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    MG Astor 1.3 Turbo AT Road Test

    Authors Image

    Ninad Ambre

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    MG Astor Left Front Three Quarter

    Introduction

    The MG Astor is slotted in the heavily competitive C-segment of SUVs dominated by the Hyundai Creta, Kia Seltos, and the likes. Yet, this petrol-powered avatar of the ZS EV is said to have ample differentiating factors from its rivals. MG also expects significant volumes from this petrol-only SUV. But, is it that competitive enough? To find out, we put its top-spec 1.3-litre turbo petrol version mated to a six-speed automatic through our extensive road test cycle regime.

    Left Rear Three Quarter

    Design and Dimensions

    8 / 10

    Left Front Three Quarter

    Looks are subjective, still, I'll agree, the Astor looks premium and something different, especially not boxy like some other SUVs. Yet, I don't find it to be a timeless design despite the modern looks. The dimensions in the table below show its size to be on par with the competition and it looks like a proper five-seater SUV and not just another crossover. That said, it’s got the shortest wheelbase in its segment despite being the longest car in that very segment.

    ParametersMG AstorHyundai CretaSkoda KushaqKia SeltosVolkswagen Taigun
    Length43234300422543154221
    Width18091790176018001760
    Height16501612161216451612
    Wheelbase25852610265126102651

    Interior Look and Quality

    7.5 / 10

    Dashboard

    Inside the cabin, you most certainly feel you are in a vehicle from a segment higher. There are many soft touchpoints on the dashboard, around the centre console, and even door pads. Even the dashboard top is adorned in leather. And this black and maroon-red colour, exclusively for this trim, looks surprisingly good. The buttons and knobs feel robust and premium with a nice touch of diffused chrome or brushed aluminium for the silver parts. The circular aeroplane engine styled air-con vents, a 'Brit' emblem, and minimal use of chrome, all reflect the tastefully done things inside. Even the lower sections don't have any rough edges.

    Front Row Seats

    Space and Comfort

    7.5 / 10

    Front Row Seats

    I'm 5’8” and even a little taller individuals can find a good driving position, and with ease — thanks to the electrically powered seats. The only thing to take notice of is that the steering is adjustable for rake but not reach. Nonetheless, the view out of the glasshouse is clear and the A-pillar also doesn't intrude on your line of vision. The leather seats are nice and firm, holding you snug with side bolsters offering sufficient support for good comfort. The same is the case for rear seats with a nicely reclined backrest, good enough knee-room, and space even in the footwell area. A flat centre tunnel and separate headrest for the third passenger is an advantage if there's a need to accommodate one. But then, this middle backrest is firmer than the ones on either side and might get uncomfortable on long journeys. Besides, it would still be a compromise for an otherwise spacious four-seater vehicle.

    Second Row Seats

    Boot space and Practicality

    7.5 / 10

    The carmaker hasn't specified the exact boot space but our measured figure of 491 litres advocates it as spacious. The area isn’t very high and is good enough to fit two big hard cases with space for two-three medium-sized soft bags as well. But inside, apart from a glove box, centre arm-rest storage, door pads, and seat-back pockets, there are not many other storage and stowage spots. The one for your wallet/phone has narrow access and you might have to use the cup-holders. Thankfully the door-pads get full-sized bottle holders.

    Gear Shifter/Gear Shifter Stalk

    Features and Safety equipment

    8 / 10

    Infotainment System

    The centre-piece is a high-resolution 10.1-inch touchscreen system housing all entertainment and convenience functionalities. Still, physical buttons on the dash are like god-sent. I didn't have to take my eyes off the road to fiddle with the screen for basic functions. The internal Jio SIM works well with online content wherever the network is available, but the unit mutes the sound for a few seconds at times, for reasons still unknown. We observed it on both the cars that we tested. The sound output is quite okay and would have loved it if it had a deeper bass. It also has the in-built online navigation by MapmyIndia, reducing the dependency on a phone. Even the internal IRVM gets a USB port, smartly provided if you wish to install and power an after-market dashcam. But as an owner, you'd still wish for ventilated seats, an auto-dimming IRVM, and wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto.

    Inner Rear View Mirror

    Now, let's get straight to the features that make it stand out from the rivals — level-2 autonomous systems and AI-powered assistant. The latter is a delight with Alexa-like usability, but its novelty wears off with the delayed response being a major put off. However, the tech features like a 360 camera, digital instrument cluster, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning, and emergency braking under MG Pilot proved to be useful while changing lanes, getting onto a highway from a service lane, and even in bumper-to-bumper traffic. The ADAS features worked even at low-speed high-density traffic. Still, the acceleration for adaptive cruise control could have been smoother rather than gunning as if the gas pedal was floored.

    Dashboard

    Interestingly, the asterisk button on the steering wheel connects to a call centre with humans helping you out instead of just an automated voice. Pretty neat! Right from car-related information to roadside assistance, plenty of things are well explained over a call. Furthermore, all the usual safety features are in place, like six airbags, all-disc brakes, ABS, EBD, Brake Assist, TPMS, ESP, TC, hill hold and descent control. In addition, there are heated ORVMs, ISOFIX seats, a digital key with Bluetooth, intelligent headlamp control, and rain-sensing wipers.

    Instrument Cluster

    Engine and Gearbox Performance

    7.5 / 10

    Engine Shot

    Now, this three-cylinder 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol engine is a refined one and remains silent for the most part. Its noise is heard inside only post 3,500rpm, but otherwise, its cabin is well insulated, even from road and tyre noise. The throttle response is good, the power delivery is linear, and you can keep it between 1,500-2,000rpm to move around comfortably. It even clocked a respectable sub-10sec 0-100kmph sprint time in our V-Box tests.

    Left Side View

    So, with 138bhp and 220Nm of torque at its disposal, it makes good progress, though at a relaxed pace and not something that will make it feel brisk. This even shows up in the roll-on times. The 20-80kmph sprint time of 5.53seconds in kick-down and 7.93seconds for the 40-100kmph run isn't quite astonishing. That said, it is adequate, doesn't feel dead at low revs, gathers speed with a good mid-range, and I never felt nervous while quickly overtaking.

    Right Front Three Quarter

    The in-gear acceleration tests depict the performance of this six-speed torque-converter gearbox as well. It upshifts almost seamlessly like a CVT and hence relaxed progress is made. On the other hand, while engaging lower gears it's just a little slow to respond. Yet, you can rely on this one without manual interventions in the manual or sport mode. The latter can be used to hold on to the revs till its redline at 5,600rpm before shifting up. Interestingly, neither the jerks were felt nor head nod movements were induced, thus ensuring a smooth drive.

    Ride, Handling, and Braking

    7 / 10

    Left Front Three Quarter

    MG hasn't officially announced the ground clearance, but in a mix of road conditions that we dealt with, never did I feel its underbody scrape speed breakers or touch the undulations. Besides, its softly sprung suspension absorbed all kinds of shocks, showing that it's nicely tuned for our road conditions. The McPherson struts in the front and the rear torsion beam provide a well-balanced setup for a low-speed ride. Still, it doesn't ride flat on the highway and vertical movements inside are induced. Also, there's enough body roll and a significant amount of understeer if you are too fast into a corner. But maintain a sane pace and it will ferry you around in comfort.

    Right Side View

    Then, to keep the enthusiast in you happy, the steering gets three settings — Dynamic, Normal, and Urban. And while these keep adding weight with the most in Dynamic, the Urban mode feels quite light. What's more, with less than three turns lock-to-lock, fewer efforts while parking is ensured as well. Still, the enthusiast in you will not be impressed much as the steering doesn't do much in offering great feedback. Even, on the braking front, 100-0kmph in 3.22seconds and 45.18m shows that the wide 215/55 R17 Continentals have satisfactory grip. Nevertheless, all-disc brakes do the magic of cutting off speed while providing a good bite and progression feel at the pedal.

    Fuel Economy

    6 / 10

    The ARAI-rated fuel efficiency figures aren't available yet. But our real-world tests show a city fuel economy of 8.7kmpl and 14.8kmpl on highways. It isn’t as fuel-efficient as we would have liked, especially with the rising fuel prices. Owners will have to be extremely gentle on the throttle to extract decent economy figures out of it.

    Left Rear Three Quarter

    Price

    7 / 10

    This 220 Turbo 6AT model is available in three variants only. The Smart is priced at Rs 16.18 lakh, Sharp at Rs 17 lakh, and the top-spec Sharp (O) that we have here at Rs 17.73 lakh (ex-showroom).

    Left Front Three Quarter

    Conclusion

    7 / 10

    Right Front Three Quarter

    The MG Astor has a nice appearance and classy interior with a tech-fest of sorts inside. Customers will be ensured of safety not just with the new systems but also with a highly-rated chassis from the ZS EV. It even offers a luxurious and smooth drive paired with the convenience of an automatic, all upping its value proposition. MG might resolve the finesse required with all the tech, but the paltry fuel efficiency numbers might be a deterrent for some buyers though. Still, amongst the herd of SUVs like the Koreans (Creta and Seltos) and Germans (Taigun and Kushaq), the Astor is a stand-out proposition. Besides, it's a worthy upgrade for someone who is driving a hatchback at present or who wants to move from sedans to SUVs.

    Rear Logo

    Pictures by Kapil Angane

    Specifications

    CAR NAMEMG Astor
    Variant220Turbo Sharp (O)
    ENGINE
    FuelPetrol
    Installationfront, transverse
    Displacement1,349cc
    Power138 bhp @ 5,600 rpm
    Torque220 Nm @ 3,600 rpm
    Power to weight100bhp per tonne
    Torque to weight 159.42Nm per tonne
    Gearbox6-speed AT
    CHASSIS & BODY
    Kerb weight1,380kg
    Tyres (F/R)215/55 R17
    SpareFull size
    STEERING
    Turning circle10.1m
    BRAKES
    FrontDiscs
    RearDiscs
    Anti-lockYes

    Test Data

    CAR NAMEMG Astor
    Variant220Turbo Sharp (O)
    PERFORMANCE & BRAKING
    0-20kmph1.09s
    0-40kmph2.36s
    0-60kmph4.09s
    0-80kmph6.24s
    0-100kmph9.30s
    0-120kmph12.63s
    20-80kmph (kickdown)5.53s
    40-100kmph (kickdown)7.93s
    100-0kmph45.18m at 3.22 secs
    FUEL ECONOMY
    City8.7kmpl
    Highway14.8kmpl
    Tank size45litres
    Range445.5km
    INTERIOR MEASUREMENTS
    Front
    Legroom(Max/min)860/590mm
    Headroom(Max/min)970/900mm
    Shoulder room1320mm
    Backrest height600mm
    Rear
    Legroom(Max/min)910/630mm
    Ideal legroom680mm
    Headroom910mm
    Shoulder room1220mm
    Seat base length460mm
    Backrest height600mm
    Boot
    Length/width/height880/1300/430mm
    Loading lip height810mm

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