MG Astor SUV, first impression: Loaded with tech, laced with style
MG Astor is all set to hit Indian roads in the weeks to come and stands as an ambitious offering from MG Motor India in a segment that is ferociously competitive and has a number of key players vying for every inch available. And while there is enormous scope because of the still rising preference for compact SUVs in India, each player needs to have its strengths clearly spelt out. For MG Astor, the strength would be in the technology it brings to the table - or road in this case.
(Also read: MG Astor SUV put to tests in Ladakh)
MG has always underlined its credentials of offering cutting-edge in-car technologies. Since its first launch in India back in 2019, with the Hector, the company has maintained that prospective customers can look at more than just the drive credentials in their vehicles. With every subsequent launch - ZS EV, Hector Plus and Gloster, the company has managed to bring in more tech. And because the upcoming Astor is essentially the ZS minus the EV credentials, it had to be loaded to the brim with features galore as well.
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So what does the Astor offer that promises to raise the bar higher? Read on:
MG Astor feature list:
Astor is promising a number of new highlights, some of which are a first in the segment and a few that are an industry first. Take the industry-first personal AI assistant system. “Hello MG" - that's all it would take to activate the slightly cute, slightly creepy bot on the dash and make it carry out commands. From operating the sunroof to climate control, from navigation and music controls to even telling a joke - the AI assistant can be your personal concierge on the move. And if that is not enough, it can even connect to Wikipedia to dish out any information one may need while on the move. Why? Just because it, well, can.
Designed by American firm Star Design, the AI assistant system is definitely a neat feature to have and while it basically seems to work on the same principle as Amazon Alexa, it is a fresh take on in-car assistance. Just that having those digital eyes constantly staring, constantly listening, is a bit, well, creepy. MG says powered by i-Smart Hub, it depicts human-like emotions and can obviously be turned off if and when required.
Beyond the AI system, however, there's a lot more that's happening inside the Astor. A large main infotainment - 10-inch - is absolutely gorgeous to look at and responsive to touch. It is once again well placed and is likely to cut out ambiance glare effectively. While it obviously takes care of music and navigation needs, it also puts out a 360-degree camera feed and plays videos too. Several music videos come pre-loaded but one can make use of the USB ports to add to the collection. There are multiple speakers all around the car to further enhance the experience.
The seven-inch driver display is all digital too and shows all drive-related information in a rich text, font and style format. And to ensure safety remains at the core of every drive, MG is offering first-in-segment Autonomous Level 2 technology. This brings together as many as 14 autonomous features, all of which are directed towards enhancing safety.
|MG Astor: |
Safety and Autonomous Level 2 highlights
|Lane Keep Assist|
|Lane Departure Warning|
|Lane Change Assist|
|Lane Departure Prevention|
|Blind Spot Detection|
|Rear Cross Traffic Alert|
|Adaptive Cruise Control|
|Forward Collision Warning|
|Automatic Emergency Braking|
|Intelligent Auto Headlamp control|
Then there is an absolutely mammoth sunroof which covers 90% of the roof area. As mentioned, it can be operated through the AI personal assistant or through the one-touch button as well.
Speaking of buttons, a press on the MG app is all that is required to lock or unlock this vehicle or even get the vehicle to start for the owner to drive off. Keys? Good riddance!
MG Astor cabin highlights:
Astor has a very high premium quotient when it comes to the cabin. There are three interior colour options - Sangria Red, Iconic Ivory and Tuxedo Black. Soft-touch leather has been generously used on the dashboard and the center console even if regular plastics do creep in on the side doors.
The seats are quite plush too and frankly, that is no surprise. The quality of upholstery stitching on the seats as well as the steering is top-notch.
Do note though that the while there are steering has mounted controls, it can only be adjusted for tilt and not reach. On the positive side though, the steering comes with mode adjust which means one can choose between Normal, Urban and Dynamic. What this means, however, will have to be figured in the first full-drive review.
|MG Astor: Other cabin highlights|
|Push Button Start|
|Six-Way Power Adjustment Driver's Seat|
|5 USB Charging Ports and 1 Power Outlet|
|Tyre Pressure Monitoring System|
Space too is unlikely to be much of a concern as the rear seats offer more than adequate leg, knee, head and shoulder room. There is a minor passage hump but it isn't tall enough to really bother the passenger seated in the middle.
MG Astor exterior highlights:
Now this is where the proverbial Achilles Heel may well be at. Not that there is inherently anything quirky or shabby about how this SUV stands. The celestial front grille looks quite like the Star Treck opening credit. The LED head light units with integrated DRLs are also quite sharp. There are svelte character lines around the car and even the LED tail lights, exhaust tips in chrome and the Astor lettering has been done with some degree of flair. The alloy design too is fresh.
But well, despite all the updates to the exterior profile, the Astor is almost identical twin of the ZS. The proportions are the same but that was obvious. It is just that at first glance, or even subsequent glances, it may not be quite obvious that this here is a new product.
Even if one goes beyond, the Astor doesn't have a mean and butch profile that many SUV lovers look forward to. Instead, it puts its priorities on a slightly more curvaceous and compact design language. There can, quite obviously, be many, many takers for this as well but I believe one of the best selling points for the Hector and Gloster - for instance - is the sheer road presence that the Astor doesn't have. Maybe it never aspired to either.
|MG Astor: Dimensions (mm)|
The Astor will be made available in five colour options - Starry Black, Candy White, Glaze Red, Aurora Silver and Spiced Orange.
MG Astor engine and transmission options:
Astor is being packed with two petrol engine options. First up is a VTi-tech 1.5-litre engine which puts out 110 Ps and has 144 Nm of torque on offer. This comes mated to a five-speed manual transmission unit or a CVT. Then there is the more powerful 220Turbo which produces 140hp and has 220 Nm of torque. It comes only with a 6-speed automatic transmission unit.
|MG Astor: Specs at a glance|
|Engine Displacement (cc)||1498||1349|
|Max Power (PS@rpm)||110@6000||140@5600|
|Max Torque (Nm@rpm)||144@4400||220@3600|
|Fuel capacity (L)||48||45|
Astor has the potential of being a smart offering from MG Motor India. It is loaded to the brim with tech-based features that may make some of its European rivals appear bare and challenge the Koreans. While it isn't yet known how the car performs on the move, its feature list could hold it in good ground. That there is a big focus on safety is a shining plus as well.
Looks of MG Astor, subjective as these may be, is something that may not play to the masses but if priced well, the SUV has the potential of really taking the fight to the long list of competitors it will go up against.