MG Astor - An SUV with a Robot??
The MG Astor will be displayed at the brand's showrooms from today, and bookings will begin shortly thereafter.
MG has had a good start in India, thanks to well-priced big-sized products like the Hector, a sorted electric car like the ZS EV and a large, blingy, feature-loaded SUV like the Gloster. Now, MG is going to have a second shot at the premium crossover market with the petrol version of the ZS, called the Astor.The Astor will be launched later this year. It will be available with 2 petrol engine options - a 1.5L naturally aspirated VTi Tech unit with a 5-speed MT & CVT, delivering 109 BHP / 144 Nm and a Brit Dynamic 220 turbocharged motor with a 6-speed torque converter AT delivering 138 BHP / 220 Nm. While these figures make the petrol engines seem potent enough, there will be no diesel or hybrid engine option available, which puts the Astor at a disadvantage compared to the highly successful Korean twins. Reason? The markets that MG is present in (China included) are predominantly petrol only. That's why, even for the Hector, it borrowed the 2.0 diesel from Fiat-Chrysler.
Design & Styling The Astor is based on the ZS EV, hence, it looks a lot like its electric sibling. The car was originally launched 4 years ago and the age definitely shows - the design is not futuristic or cutting-edge. It's longer, wider and taller than its main competitors, but has a shorter wheelbase. The Astor gets LED daytime running lights, LED projector headlamps, LED tail-lamps, plastic SUV-style cladding on the sides, 17-inch alloy wheels and roof rails. The vehicle will be available in 5 single-tone body colours = Spiced Orange, Aurora Silver, Glaze Red, Candy White and Starry Black. Build Quality, Fit & Finish The Astor has a monocoque construction and is built on the ZS platform. The car is solidly built. The doors, bonnet & tail-gate have a good deal of weight to them and the doors shut in a satisfying manner. Fit & finish are impressive with tight & even panel gaps. Wheels & Tyres The Astor gets funky 17” turbine-inspired two-tone machined alloy wheels with 215/55 Goodyear Triplemax 2 tyres, which look proportionate to the metal on top.
Safety MG claims that the Astor is India’s first SUV with a personal AI assistant and first-in-segment Autonomous (Level 2) tech. MG has partnered with Bosch for ADAS (advanced driver-assistance systems) in the Astor. The AI technology, 6 radars and 5 cameras can manage 14 Autonomous Level 2 features. Apart from this, the Astor is loaded with safety features such as 3-point seatbelts for all five occupants, 6 airbags, disc brakes all-round, ABS + EBD + Brake Assist, ESP, traction control, hill-hold, hill descent control, TPMS, ISOFIX child seat mounts, emergency stop signal, 360-degree camera, heated ORVMs, electric parking brake with auto-hold, adaptive auto headlamps, rain-sensing wipers and more. While the Indian Astor has not got a crash test rating yet, the Thai spec MG ZS Petrol scored 5 stars in crash tests conducted by the ASEAN NCAP, while the ZS EV performed similarly. We expect no less from the Astor. MG knows it will be a solid selling point over the Kia Seltos that suffered a big blow to its reputation after barely managing 3 stars in the GNCAP tests.
Cabin Design & Quality The dual-tone grey and sangria red dashboard is stylish & looks sporty! It is a very unique colour combination which we like. Takes guts to do something so different, but we think it's well executed. Silver, black and carbon-fibre finish inserts have been used in places. The dashboard has lots of faux leather and soft plastic. The interiors feel solidly put together without any poorly finished areas visible. Harder plastics have been used lower down on the dash, center console and door pads. While the driver’s seat doesn't get lumbar adjustment, it seems supportive enough. It can slide back far enough even for tall drivers to feel comfortable. The leather upholstery is of satisfactory quality. The center console has a comfortable leather-wrapped armrest, which is not adjustable, but is placed at a comfortable height. The door pads too host leather-wrapped armrests which are useable. On first impression, the ergonomics appear to be spot on with everything where you would expect it to be, and within easy reach of the driver. Cabin Storage The cabin has a small glovebox and storage bin under the driver armrest. Door pads get accommodating bottle holders, with room for other items. Cupholders and a cubby hole have been provided in the center console. The front seatbacks get deep pockets for rear passengers to use Air-Conditioning The Astor gets a climate control system with a PM 2.5 filter. Air vents have been provided at the rear as well.
Unique & Noteworthy Features The Astor comes with features such as a panoramic sunroof, touchscreen head-unit with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, 360-degree camera, steering with adjustable driving modes and an electrically adjustable driver's seat. It also gets an AI personal assistant and fully digital instrument cluster. Sadly, useful features such as ventilated seats and (shockingly) an auto-dimming IRVM are missing. Audio System & Sound Quality The cabin has a 10.1” touchscreen head-unit. The car has 80+ internet features residing on MG i-Smart technology. On top of it, building on CAAP (car as a platform), the car hosts subscriptions and services, including maps and navigation via Map My India, Jio connectivity, the first-of-its-kind Blockchain-protected vehicle digital passport by Koinearth and more. MG car owners will get access to music on the Jio Saavn app, along with an extremely unique feature of reserving a parking slot through the head-unit (powered by Park+ in select cities to begin with) and access to information with Wikipedia. Sound is delivered through 6 speakers. Another surprising omission is a subwoofer!
Rear Seat Comfort & Space Ingress & egress are easy. The rear bench is placed at a decent height as well. That said, the width is too less for three adults to feel comfortable. It's more suitable for two adults and a child. A center armrest with cupholders has been provided. The cushioning & padding of the rear seats seems alright with adequate under-thigh support. All 3 occupants get comfy adjustable headrests. The legroom is adequate. We set the front seat for my 5'10" driving position, and another individual (also 5'10") could sit behind without feeling cramped. Rear occupants get a/c vents and charging ports. Boot Space While MG hasn't revealed the size of the boot, it is accommodating enough to comfortably carry a family's luggage for a weekend trip. The rear seat splits in a 60:40 ratio. Folding the backrests down is possible for carrying more cargo, although you don't get a flat floor. The boot gets a light and parcel tray.