We just went past the one-year anniversary of the MG Hector launching in India. A lot has changed since then. The market continued its journey southwards, but the Hector still sold 24,220 units till the end of June 2020. MG launched its second car - the ZS EV, in India, and then also dazzled consumers with an awesome display at the Auto Expo. And yes is now dealing with the Covid crisis like everyone else. as also the recent backlash against the country of its parent company - China's SAIC. But even before all of that could happen, even before the Hector made its official debut, or got its market launch here in India - we always knew that there's going to be a second car on the Hector model line. At the time we called it - the 7-seater. Officially it's known as The Hector Plus. And it has just been launched at introductory prices starting at ₹ 13.48 lakh.
Also Read: MG Hector Plus Launched In India.
What is the Hector Plus?
As it turns out the MG Hector Plus has launched as a 6-seater, three-row SUV. MG says a 7-seater version will follow. The MG Hector Plus made its public debut at the Auto Expo in February 2020, and has created some anticipation since. The car was to have launched in April, but that was all delayed thanks to the Corona virus pandemic and its resultant (and on-going) crisis; ironically also caused by the same aforementioned country. But oh well! More recently carandbike was the first one to tell you about this new colour exclusive to the Hector Plus. It is called Starry Sky Blue, and is the official launch colour for this variant.
How is it different from the Hector?
The big question is how the car differs from the regular Hector, right? The face is immediately different - with what appears to be a wider front grille. It actually is the same size as the Hector's but without the thick chrome edge. The glossy black finish gives it a more imposing, high-end look. The headlamps are also different, and are in a bigger hosing midway through the bumper. The DRLs or daytime running lights are two-row and have a wider thicker look too. All in all the Hector Plus looks more imposing and elegant - and definitely the more swanky of the two.
The MG Hector Plus is also just 65 mm longer than the Hector. Doesn't sound like a lot, because it's not! And I have another surprise for you. The wheelbase is identical on both at 2750 mm! It's really just the overhangs where the bumpers are a tad bigger that gives the Plus a little bit of extra length. So it's not really a 'stretched version' of the regular Hector. In a way that's not a bad thing because it doesn't really compromise the drive dynamics. But yeah it's a bit of a surprise because with 3 rows, you're expecting it to be a lot longer, right? When the Hector came out, there was a lot of criticism from me and others - on how the car deserved to have bigger wheels. The 17 inchers look a tad small in its wheel arches. Well, on the Hector Plus you still get the same. It would have been a 'plus' to have 18-inch wheels, dare I say even 19 inch! I say this not only from a styling perspective, but also to create that difference between the two models. It would have made the Plus look a little bigger, a little more robust and upright. And it would really have driven home the point about being 'Plus'. So that is a big miss for me.
Who are the rivals?
The MG Hector Plus will go up against the Mahindra XUV 500, the upcoming Tata Gravitas, but interestingly it is being pitched slightly differently. MG is actually taking it up against the Toyota Innova Crysta, Surprising, especially since that car is an MPV, while this one claims to be an SUV. The pitch is simple - better value, plusher and yet with the comfort of having those 3 rows. The captain seats in the second row means that it squares off with the top end 7-seater Innova. It could be interesting, since nobody has tried that before - offering SUV swag with the three rows, and better value than the Innova Crysta. What might go wrong for MG is the backlash against China. So there's a whole lot riding upon where that ends up, both from the politics or policy perspectives. And then there's the public sentiment. I don't know where that's going to end up either. We'll stay out of the politics and only bring you the pure car perspective - because that's what we are here for. And well the truth is simple - if someone is affected by all that, they won't consider the MG brand altogether, and not then get into whether they would buy this over an Innova!
What is it like to drive?
With the same wheels and wheelbase, as well as suspension, does it mean the Hector Plus will still feel the same on the road as its sibling? Mechanically, there's nothing different between the two cars. The entire setup remains the same, on suspension, drivetrains, wheels - and with the same wheelbase, the dynamics too. Yes there is a weight difference, but it is also apparent that MG took some of the initial feedback on the Hector's terrible ride quality to heart.
So the whole model line now has a better suspension setup. On the Plus, the ride is actually pretty good. Of course the car needs to feel more high-end too over the Hector, and so the plusher ride is deliberate I suspect - despite MG claiming no difference in suspension tuning. Of course the diesel powertrain and the manual 6-speed gearbox - that combo to me has always been the pick of the pack and so it is for the Plus too. There are fewer variants of the petrol and petrol mild-hybrid on offer than on the Hector. But all specifications and numbers remain identical.
|Specifications||MG Hector Plus 1.5 Petrol||MG Hector Plus 1.5 Mild Hybrid||MG Hector Plus Diesel|
|Displacement||1,451 cc||1,451 cc||1,956 cc|
|Max Output||141 bhp at 5,000 rpm||141 bhp at 5,000 rpm||168 bhp at 3,750 rpm|
|Peak Torque||250 Nm at 1,600-3,600 rpm||250 Nm at 1,600-3,600 rpm||350 Nm at 1,750-2,500 rpm|
|Transmission||6-speed MT/DCT||6-speed MT||6-speed MT|
Premium looks, decent road presence, and the upside of not having been stretched is, it's still easy to drive. Like the Hector the car gets front and rear disc brakes. Also like it, the car has traction control, electronic brake force distribution or EBD, anti lock brakes (ABS), a tyre pressure monitoring system, dual airbags, ISOFIX child seat anchors, and electric parking brake, electronic stability control or ESC, and hill hold control as standard. The top spec also gets a 360-camera view and 6 airbags.
Cabin and Tech
On the inside the car's upper specs get the large iSmart touchscreen interface and connected car capabilities, powered by its internet enabled embedded sim. And then there's the virtual assistant voice commands. The cabin appears plush and the dash is dual-tone with a padded faux leather element added on to it. This makes the car look more high-end than the Hector and also different from it. But what about that all-important third row? As all third rows go, this one isn't great either, I mean none of them really are - problems with cramped space, the seat-bottom height, lack of under-thigh support, and knees pointing skywards!
So it is all right for little kids and adults can sit here, but for very short distances only. The upside is that you don't have a very bouncy feel back here. The ride comfort in row three is better than I thought it would be. And then you've got the few little things are thrown in - cup holders, a USB charging point, and also your own little fan control back here for the vents in the third row - so that's dedicated to the third row only. You can turn them on and turn up the fan or turn it down which gives a much better sense of comfort and airiness back here. That's nicely done. And frankly it's neither better nor worse than the Innova Crysta on comfort.
The MG Hector Plus has 8 variants unlike the Hector that has 11. Prices are approximately ₹ 60,000 higher across most variants. The Plus is not available in the entry or mid variants of the mild hybrid petrol. The diesel is available across all four variants though. The company has said that these prices are introductory and will go up in a month by up to ₹ 50,000. All prices mentioned in the table below are ex-showroom, India.
|MG Hector Plus||Style||Super||Smart||Sharp|
|1.5 Turbo Petrol MT||₹ 13.49 lakh||NA||NA||NA|
|1.5 Turbo Petrol DCT||NA||NA||NA||₹ 17.29 lakh|
|1.5 Diesel MT||NA||NA||₹ 16.65 lakh||₹ 18.21 lakh|
|Sharp||₹ 14.44 lakh||₹ 15.65 lakh||₹ 17.15 lakh||₹ 18.54 lakh|
MG will not have it easy in the coming days - especially if the government continues to put pressure on imports from China. But that being said, its prospects remain robust, as the brand does have some aggressive plans in the pipeline. For now the Hector Plus is well positioned on price and features. So it is all set to take on the Toyota Innova Crysta, Mahindra XUV 500 and the Tata Gravitas when it arrives.