the refreshed ZS that debuted a few months ago. So, other than a silhouette that screams ZS EV, you get a revised front-end that features a distinctive chrome-studded grille, a sportier bumper and very attractive full-LED hawk-eye headlamps. Quite unsurprisingly, the side profile is highly reminiscent of the ZS EV but you do get a different set of 17-inch alloy wheels. The new rims have a diamond-cut finish and are shod with Continental ContiMax footwear.
At the rear, you get a plethora of badges, a blacked-out skid plate and faux exhaust tips. The LED taillights look pretty good and their glow pattern mimics that of the DRLs upfront. Overall, the MG Astor neither looks radical like the latest-gen Hyundai Creta nor has a conventionally SUV-ish silhouette of the Kia Seltos. However, its a handsome car that looks quite upmarket and even a tad sporty. Moreover, thanks to the conventional styling elements, it should have a wider appeal than its Korean adversary.
The interior of the MG Astor has quite a few magic tricks on offer. Firstly, one doesnt need to carry a key fob to get into this car and start driving it. All of this can be done through Bluetooth and a digital key app on your smartphone. The overall ambience will impress you, especially if you opt for the Sangria Red colour scheme for the cabin. Also, the Astor becomes the first-ever mainstream car on sale in the country to feature an AI-powered personal assistant that can do a lot of things, including extracting information from Wikipedia, cracking jokes and even even wave goodbyes. The quality of materials used everywhere is pretty good, while the ergonomics are spot on.
The highlight of the dashboard is a 10.1-inch infotainment unit that offers various connectivity options along with some pre-fed apps. It also works in tandem with the iSmart connectivity that can be used for even booking parking slots in advance of having a tailor-made insurance policy made as per your usage pattern.
Yet another fancy feature is the XL-size sunroof that can be operated either through a one-touch button or using voice commands. The cabin feels sufficiently spacious for a car of its size. Unfortunately, however, we couldnt seat three on the rear bench as our test was confined to the race track and small straights around it. And then, there's also ADAS Level-2 package that offers a gamut of safety and convenience-enhancing features such as adaptive cruise control, Blind Spot Detection, Lane Keep Assist and Rear Cross Alert.
The MG Astor has gone on sale in two engine variants - 1.5-litre naturally-aspirated petrol that belts out a maximum of 110PS and 144Nm. The other option on offer is that of a 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol unit that outputs 140PS and 220Nm. The less powerful of the two mills is available with a 6-speed manual and an 8-step CVT, while the turbo'ed unit is only on sale with a 6-speed torque-converter automatic.
We drove the latter and found the motor to be at least as engaging as the 1.4-litre T-GDi unit available on the Hyundai Creta as well as the Kia Seltos. There's almost no lag and the motor freely revs till around 5,000 RPM. That said, it does get a bit vocal post 3,000 RPM but you won't mind the rather sporty sound that is made. The engine is also high on the refinement, while the NVH is well-controlled under normal driving. Also, there are three steering modes on offer - Dynamic, Urban and Normal. While the Urban mode will come in handy on crowded streets, the steering wheel fails to gain enough weight even in the dynamic mode.
That said, most of you who have been used to the ultra-light, almost lifeless EPS units will find the steering wheel of the Astor to be very sporty. Also, the body roll is pretty well contained but passing over speed-breakers revealed that the suspension can feel a bit stiff at low speeds. The MG Astor is certainly not as sporty to drive as the Kia Seltos but it's definitely more engaging than the Hyundai Creta. Similarly, it doesn't seem to have the amazing ride quality of the Hyundai Creta but the ride isn't as stiff as it's on Seltos. So, basically, the Astor strikes a decent balance between the two adversaries.
Available in a price range of Rs 9.78 lakh to Rs 16.78 lakh (introductory ex-showroom rates), the MG Astor offers as many as 9 variants. While this allows one to pick the best model as per his budget, it should be noted that the goodies like the Level 2 ADAS and the Sangria Red interior are available only on the top-spec trim. Still, however, the MG Astor comes across as a high-value proposition. The turbo-petrol motor is as good as the comparable motor on the rivals, while the car seems to have found a good balance between offering a great ride and sporty handling characteristics.
Moreover, the cabin comes kitted out with several segment-firsts and even seems to be well-built. Moreover, the exterior design and styling is contemporary and won't divide opinions like the Hyundai Creta. The MG Astor certainly has many positives and, frankly, it's a bit hard to find a chink in its armour.
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