Over 21,000 bookings in a span of less than 50 days is what MG’s first offering for the Indian car market has managed to garner. That’s an excellent figure for a vehicle that costs upwards of Rs 12 lakh and sells in a segment that is witnessing the fierce competition. Is the product that good?
We got a chance to sample the diesel and the hybrid versions last month in South India and were pretty impressed with the overall package and driving experience. However, the media fleet did not include the much important petrol DCT automatic variant but thanks to our friend and Cartoq reader Mayank, we managed to lay hands on one yesterday. So, is the Hector petrol DCT automatic as good as expected?
On the outside, there are absolutely no changes in the DCT version. Mayank opted for the Glaze Red color in the top spec Sharp trim, the same we drove last month down South. It does stand out in the crowd of cars on Indian roads and this is also got to do with the sheer size of the Hector. For numbers, it is almost a foot longer than the Jeep Compass. And then there is the all LED set-up, including for the rear lights and indicators, tons of chrome, a huge grille and doses of oomph factor thanks to a modern, contemporary design language.
The only area where MG could have done a better job is in the wheels department. The 17-inch alloys look an inch or two smaller and are unable to gel with the otherwise huge body of the Hector. Likewise, in my opinion, the rear seems to be slightly overdone but wil work well for the Indian car market.
Getting inside the cabin is easy and I was greeted with the same upmarket cabin as before. No changes here too – the huge screen takes centre stage and the absence of buttons gives the cabin a clean look. And then there is the panoramic sunroof and the glass area ensures enough light into the cabin. The only difference here is the gear lever for the automatic gearbox. The Hector petrol gets an optional 6-speed DCT or dual-clutch transmission and this is what today’s corporate and metro city consumers are looking for. Like other such gearbox levers, you see the slots for P, R, N and D. Plus, you can flick the lever to the right to go into S or Sport mode which also allows you to take charge of the shifts manually. The same gets reflected on the speedometer console too.
Fire up the motor and the 1.5-litre motor settles into a smooth idle. This one makes 143PS of power and 250 Nm of torque. While these are healthy figures, remember, the Hector is a heavy SUV and flat outperformance thus takes a hit. But we will start with the city runs here. Slot the lever into D and the Hector takes off smoothy with the creep function coming handy for start-stop traffic. Once on the move, upshifts are smooth and the big (its the longest SUV, remember?) MG goes about commuting in a very effortless manner. This combined with the light steering and plush suspension makes the Hector DCT one hell of a city commuter. In a mix of slow rush hour traffic and open roads that saw our average speeds of just under 20km/h, the onboard displayed showed an economy of 11.5 kmpl. Not bad at all, eh?
However, when you want to get going fast or close in on gaps, the set-up disappoints. I was expecting the DCT (being a dual-clutch) to be fairly responsive but that isn’t the case. Even Mayank, the owner, voiced the same opinion. Pedal to metal, the ‘box takes it sweet time understanding what to do and by then you have lost a second or two. The only way to get around this to slot the lever to the right and take manual control of the transmission. This way its much better (and quicker) and once on the boil, the 1.5-litre does response well with all its horses. This being a brand new car with under 1000 km on the odo, we didn’t subject it to acceleration or top speed runs yet. However, Mayank says his recent 500km drive to Dehradun from Delhi saw him hit 120 km/h a few times with confidence.
This particular version has a party trick in the package. With the official MG app, an owner can remote start the Hector DCT to switch on the air-con. Do note that remote start is not offered in manual cars as the transmission needs to in neutral. We did try this function out and it worked like a charm. Brownie points here for sure and owners will love showing off this function to their friends.
The Hector continues to offer a very comfortable ride. The suspension is clearly tuned towards absorbing undulations rather than attacking corners and this will be appreciated by owners. NVH levels are good and MG has worked a lot on noise insulation to keep the cabin a silent place to be in. The DCT automatic is sold in the higher trims of Smart and Sharp with prices starting at Rs 15.28 lakh. It does undercut other large options like the Crysta and the XUV500 and is a fair amount cheaper than the Jeep Compass as well.
Before I end though, the big question of Kitna Deti Hai? As per ARAI (Automotive Research Association of India) , the Hector DCT delivers 13.96 kmpl which is similar to that of of the Jeep Compass or the XUV500 petrol. So while bookings are on hold due to the overwhelming response, if you are in the market looking for a mid-size petrol automatic SUV, the Hector DCT can be considered. It is comfortable, the gearbox makes daily commutes hassle-free and the value quotient remains high. That said, enthusiasts may look elsewhere as the lack of punch and body roll will disappoint you. But for everyone else, and that makes for a large chunk of the buyers, the MG Hector Petrol DCT Automatic seems tempting enough.