Here is a first-drive review of the 2023 MG Motor Hector SUV:
2023 MG Motor Hector: What are the changes on the outside?
Hector has always had a road presence and body style that tends to dwarf most other direct rivals. Visually as well as numerically, it is significantly bigger than the likes of Hyundai Creta and Kia Seltos while also appearing larger than the Tata Harrier on many fronts.
So while 2023 Hector obviously continues to retain its proportions because it is essentially a facelift, it tends to benefit even more now due to a much larger front grille which reminds many of the Lexus spindle grille design style. Complete with significantly more angular surrounds with dark chrome finish, and with diamond-themed inserts, the front grille is the most significant update on the outside and one that elevates the appeal manifold. There is a minor update on the headlamps that are positioned slightly lower on the face, while the front bumper gets a radar for the much-awaited debut of Level 2 ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance System) on the model. The split-type LED DRLs have been carried forward.
The rear of the latest MG Hector now gets a LED tail light connect that stretches out on the trunk while the ‘Hector’ lettering is now positioned at the center and is bigger. The rear bumper has been updated - complete with a chrome garnish - and its cleaner appeal lends the SUV a more mature character on the back. From the side, however, there is nothing that stands out to signal that this is the new model with the SUV continuing to stand on 18-inch dual-tone alloy wheels.
2023 MG Motor Hector: Giant screen and a tech geek's delight
The Hector continues to be offered in the five-seat layout but there is also still the seven-seat layout on the otherwise identical model called Hector Plus. As before, both models will continue to be offered side-by-side and get the same feature list as per variants.
Now space has never been an issue in the Hector and the updated model continues to offer a lot of room for passengers in the back. The seats are typically well-cushioned - a bit too soft, some may feel - while the large windows and the recline-function on the back seats would still make Hector an ideal highway cruiser.
But the comfort on offer is often overshadowed by the sheer feature list that the MG Hector boasts of and the updated model has been ornamented with more still. A mammoth 14-inch vertically-oriented touchscreen on redesigned dashboard is the stellar highlight. It is the largest - in portrait form - for any car in any segment in the country and the HD display is as sharp as you would expect. This screen on this test unit though was in desperate need of an OTA update because the touch interaction was rather buggy. The response to touch as well as interaction through voice command was perfect occasionally and outright frustrating at other times. Quite a shame but one that can indeed be fixed via OTA, I believe. The same is also true for the wireless phone charging functionality that had a mood of its own. Our iPhone 13 either didn't charge or went from 43 per cent to 45 per cent during one particular 30-minute session.
But when the systems do work as they should, the Hector is at its absolute best with highlights like ambient lighting, climate control with ionizer and even the mammoth panoramic sunroof - all being controlled easily enough. Additionally, the Hector can now be operated and even driven minus the need to carry a key ,via mobile application. This feature though was not tested in this review.
2023 MG Motor Hector: How does it drive?
MG has chosen to continue with the 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol motor which is mated to a six-speed manual and a CVT, as well as the diesel engine with six-speed MT. There is no hybrid on offer.
This test unit was the petrol variant with CVT and moved on expected lines. The Hector remains an easy SUV to drive despite its big proportions and that's thanks big time to a relatively light steering wheel which makes criss-crossing through traffic easier than one would expect. Between 1,500 RPM and 2,200 RPM mark, the Hector is at ease but it still doesn't quite like to be pushed into excitement. Throttle responses are good but yank pedal to the metal and there is a very perceptible reluctance. This reluctance is only marginally better when the Sports mode is engaged.
The CVT unit also works on expected lines till one doesn't decide to inject ample doses of thrill. The numbers are ticked well and Hector ambles along like a gentle giant till, well, it doesn't. Here is a steady, stable SUV that is still well composed at high speeds. Considering its proportions though, body roll is expected and can be almost forgiven. Almost.
And perhaps the most intriguing aspect is the addition of Level 2 ADAS of which, we tested the Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Keep Assist (LKA). Both worked on expected lines although the LKA function got deactivated on every curve.
2023 MG Motor Hector: Verdict
The Hector manages to build on its strengths and a packed feature list makes it quite a compelling option for someone in the market for a mid-size SUV. Its road presence will delight many while the space and comfort on offer are big strengths. On the flipside, there is no automatic on the diesel unit while the infotainment screen needs an urgent OTA update(s) to work as it claims it does.
The Hector isn't exactly made for someone who wants an enthusiastic - almost aggressive - drive every single time. For everyone else, here is an SUV that ticks most of the right boxes.