What is it?
Why I would buy it?
Feature list, second-row space, road presence
Why I would avoid it?
Heavy clutch, no diesel AT
Last year MG arrived in India with a bang by launching the Hector SUV. It set a new benchmark in terms of features, space and technology. A year on, to expand the appeal of the Hector, which is a five-seat model, MG launched the Hector Plus which as the name suggests is a Hector with additional seating and in this case, a six-seat layout with a seven-seat version expected to arrive at a later date.
In terms of exterior design, the biggest change is the face which now comprises of new LED DRLs, grille and a new fog lamp cluster. It is 65mm longer than the five-seat model but the overall handsome silhouette remains unchanged for the Hector Plus. The rear has got new LED tail lamps as well as dual faux exhaust tips to give the SUV a sporty appearance.
The Hector won plaudits for its street presence checking off all the right boxes in terms of exterior appeal. MG appears to have done a good job at cashing in and continuing that success with the Hector Plus.
How is it on the inside?
The cabin of the Hector Plus is similar to that of the standard Hector but in place of black and silver, you get dark brown over black lending a premium appeal to the cabin. The glass area all around is huge lending a light and airy feel overall, something that gets enhanced when you open up the dual sunroof completely.
Putting the Plus in Hector Plus are captain seats in the second row and a bench seat third row taking the total seating capacity to six. The captain seats are the same as the front seats so they have good cushioning with a good amount of side bolstering. The large wheelbase means you have oodles of space all around indicating no shortage of headroom or legroom. However, where the second rows falls a bit short is on features as the only basic equipment you get are AC vents with fan speed adjustment and a 2A USB charging point. Tray tables, rear screens, side neck support and even lower back support are all only available as official accessories for the Hector Plus.
The third row can best be described as an emergency/kids seating option. With the second-row seats adjusted to a position that I would find comfortable, it is quite evident that an adult sitting in the third row for extended periods would find it quite difficult. With the third row seats up, the boot space gets reduced to 155-litres but fold them down onto the floor and you get a decently sized 530-litres on offer.
The first row, in the top-spec Sharp variant that we have driven, gets a six-way power driver’s seat and four-way power passenger seat as a part of the deal. The highlight here is, of course, the massive 10.4-inch HD touchscreen display giving legitimacy to the “Internet Inside” badge at the rear. You get all the connectivity options, car control features as well 4G enabled sim card that allows you get live traffic updates, weather updates, navigation information, find my car, voice assistant and even a Ganaa account to stream music directly on your system.
As a selling point it’s a very good feature and one of the most comprehensive in this part of the market but when using it, in reality, tends to be slow to respond which can be distracting especially if you are behind the wheel and having to use the system. The climate control system has been integrated into the infotainment display which also makes for a good selling point but once again the slow screen means you will be spending more time looking at the display to adjust something that could be much faster done with physical buttons.
Touchscreen system and climate control aside, this top-spec model also gets a 360-degree camera, hands-free boot opening, ambient lighting, TPMS, heated mirrors and a 7.0-inch full-colour display for the instrument panel. A nice touch that we liked in the instrument cluster is the speed and rpm needles rotating in the opposite direction, a typical feature of British cars from the past.
How does it drive?
The MG Hector Plus in this guise is powered by a BS6 compliant 2.0-litre diesel producing 168bhp/350Nm and mated to a six-speed manual sending power to the front wheels. It’s the same engine in the five-seat Hector in the same state-of-tune and with the same output. As diesel go, the underlying gravelly tone is always present but the Hector Plus’ insulation is quite good and you don’t hear much of it in the cabin but do feel the vibrations in the steering and gear lever.
Step on the gas and you are greeted by a nice surge past the 1500rpm mark with a strong mid-range where most of the 350Nm has been concentrated, in fact, you can get up to 100kmph and stay there with the needle sitting below the 2000rpm mark. However, while the engine may be up to the mark, the clutch and gear shift actions are quite hard and that will quickly become cumbersome in urban driving conditions.
MG has placed a higher emphasis on the low-speed ride which the Hector Plus does with decent success. It’s pliant and absorbent with most bumps and imperfections getting done and dusted without much effort. However, the really sharp-edged ones will catch you out if you don’t approach them with caution with a jolt being sent back into the cabin.
The steering is light and easy to use but is slow to respond. There’s no getting away from the fact that the Hector Plus is a large car and this becomes very evident when you have to manoeuvre the car in tight spaces. The 360-degree camera is a boon in this regard but it’s only available in the top-spec Sharp trim level.
Out on the highway, the Hector Plus with its high centre of gravity, emphasis on comfort and visible heft is not the most nimble of cars. The body roll is evident but pronounced and with the slow steering it is a car you are better off driving in a predictable manner gliding from point-to-point which will reward you with good straight-line stability.
Should I buy one?
If you are looking for everything that the Hector has on offer but want more features, space and the option of a third row, then the Hector Plus is your deal. The car is good looking with heavy street presence, loaded with features that have redefined what is expected in the segment and offer more practicality. However, on the downside, it is not the most dynamic car to drive and the heavy clutch and the lack of a diesel AT (in this part of the market) could be a deal-breaker for many.
Where does it fit in?
The MG Hector Plus range is available in four trim levels across three engine and two gearbox options. Prices start at Rs 13.73 lakh to Rs 18.68 lakh (All-India ex-showroom) for this top-of-the-line Sharp diesel variant that we have reviewed. It is a rival for the likes of the Mahindra XUV500, Toyota Innova Crysta, Mahindra Scorpio and the upcoming Tata Gravitas.
Photos: Kapil Angane