MG Astor: Expert Review

MG Motors has taken the Indian auto market by storm with its ‘Car as a Platform’ concept. The British automaker’s latest product, the Astor SUV has created quite a following for itself with many segment-first features. But is the vehicle worth all the hype?

MG Astor: Expert Review

MG Astor pros and con

MG Astor: Expert Review

In a market where automakers are shying away from offering features due to the on-going semiconductor shortage, MG Motors is breaking the trend with its revolutionary products. The company has time and again proved its niche with concepts like ‘Car as a Platform’, Internet Inside and AI Assistant. While these features do add a sense of premiumness to the cabin, they struggle to function properly in Indian conditions and can become a niggle in your ownership experience. So today we are here to find out if the Astor is worth all the hype and if it's half-baked smart features make sense in the long run.

MG Astor Exterior Looks and Design:

MG Astor Exterior Looks and Design:

The MG Astor is the ICE version of the already popular ZS EV, which is a handsome vehicle to look at. One of the most eye-catching features of the front end is the large outward running ‘Celestial’ grille finished in chrome flanked by sleek LED headlamps and LED DRLs. In terms of dimension, the MG Astor is among the largest SUV’s in its segment and the muscular lines on the bonnet along with large 17-inch turbine design alloy wheels give it a butch look. Despite the large size, the four-wheeler feels small due to the crossover-like silhouette vividly visible from the side profile. Moving towards the rear design there is little that differentiates the ICE model from its EV counterpart. The changes are limited to the new badges and the fake dual tip exhaust.

MG Astor Interior Layout and Premiumness:

MG Astor Interior Layout and Premiumness:

  • Hits

The moment you step into the Astor’s cabin, you are greeted by a host of colours and textures, all of which make the space feel premium. The top-spec trim that we had was finished in Black and Sangria Red colours showcasing the sporty intent of the SUV. The overall design of the dashboard flows well with the rest of the cabin, making it a comfortable place to be in. The large and plush leatherette seat helps amplify the comfort factor of the vehicle. Other highlights of the interior include rotary air vents, VW like flat bottom steering wheel and electrically adjustable driver seat.

MG Astor Interior Layout and Premiumness

A neat addition to the Astor’s cabin is the large panoramic glass roof that not only allows ample light into the cabin but also adds a sense of luxury to the interior. This coupled with the best in class fit and finish level makes the Astor cabin a comfortable and luxurious place to spend time in.

  • Misses

To highlight the ‘Car of the Future’ theme, MG has provided the Astor’s cabin with an AI robot assistant that can answer questions, tell jokes and give you updates on the go. While the tech does sound cool, it feels more of a gimmick and fails to function ordinarily. In addition, the four-wheeler’s cabin is devoid of physical buttons for AC and infotainment controls, forcing you to depend on the laggy infotainment unit or the AI assistant. In our opinion this is a major hurdle in the ownership experience as the system fails often leaving you unwary and denting your otherwise premium experience.

MG Astor Interior Layout

Another concern with the Astor is its reliability and reliability issue on MG cars is not a new topic. At launch, one of the many talking points about the vehicle was its Level 2 ADAS capabilities. While it is still the only vehicle in India with Level 2 ADAS, the system fails to engage when required and has a mind of its own.

MG Astor Interior Premiumness

We also had a bad experience trying to use the radar guided cruise control. The system failed to detect the car in front or maintain speed. The same story continued when we tried to engage the Lane Keep Assist function. The system was very erratic in its transition and the sudden jolts hampered the overall drive experience.

MG Astor Interior

MG Astor Powertrain and performance:

The MG Astor is available with two petrol engines. First is a 1.5-litre VTi-TECH engine producing 110bhp and 144 Nm of torque. This unit is available only on the lower trims with a choice of either a 5-speed manual or a CVT automatic transmission. The second is the more powerful 1.4-litre 220TURBO mill producing a maximum power output of 140bhp with a peak torque of 220 Nm mated to a 6-speed torque converter automatic transmission.

MG Astor Powertrain and performance

While both engines offer adequate power, the 1.4-litre that we tested surprised us with its linear power delivery. The SUV picked up speed with ease and did not get vocal even when revved hard. In addition, the torque convertor automatic transmission worked perfectly in combination with the engine offering seamless up-shifts, similar to a CVT. Despite all its merits, the gearbox takes time to downshift and that’s when you miss the paddle shifter behind the steering wheel that would have helped enhance more control to the driver.

MG Astor Powertrain

As for ride and handling, the first thing you notice when you sit in the Astor’s driver seat is the commanding view around. Like most SUVs, you sit tall and finding a good driving position is easy.

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As we got driving, we understood MG’s attention to comfort. The front seats were large and accommodating while the soft suspension soaked in bumps and potholes with ease at city speeds. The electronic power steering with 3-modes also adds convenience and offers different levels of feedback based on speed. A peculiar character of the Astor is its intent to continue accelerating when you lift off the accelerator. This is done to reduce the sudden jerks felt when slowing down and needs some getting used to. The disk brakes all-around help bring the big SUV to a stop quickly without any worry.

MG Astor performance

As the longest and the tallest vehicle in its segment, the Astor comes with some demerits. The SUV feels floaty on the highway. The tall design paired with the soft suspension makes it roll at high speed and through corners. The vertical movement of the vehicle can be a dealbreaker for many.

MG Astor Verdict:

MG Astor Verdict

So after having driven the MG Astor for quite some kilometres, we can confirm that it offers more value than its competition. While its show stopping features like AI Inside and Level 2 ADAS feel gimmicky, the rest of the package creates a compelling case for the SUV. So, if you can look past the shortcomings and opt for a mid-level variant, then the Astor is a perfect choice for all your SUV needs.

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