Gloster SUV first drive review: MG Motor's tech-loaded battle tank wages war9 min read . Updated: 25 Sep 2020, 03:21 PM IST
Gloster from MG Motor is scheduled for a launch in October and is the largest and most premium offering from the company in India.
- To offer six and seven-seat configurations, Gloster is taking aim at the premium luxury SUV segment.
Gloster is a tank. There, the first shot has already been fired. Now for the long haul. The upcoming offering from MG Motor is an SUV of massive proportions but bigger than its physical presence is the weight of dreams and aspirations it carries.
For a company that is just a little over a year old in India, MG has shown it is not afraid of uncharted territories - look at the ZS EV - and nor would it be content in the trench warfare that the mass-market SUV segment has turned into. Gloster, then, slots in well with the promise of being the offensive machine with max firepower.
Too much reference to violence? Let's calm things down a bit and steer clear of metaphors as I seek to make sense of the multiple pages MG sent along with the review unit of Gloster, each filled with all that this upcoming vehicle offers.
I'll admit it was a bit overwhelming to go through all that MG is promising in the Gloster. Very overwhelming actually. And yet, each of these promises are clearly carrying the weight of expectations as the company pitches its offering against a wide variety of SUVs in the premium and luxury segments.
From how it stands and what is it like on the inside to how it drives and what safety features are on offer, here's a comprehensive review from the first drive test of MG Gloster SUV:
How does it stand?
Gloster is an imposing SUV. See all the photos I have added here? It's even bigger than what these suggest. Numerically speaking, the SUV stands 5,005 mm in length, has a width of 1,932 mm, is 1,875 mm tall and with a wheelbase of 2,950 mm.
Below is a comparison of dimensions between Gloster, smaller sibling Hector Plus and - purely for reference purposes, Toyota Land Cruiser Prado.
While Gloster is a massive vehicle, it also seeks to have a planted visual appeal. It isn't bland but neither is it bling. Dominating the front face is a large chrome grille which emphasized a more bulky appeal rather than a sharp one. For someone who quite likes the Hector's stylish front grille, I wasn't too taken with the one on the Gloster but the sharp LED projector head lights with DRLs, inverted C casing around the fog lights and the bumper with a dash of chrome under it all add a contemporary visual character.
The biggest, and literally, highlight of Gloster's visual profile is at the side where the absolutely massive proportions of the vehicle is best viewed from. The windows are huge and are underlined by a silver lining which is also present ever so subtly on the roof rails. The large 19-inch wheels also do justice to the vehicle's proportion - thank heavens because MG has a notorious habit of putting puny wheels on its Hector and Hector Plus, while the dual-tone silver-black alloy design is familiarly attractive.
Over at the rear, Gloster's wide profile remains evident as ever and while the tail light design seems eerily familiar, it goes well with the profile. There is a chrome strip connecting the two tail lights but it is the massive Gloster badge that seeks to grab eyeballs here.
Overall, MG designers have done well to give the Gloster a dominant appeal that is not buried under kilos and kilos of cosmetics. Here is a butch player that has no ramp ambitions whatsoever.
What is it like on the inside?
All of the massive proportions on the outside clearly translates into a whole lot of space on the inside of the Gloster. And frankly, I would have been surprised had it not.
The six-seater review unit I had - there is also a seven-seat option - gets segment-first captain's seats in the middle-row while the last row has regular seats for two. Let's start from here then.
Unlike Hector Plus where the last row felt cramped and appeared forced, Gloster's final row is a mighty comfortable place to be in. In fact, even on long journeys, family members confined to this space won't be found grumbling because while the seating position is upright, there's manageable space for at least two in terms of leg and knee room. Three abreast - just in case - will have shoulders grazing but the one in the middle can choose to stretch out legs between the second row seats. That there are dedicated AC vents and cup holders are a plus but I could not find any charging point for my phone.
Step forward to the middle row and that's perhaps the place of pinnacle inside this car. The seats are well appointed, offer good cushioning and there's more than satisfactory levels of leg and knee room. The armrests add a touch of premium feel while smart storage space for phones on the right seat and twin foldaway cup holders on the left are nice touches.
Passengers can also control the air conditioning from the control buttons set behind the central armrest at the front while there's a USB and 12V charging socket sitting just under this.
The large windows mentioned previously add to the sense of space and natural light streaming in from here and the ginormous panoramic sunroof seek to put the spotlight on the emphasis on premium-ness here. That said though, the use of hard plastics in the lower half of the side doors stands out, also because it undercuts the fine fit and finish job done elsewhere. And while storage space for knick-knacks are aplenty, the bottle holders on the side doors are unlikely to shelter anything more than a can of Coke at best.
Getting in and out of the seats here is relatively easy because of side step bar on either side of the vehicle while there are dedicated handles that lend a helping hand as well.
And over to the cockpit, the front seats offer the same levels of comfort as the ones in the middle. And then some. MG has equipped Gloster with driver-seat massage functionality while both front seats are ventilated and can be warmed as well. The driver's seat also gets memory function for recline, reach and for additional lumber support - a rather common feature in cars from luxury car makers.
The super imposing floating 12.3-inch infotainment screen is quite a delight to just look at and can be used to access and control a plethora of features - from navigation and apps to air conditioning and more. Combined with MG's i-Smart platform which has an embedded SIM ready for 5G when it arrives in India and capable of getting OTA updates, the Gloster once again stays true to the company's tech-loaded character. Plus there are 12 speakers.
The dash once again gets soft-leather materials which are also present on the side doors. But the hard plastics make a comeback yet again on the lower half of these doors.
The center panel between the two front seats is an elegant expanse housing the familiar - and striking - gear control lever. Flanking it on one side are buttons to control seat ventilation and controls for the drive safety functionalities on the other. Just below it sits a smart dial for the drive and terrain modes.
And there are plenty of those modes for a more controlled drive experience.
How it drives?
The review unit I had had a 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel engine producing 215 bhp of peak power and with 480 Nm of torque. Eight-speed automatic transmission unit is standard.
While Gloster has ambitions which go beyond the scope and scale of the likes of Ford Endeavour and Toyota Fortuner, at least according to MG, it is still important to highlight that it is the more powerful of these offerings.
Press the start button and the Gloster comes to life in a confidently calm manner. Press on the gas pedal and the SUV takes a bit of effort to get moving, even in the Sports mode. And while this is clearly a put off, also consider amount of weight and size that the engine has to pull ahead. Once it does get moving though, all of that power and torque takes center stage for a refined - if not entirely eager - drive dynamics.
A commanding view of the road ahead and all around helps the driver get a firm control over how the Gloster is made to behave and a nicely weighted steering is engineered well to offer enough feedback at high speeds while being as nimble as is possible while taking turns. As long as one is not pushing the SUV to extract the maximum possible thrill, even body roll remains under control while the rather stiff suspension unit manages to tackle most city speed breakers with confidence. Big bumps at relatively aggressive speeds though will be felt.
A ground clearance of 210 mm and terrain modes - Snow, Rock, Sand and Mud as well as on-demand 4X4 system claim to give the Gloster reasonably decent capabilities beyond where roads end. While I didn't put the SUV to the extreme test on tricky terrains, the mud tracks of Gurugram farmlands did give a glimpse into what Gloster could do with its 4X4 credentials. On the dusty tracks here, it mostly masked the minor gradients well and once again remained planted to mitigate thumps.
Back on the tarmac, I also put some of its heavily touted safety features to the test. The Lane Assist Warning system was on point, the Front Collision Warning was useful - the car issues a warning if one gets too close to a vehicle in front - while the Automatic Emergency Braking at its mildest level seemed to play its part as well. The intensity of auto emergency braking can be increased but I didn't due to overt concerns about the unpredictability of the vehicles in the front.
Bring the car to a halt and the familiar 360-degree camera makes parking the Gloster as easy as it can be in a vehicle as large as this.
Gloster is a bold move by MG to showcase its capabilities in the premium and luxury SUV segment. It offers a mile-long list of features, has safety highlights aplenty, is slated to be India's first autonomous (Level 1) premium SUV and has a larger-than-life road presence.
The SUV offers a whole lot of space on the inside and the cabin is upmarket. The drive itself, barring a few drawbacks, is satisfactory and the ability to do the occasional off-roading is the proverbial cherry on the cake.
MG is targeting the likes of Prado with the Gloster which means that the price point of the vehicle could be higher than that of an Endeavour or Fortuner. Between ₹35 lakh and ₹40 lakh is what I feel would make the Gloster a good proposition but anything much north of that - closing in on ₹50-lakh mark - could dampen spirits. At these prices, customers tend to buy into brands as much as the vehicle itself and, to put it in a brute and honest way, the MG brand isn't quite there yet.
Yet, MG is dreaming big, aiming big and the biggest SUV in its garage does bring a whole lot of options for the discerning buyer.