MG Hector Plus Review: Toyota Innova (Crysta) Finally Gets Competition After Years!

The MG Hector Plus is here to primarily challenge the dominance of Toyota Innova Crysta in the people mover segment. But is it good enough to worry the king of MPVs and that too at a significantly lower price tag? We drove it recently to find out!

By:Updated: Jul 16, 2020 6:07 PM

For many years now, the Indian MUV segment has been completely dominated by the Toyota Innova. Multiple manufacturers tried dethroning the Innova, but couldn’t even come close to achieving that task. Now we have MG Motors, a new carmaker which has got the Innova Crysta in its crosshair with the new Hector Plus that we drove recently and has now been launched in India. The MG Hector Plus directly takes on the likes of the Innova Crysta, the XUV500 and the upcoming Tata Gravitas. The big question though is whether the MG Hector Plus is good enough to worry the Toyota Innova Crysta or not. Read on to find out from our experience with the MG Hector Plus around Guragon.

MG Hector Plus – Design and Appearance

As far as design is concerned, a quick glance might not separate the MG Hector Plus from the Hector, but have a second look and it’s clear that the Hector Plus features an updated design. Upfront, the grille is now wider than the Hector and has an updated design. Along with that, the headlamps and the front bumper to have been reworked with and that gives the Hector plus a slightly sharper and a premium look. Overall, there is not a great deal of change in the design, but that’s not a bad thing because Hector is a relatively new model and a nice looking one.

As far as the new side profile is concerned, the Hector Plus doesn’t look very different from the standard Hector, but it’s around the C-pillar that you can see the panel features an extension, and it clearly looks longer. At the rear, there are updated tail lamps, updated bumper and a new skid plate which give the Hector Plus a little bit of difference from the standard Hector and it looks a bit wider and more premium. The new Blue shade only adds further to the impressive looks of the vehicle.

Now, one interesting bit about the MG Hector Plus is that since it features three rows of seats, it is longer than the standard Hector but there is no change in terms of width and the wheelbase is also the same. It’s mainly due to the reworked bumpers that you have the additional length, but what does the unchanged wheelbase translate into in terms of the cabin space and how good are the three rows of seats now? Let’s find out next.

MG Hector Plus – Cabin, Comfort and Features

Once you are inside the cabin of the MG Hector Plus, there is some bit of difference compared to the standard Hector and that is primarily in terms of the dashboard colour and the design. There’s a dual-tone, brown leather interior upholstery, and it looks quite premium. I like the shade and of course, it looks well and has been implemented well across the dashboard and the door panels. It looks premium and the quality is quite impressive too so no complaints here.

The highlight of the cabin is the 10.4-inch touchscreen which is very Tesla-like and has a very good visual effect. The screen is easy to use and the Hector Plus like the Hector and the ZS EV is a connected car. Hence, it comes with an inbuilt SIM and that means you get access to MG iSmart along with access to over 50 connectivity or smart features.This means you can do a lot of things, like remotely switching your engine on or off through your smartphone, Geo-fencing, getting vehicle updates, seeing how much range you can cover in the amount of fuel that you have in the tank and a lot more.

A new function is the Chit-chat functionality, which allows you to talk with the car. This means you can ask things like how am I looking today and who drives better, me or my wife? Now it’s a feature that might look good to have maybe for a day or two, but I’m not sure I would really want to talk to a car. So I think this is a feature I would pass off more as a gimmick, not as functionality.

That said, the overall functionality of the infotainment system is quite nice. It’s a good display and is loaded with features up to the brim. Apart from that the overall interior quality is spot on and there is a good amount of cushioning in the seats. The seats are quite nice and there is a good amount of support as well. You have an infinity music system with good sound quality and there’s this really nice looking panoramic sunroof too. So to sum up the front cabin experience there is not a drastic change but whatever changes have been made just uplift the overall cabin appeal a bit more.

The all-important middle row has the most important seats in Hector Plus, and this is precisely the reason why most of you will be buying this vehicle. The MG Hector Plus comes in a six-seat configuration so it gets 2+2+2 configuration and you get captain seats in the middle row and these are quite nice to be in. Just like the front, the seats get good cushioning and support and in terms of headroom also, there is no problem inside Hector Plus. Leg room on offer is impressive and the fact that you can slide the middle seats back and forth means finding the most comfortable seating position is a breeze. One can also recline the seat backrest so long drives too are going to be a comfortable affair in the Hector Plus. In addition, you’ve got rear AC vents and USB charging socket for added convenience.

Upfront, you get electrically adjustable seats, which is a nice touch and interestingly, if you opt for the variant that we drove – the petrol variant with a dual-clutch transmission, you get both seats upfront electrically adjustable. However, if you opt for the manual version with the hybrid functionality, which is the 48-volt hybrid, in that case, you will get only the driver’s seat with the electrical adjustability option as the co-driver seat is manually adjustable, since it has the battery underneath.

Watch our MG Hector Plus video review:

Getting into the last row of the Hector Plus is not that difficult but not easy at the same time. It completely depends on an individual’s size so it can be an accessibility issue for some. The seats are not really suited for adults and at best, even if there are kids in the seat, it is suited only for short duration or short distances and that is because the seat itself is quite low. That means that you have your legs pointing up so there is no under-thigh support and that can make things a bit uncomfortable if you’re going to be here for a longer duration. Apart from that, there’s not much of legroom on offer and the headroom again is just about okay in terms of comfort.

You do get third-row AC events, some cup holders, and the blower settings for the air conditioning along with a USB charging outlet. So that’s about it. The seat itself is not really comfortable, but yes as six-seat vehicle, the MG Hector Plus does offer you that functionality and lives up to the expectation of being a decent six-seat vehicle. But at best, this seat is suited only for short distances or short duration.

Now let’s move to the boot and let me tell you a new feature that has been added to the MG Hector Plus – the swipe functionality, which means you can just swipe your foot across the lower part of the rear bumper and the tailgate will open automatically and hence, you get hands free access. With three rows of seats up the available booth space is quite limited at best and maybe you can fit in two medium-sized bags here, however, you do have the option of folding down the seats and when you do that, you have the ability to completely collapse the row and that would liberate a lot more boot space. So, there’s a lot of flexibility in terms of space that you can work around inside the MG Hector Plus and as since this is an electrically operated tailgate so to close it, all you need to do is press a button and walk away.

MG Hector Plus – Engine specs, performance and Transmission

If you’re going to be in the driver’s seat of the MG Hector Plus, what you will get is a choice between a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine and a 2.0-litre diesel engine. The one that we drove is the turbocharged petrol engine with a DCT (Dual-Clutch Transmission). This is not the hybrid model but if you opt for the manual transmission, what you will get with the same engine is the mild hybrid tech that is a 48-volt hybrid architecture and gives you access to auto start-stop and brake energy regeneration. Now, as far as the engine is concerned, power output stands at 143 PS on the petrol engine in comparison to the 170 PS power output that you get with the diesel motor.

Now the one that we drove – the petrol version is quite refined to drive with no unwanted sound or vibration from the motor filtering inside the cabin. In terms of engine performance, the engine has adequate power to propel the weight of this vehicle and that means reaching highway and triple-digit speeds is not really a problem and you can easily reach those speeds. Of course, even in terms of quick acceleration, when you want that power, it’s there on tap so that is a good thing to have. However, it’s not a motor that will shove you back in the seat with the pedal to the metal but it’s enough to take care of your daily requirements be it in the city or on the highways. Coming to the DCT, it is not really one of the most refined units around and that is primarily because it’s a bit notchy at times and you can feel a perceivable lag from it and it doesn’t really function in a consistent way. Also, it’s not the quickest unit around so it’s not one of of those dual-clutch transmissions that gives you any sort of driving joy. It basically offers you the convenience of an automatic and that’s about it.

MG Hector Plus – Ride Quality and Handling

In terms of the driving experience, the MG Hector Plus is not what you would buy for driving performance, but for everything else, be it comfort, luxury, ride quality, the vehicle delivers well and speaking of ride quality, that’s really nice. If you are looking for a chauffer driven vehicle, the Hector Plus really performs well. It has got a soft suspension setup that means all the road undulations and the bumps are filtered out in a nice manner and you get a smooth and comfortable backseat experience. As far as handling is concerned, this vehicle is slightly longer than the Hector, but in terms of weight, despite the addition of the third row of seats, there’s not much of a difference.

There’s only a 12 kg difference in terms of the kerb weight between the MG Hector Plus and the standard petrol Hector, which means there’s not a big world of difference and of course, the wheelbase is also the same. It’s a vehicle that performs well, you can go around at high speeds and straight line stability at high speeds is quite nice. It’s not a vehicle that really enjoys taking corners at a fast pace but it’s not made to do that moreover. As far as ferrying people in comfort is concerned, that is what it is aimed at and that’s precisely what it does well.

MG Hector Plus – Price in India and Verdict

So should you buy the MG Hector Plus over the Toyota Innova Crysta and the Mahindra XUV500? The new MG Hector Plus is currently priced in India at a starting figure of Rs 13.48 lakh (ex-showroom) and the top variant is priced at Rs 18.53 lakh. As far as features, luxury and connectivity are concerned, these are areas where MG Hector Plus is miles ahead of its rivals and there is no competition at all and these are the areas where Hector Plus really shines. For a sake of perspective, the MG Hector Plus top variant costs Rs 4.25 lakh less than the top variant of the Toyota Innova Crysta yet offers a ton more features and connectivity.

That said, there are some things in the package that could have been better that I’ve already discussed earlier. However, with the price that it comes at, the MG Hector Plus hits the sweet spot and offers the customers a lot more features than the rivals, but at the same time at a significantly lower price. In a nutshell, the MG Hector Plus offers unmatched value in its segment today.

MG Hector Plus Engine specs, Gearbox
1.5-litre turbocharged petrol
Power – 141 hp
Torque – 250 Nm
Gearbox – DCT
1.5-litre turbocharged petrol hybrid
Power – 141 hp
Torque – 250 Nm
Gearbox – 6-speed manual
2.0-litre turbocharged diesel
Power – 168 hp
Torque – 350 Nm
Gearbox – 6-speed manual
MG Hector Plus Dimensions
Length – 4,720mm
Width – 1,835mm
Height – 1,760mm
Wheelbase – 2,750mm
MG Hector Plus price in India
(Ex-showroom, India, introductory, valid till August 13)
Petrol
Style: Rs 13.48 lakh
Super: Rs 16.64 lakh (DCT)
Smart: Rs 17.28 lakh (Hybrid MT)
Sharp: Rs 18.20 (DCT)
Diesel
Style: Rs 14.43 lakh
Super: Rs 15.64 lakh
Smart: Rs 17.14 lakh
Sharp: 18.53 lakh

 

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