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Morris Garages made a name for themselves in India when they launched the MG Hector SUV during the middle of last year. The SUV was offered in four variants and two engine configurations and soon became a crowd favourite.
The Hector SUV had massive road presence, came loaded with features, and featured the brand's AI-assisted i-Smart connected technology - making it the first AI-enabled SUV in the country.
Fast forward to June this year, the brand has launched the MG Hector Plus. Essentially a six-seater, the Hector Plus SUV arrives with design changes to the exterior and the interiors of the vehicle, helping it stand apart from the Hector five-seater.
We got a chance to drive the MG Hector Plus Diesel variant in Pune, and here are our first-drive impressions.
Design And Styling
MG has brought about changes to the overall design and styling of the Hector Plus, helping it stand out from its five-seater sibling. The SUV looks more premium to look at, and looks a whole lot ‘more' than the brand's other offerings.
Just like the five-seater Hector model, the Plus is a well designed SUV that has a commanding presence. The SUV shares its width, height, and wheelbase with the standard Hector five-seater SUV at 1,835mm, 1,760mm, and 2,720mm, respectively.
However, the first thing one notices is the length of the MG Hector Plus. It stands 65mm longer at 4,720mm over the five-seater that measures in at 4,655mm.
The front of the SUV features a new chrome studded grille sans the chrome surround seen on the Hector SUV. The bumpers have been redesigned, but continue to house new headlamps, dynamic turn signal indicators, and fog lamps.
The MG badge sits boldly at the center of the grille, and has a camera mounted under it to enhance driving safety. The scuff plate and the air dam have been redesigned as well, bringing more panache to the front fascia.
The Hector Plus SUV has a fantastic side profile that is well defined, and rather robust. A chrome strip runs from the A pillar all the way to the D pillar adding some contrast.
There are chrome elements at the door handles as well, including the push button lock and unlock button at the front door handles. There is also a chrome highlight at the footboard that features the MG name.
The roof rails are absolutely robust and have been designed to carry a fairly large amount of weight. The vehicle also features a shark fin antenna.
The rear part of the Hector Plus SUV features a redesigned bumper, LED tail lamps, a redesigned boot lid, and an electronic tailgate. An absolutely fantastic feature is that one can swipe their foot under the scuff plate to open the tailgate as well.
Morris Garages has done all it could to make the interiors plush and comfortable. From premium materials to the excitement one feels when looking at their own private sky, MG has catered for it all.
The Hector Plus' dashboard is finished in high quality materials and features leather elements that add to the premium value of the SUV.
The SUV's multifunctional leather wrapped steering wheel feels solid, and offers excellent feedback. It allows for volume control, calling functions, a push to talk button, and cruise control.
The dashboard features two horizontally mounted air conditioning vents at either end, and two vertically stacked vents on either side of the 10.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system.
The touchscreen infotainment system is easy to use thanks to its simple and efficient layout. The system also features the newest iteration of MG's i-Smart Connected technology that now offers a ‘chit-chat' feature.
The new feature allows for one to have a totally meaningless conversation with the car - quite entertaining when one is driving alone.
MG's i-Smart Connected technology brings over 55 connected car features to the SUV. The system features a machine-to-machine embedded SIM card that is 5G ready.
Key features include Geofencing, find my car, a voice assistant, remote functions for start/ stop, air conditioning, & lock and unlock, an emergency call feature. The system also supports over-the-air updates.
The Hector Plus arrives with eight Infinity speakers and tweeters that are fantastic. The speakers are able to handle any genre of music and all we heard was music at any volume - no vibrations, no static.
The SUV arrives with power adjustable front row seats that are finished in Smoked Sepia Brown Leather, and are very comfortable. There isn't any doubt that the seats are built for road trips.
And speaking of, the Hector plus has extremely comfortable captain seats at the second row. The seats slide and recline, and have their own arm rests, offering passengers personal space.
The empty portion between the captain seats are almost like a corridor, allowing ‘the kids' to access the third row seats. The third row seats have been designed for child passengers.
There is limited leg room between the second and third rows making it a tight and uncomfortable for adults. The seats feature a 50:50 split and can be folded independently - offering multiple configurations depending on the need. The third row seats also feature air conditioning controls.
The highlight of the MG Hector Plus SUV is its dual pane panoramic sunroof. The roof can be opened at a touch of a button, but opens in two phases, allowing for half the sunroof to be opened at first, and the other half when the button is pushed again.
The dual pane sunroof is spectacular and lucid, giving one the impression of a very spacious and airy cabin. Driving with the sunroof open is an absolute joy, especially during the monsoon.
Practicality, Comfort & Boot Space
SUVs are generally designed to be practical, very comfortable, and usually come with excellent boot space. From ensuring maximum comfort and personal space to the ability to configure boot space, the Hector is a truly Plus-sized car.
The driver and front passenger seats are absolutely comfortable and offer excellent thigh support. The second-row seats too offer excellent comfort. The independent armrests and the small corridor between the seats offers passengers more freedom and personal space.
The third-row seats offer limited legroom and have been designed specifically for child passengers. Should the situation allow for it, we think the third row is best left folded all the time as it opens up a lot of room for luggage.
The MG Hector Plus SUV features a small boot that has a payload capacity of 155-litres in comparison to the standard model's 587-litres. However, with the third row folded down, space increases significantly and allows for more luggage to be ferried.
Ingress and egress is easy for front-row occupants but is a little complicated for the second-row occupants if the seats haven't been pushed far enough.
This makes for less room for third-row child occupants. Ingress and egress are relatively easy for child occupants at the third row but is very complicated for adult occupants.
Engine Performance & Driving Impressions
The MG Hector Plus is available with a choice of two engine options: a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine that is available in a petrol-hybrid variant as well.
Both petrol variants produce 141bhp and 250Nm of torque. Transmission options include a six-speed manual and a DCT. The hybrid variant, however, features only a six-speed manual.
The second option is a 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine that produces 168bhp and 350Nm of torque. The engine comes mated to a six-speed manual transmission.
With the technical specifications out of the way, let's get into how these numbers actually fare in real-world conditions. We had the MG Hector Plus for just a short while and hence got to drive just the diesel-powered variant.
The diesel engine on the MG Hector Plus instantly feels familiar to drive. This is mainly because the Fiat-sourced 2.0-litre unit is available in a number of other vehicles, including the five-seater Hector from MG Motor as well.
Not much has changed in terms of its performance. The diesel unit continues to offer good levels of performance across the rev range. The power delivery is suited both for daily city driving as well as long highway cruises.
Majority of the torque kicks in early at around the 1700rpm mark, this aids in quick and easy overtakes in city traffic. The power delivery then continues into the mid-range as well, which also allows for gentle cruising on the highway.
The clutch does feel light initially, however, in stop-and-go traffic conditions it can get a bit uncomfortable and takes some time getting used to. The gear shifts are smooth slotting into place easily, with not much travel between shifts.
The suspension feels a bit softer on the Plus as compared to the five-seater Hector SUV. This gives the Hector Plus a more premium ride, allowing it to glide over road bumps, potholes and another rough terrain with ease. Braking is excellent, the disc brakes on all four wheels offer good bite, bringing the mammoth SUV weighing upwards of 1700kg, to a stop pretty quickly.
The steering is also light and can be used to manoeuvre the six-seater SUV easily around tight corners and traffic conditions of the city. Out on the highway, however, the steering does fail to weigh up accordingly, hampering driving confidence at high speeds.
Another issue we found is the noticeable amount of body roll on the Hector Plus. The enormous dimensions of the SUV, along with the comparatively skinny tyres, does offer enough body roll to shake up your confidence while taking tight corners at high speeds.
|Engine Specs||Petrol||Petrol Hybrid||Diesel|
Features & Safety Equipment
The MG Hector Plus comes packed with features, both to its exteriors and interiors. Here are some of the key features on offer on the Hector Plus, most of which are standard across all variants:
- Remote Keyless Entry
- Second Row Captain Seats With Recline & Slide Functions
- Third Row 50:50 Split Seats
- Second And Third Row AC Vents
- Driver's Armrest With Storage & 12V Power Outlet
- Power Adjustable ORVMs
- Front & Rear Fast Charging Ports
- Cooled Glove Box
The brand also takes safety to heart and has loaded the MG Hector Plus with safety features that one expects from a vehicle in this segment. Some of these safety features include:
- Up To Six Airbags
- Electronic Stability Program
- ABS With EBD
- Rear Parking Sensors
- 360-Degree Camera (available on the Sharp Variant)
- ISOFIX Child Seat Anchors
- High Speed Warning System
- Speed Sensing Auto Door Locks
- Cornering Fog Lamps
- Traction Control
The 360-degree camera uses four fisheye cameras at the front, the rear, and on both the ORVMs. The onboard software stitches the images and projects them on to the infotainment system, giving the driver a bird's eye perspective of the SUV.
The 360-degree camera is particularly useful in tight parking spaces, and also helps prevent collisions with pedestrians.
Variants, Colours & Pricing
The MG Hector Plus is available in a choice of four variants: Style, Super, Smart, and Sharp. Prices start at Rs 13.49 lakh for the base petrol variant and go up all the way to Rs 18.54 lakh for the top-end ‘Sharp' diesel trim. Prices mentioned are ex-showroom, India.
The vehicle is available in a choice of six colours: Starry Sky Blue, Glaze Red, Burgundy Red, Starry Black, Candy White, and Aurora Silver.
Competition & Fact Check
According to Morris Garages the Hector Plus will be a direct rival to Toyota's Innova Crysta MPV, but will also rival other six and seven-seater SUVs such as the soon to be launched Tata Gravitas.
|Competitors/Specs||MG Hector Plus||Toyota Innova Crysta||Tata Gravitas|
|Engine||1.5 Petrol/2.0 Diesel||2.7 Petrol/2.4 Diesel||2.0 Diesel|
|Price (ex-showroom)||Rs 13.49-18.54 Lakh||Rs 15.67 - Rs 24.68 Lakh||*TBA|
The MG Hector Plus at Rs 13.49 lakh (ex-showroom) is built well, drives well, and has an extremely comfortable cabin. Especially for someone in the market for captain seats in the second row and a roomy cabin to stretch out; this is offered in the Innova Crysta at Rs 15.66 lakh (ex-showroom). The third-row in the Hector Plus aren't the most comfortable for adults, but it works quite well for larger families with kids.
Overall, the Hector Plus is an enhanced version of the Hector, especially with premium interior and subtle design changes.