Why would I buy it?
- Feature galore
- Spacious and comfortable cabin
- Largest touchscreen in the segment
Why would I avoid it?
- No diesel automatic available
- Fewer ADAS features than Astor
Engine and Performance
The MY2023 MG Hector Facelift continues to offer petrol and diesel engine options. However, there are two important highlights. First, there’s no 48V mild hybrid powertrain this time around. And second, there’s still no diesel automatic option in the Hector. The 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine is available with two gearbox choices. You can have it with a six-speed manual or a CVT automatic. There’s no DCT offered with this update either. The four-cylinder petrol puts out 141bhp and 250Nm. Meanwhile, the 2.0-litre diesel has a healthy output of 170bhp and 350Nm. And since there’s no automatic but only a six-speed manual in the diesel Hector, the ADAS hardware is also eluded from it in the range-topping Savvy Pro trim.
We last experienced this 1.5-litre engine paired with the dual-clutch automatic which gave us no complaints because it was smooth, refined, and vibration-free, and it felt like you were driving something much lighter and powerful; the DCT wasn’t our favourite though. It was slow to respond at city speeds and you had to wait an eternity to get going after, say, encountering a speed bump.
However, all of these complaints have now vanished with this CVT. It’s not only seamless but also complements the engine quite well. As for the engine itself, it continues to be vibration-free and feels refined through and through. Being turbocharged in nature, there’s a good shove arriving past 2,000-2,300rpm and that makes overtaking easy.
There’s also an S mode on the gearlever which makes the throttle response slightly sharper and it holds on to a gear longer. So, for some spirited driving, you can pull into the S and get going. But it’s not an engine that likes to be hurried. Hidden in a button somewhere on the centre console is an Eco mode which makes little to no change in terms of driving. In fact, most of the drivers would almost always conveniently drive around in the standard D mode. On the flip side, the fuel efficiency of this turbo-petrol-automatic Hector doesn’t seem promising. We constantly saw single-digit figures during our shoot day and that might be a concern for the buyers with extensive running. However, there’s always the option of the diesel engine (sans an automatic though).
Ride and Handling
Just like before, the light steering is easy to drive around the city but a slightly more heft to it would have added to Hector’s driving dynamics. Although it goes almost three turns from lock to lock, it remains progressive. Moreover, the light nature of the steering might be preferable to those who want to buy the Hector over a more dynamic SUV. That said, Hector’s steering feel is perfect for daily commutes and occasional outings as it won’t tire you much even after spending long hours behind it.
An upgrade from the 17-inch wheels, this 18-inch setup on the facelift isn’t too bad. The ride quality is on the softer side and absorbs most of the imperfections well. Only the sharpest ones cause it to unsettle, sending thuds and jitters inside the cabin. But it’s far from a deal breaker. There’s also a prominent body roll when pushed around tight corners. So, the best way to live with Hector as mentioned by my colleague Venkat previously is – ‘constant, steady, and comfortable’.
This is the first comprehensive update to Hector since its introduction. The exterior changes include a new grille up front which looks imposing owing to its dimension. Then, MG hasn’t embellished it with heavy chrome either. We like the subtle changes to the tail lamps and the new light bar which now connects both the tail lamps across the tailgate. New to the back is the ‘HECTOR’ logo spelt out on the tailgate and an ‘ADAS’ badge on the right. Lastly, a new paint option called ‘Dune Brown’ is also added as part of this update.
Comfort, Convenience, and Features
The biggest change inside the 2023 MG Hector facelift in quite a literal sense is a 14-inch touchscreen infotainment system which is the biggest in the segment. Now, the older Hector’s screen was big, but it wasn’t as smooth and responsive and the interface wasn’t that great either. The newer screen is much more vibrant, and the large dimension makes it easy to operate as each button is large and well-defined. But it’s still not the quickest in the game and you will have to operate each button as you mean it. Some functions are slow and can get frustrating at times, especially when on the move.
The rest of the cabin has also undergone some changes in terms of air vent design and the centre console. You also get an all-digital instrument cluster now. It does have familiarity in terms of graphics and information displayed and that’s a good thing. All the ADAS in action is visible here so that’s convenient as well. When it first came out, the Hector gave us the Internet Inside lingo with many new-age features such as a command for various actions like opening or closing the sunroof or adjusting the AC temperature. Adding to these commands are more gimmicks now, like, you can open or close the sunroof in three ways – voice command, physical buttons, and a third button on the touchscreen. Then there’re new features like auto indicators, proximity locking, and smartphone unlock which can now be shared across different smartphones and voice-enabled ambient lighting.
The leatherette upholstery is done in rich white, but on the flip side, it’s quick to get soiled. That aside, the quality of materials looks impressive and there are soft-touch materials used at all the right places. We like the design of the gear lever here as well and it is much nicer to hold and operate than before. Space has never been an issue with Hector’s cabin and that continues to be the case with this update. Even at the back, three can sit with ease. These passengers also get three levels of recline angle for the backrest. Add to it the large windows and panoramic sunroof and the cabin appears to be a nice place to be in.
More importantly, the Level 2 Autonomous ADAS hardware has made its way inside the Hector facelift as well. It has become the newest car in the MG lineup to offer Level 2 ADAS and only the second car in its segment after the XUV700 to offer it. The ADAS offerings include adaptive cruise control with bend cruise assistance, traffic jam assist, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and intelligent headlamp.
However, the new Hector doesn’t get ADAS hardware like blind spot detection, lane change assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and intelligent speed control, which are offered in the Astor. Now, although the Astor is less expensive than this Hector here, it has 14 ADAS hardware compared to the 11 you get here.
Now, the MG Hector facelift 2023 continues to rival the likes of Tata Harrier and Mahindra XUV700 apart from some versions of the Hyundai Creta and Alcazar, Kia Seltos, Volkswagen Taigun, Skoda Kushaq and Jeep Compass. No other car except the XUV700 offers autonomous driving in this segment. Although there’s no diesel automatic option, the Hector or the Hector Plus will rarely leave you wanting more.
With the update, there are even more features, the cabin does feel more premium, and it is good to drive as well, especially owing to the CVT automatic gearbox. There is now added safety with ADAS and overall, the Hector is quite practical to live with. What else do you want from a comfortable family SUV?
Pictures by Kaustubh Gandhi