MG Astor: First Drive Review


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350Z

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MG Astor: First Drive Review

MG-Astor-Scenic-18.JPG

MG Astor Review Synopsis:
  • MG Astor is now on sale in India for an introductory price between Rs.9.78 – 16.78 Lakh (Ex.Showroom).
  • It’s available in four variants: Style, Super, Smart, Sharp and two Petrol engine options: VTi-Tech & 220-Turbo.
  • The 1.5L VTi-Tech delivers power of 110 PS, 144 Nm torque and available with choice of 5-Speed manual gearbox or CVT.
  • More powerful 1.3L Turbo unit produces 140 PS and 220 Nm torque. However, it’s only available in 6-Speed automatic transmission.
  • High-tech features such as Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) as well as intuitive Artificial Intelligence interface are some of the major highlights of Astor.
  • Exterior colors options: Spiced Orange, Aurora Silver, Glaze Red, Candy White & Starry Black. The interiors shades include: Tuxedo Black, Dual Tone Iconic Ivory & Sangria Red.
Note: This review is labeled “First Drive” due to our limited time with the car. An extensive review in future shall include in-depth information.
 
Thread Starter #2

350Z

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Introduction

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While certain established brands in India are struggling to survive in the challenging market conditions, one can’t overlook the fact that there are some relatively new names which have managed to swiftly capture the attention of Indian market in a rather little time-span. Morris Garages (MG) is one of them. The brand itself is British-origin but now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chinese-major SAIC Motor. So that’s where its models come from, regardless of the fact that they’re still marketed as British. MG Astor will be the fourth vehicle in company’s currently all-SUV portfolio in India. It’s a Mid-Size crossover SUV that’s aimed against the likes of Hyundai Creta, newly-launched Skoda Kushaq, Volkswagen Taigun and more. For now, Astor will be available only in Petrol variants. With several bells & whistles onboard, if given the right price-tag, it might as well turn out to be the segment’s next breakthrough product.

Looks & Design

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Essentially, MG Astor is the gasoline counterpart of ZS EV that’s already on sale in India. However, one wouldn’t have to look too closely to distinguish between both the models. MG Astor receives charmingly redesigned Full-LED Hawk-eye headlamps, which resonate more with Gloster’s in terms of “family-design” philosophy. Front bumper too has gone under the knife to become sportier with facets such as a recessed foglamp housing. The large and bold front celestial grille undisputedly is the most attractive front design element of the car. Likewise, primary changes on the rear design are refreshed taillamps and bumper with sporty artificial air-vents and unconcealed chrome-accentuated dual exhaust tips. I recently compared how ZS EV’s rear (especially taillamps) look alike to first-gen Hyundai Creta (Link). If that’s the case, it wouldn’t be wrong to compare Astor’s taillamps to first-gen Hyundai Creta facelift, albeit more good-looking.

Like we’ve seen in Volkswagen cars, the rear “MG” logo is flip-type and doubles up to lift the boot. Just below it is the stylized “Astor” lettering that doesn’t at all look odd and aftermarket as in Gloster. MG has decided to retain “ZS” badge, the original name of model while “ADAS” badge on the right ensure that all the major tech-features of the car receive due attention. It’s on the side-view that has a minimal difference, except for the reshuffling of badges. A classy “Brit Dynamic” with Union Jack emblem trades places with “Electric” badge, while “AI Inside” marking on driver’s door flaunts Astor’s one of the major potential USPs. On a related note, “AI Inside” surely doesn’t sound cheap unlike “Internet Inside” markings on other models. The silver side door beading on ZS EV has been transformed into gloss black on Astor, making it virtually unnoticeable as it merges with the lower-end cladding. Adding some oomph to the side-view are turbine inspired 17” machined alloys, wearing Continental Ultra Contact UC6 rubber with 215/55 R17 V-rated profile. Spare wheel, though, is a 215/60 R16 steel unit. Dimensions-wise, MG Astor is longer (2323 mm), wider (1809 mm) as well as taller (1650 mm) than the European and Korean twins, but it falls short of wheelbase (2585 mm) in comparison to Creta’s 2610 mm and Taigun’s 2651 mm.

MG-Astor-Scenic-3.JPG
 
Thread Starter #3

350Z

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Interiors, Features & Comfort

MG-Astor-Dashboard.JPG

The interior layout inspite of being similar to ZS EV is much diverse and invokes an energetic vibe. Its color combination is what MG labels “Sangria Red” and it matches well with our test car in Glaze Red exterior shade. The dashboard from ZS looks modern already. It’s the premium bits like leather-stitched upholstery, 25.7-cm HD touchscreen, full-panoramic sunroof etc. that further enhance its appeal at first glance. There is also a plethora of technological advancements incorporated in the car. Most intuitive, first-in-segment and up-with-time being the “Personal AI Assistant” that sits right on top center of dashboard. This smiley-faced device is an interesting inclusion that is likely to ensure you’re never bored on long road-trips. Upon getting inside the Astor, it revolves across from left to right, and waves a virtual “namaste” gesture to all. During the trip (when not interacted), its “virtual eyes” blink once in a while. This AI bot can perform several actions such crack a joke, share news, answer general-knowledge queries, control certain features, chit-chat (with understanding of 35+ Hinglish commands) and even greet on our local festivals.

The 25.7-cm HD touchscreen at the center of dash also has abundant functionalities to keep one busy. MG Astor has over 80 connected car features combining hardware, software, services and applications to ease the driving experience. Digital-key is one that’ll always come handy. It’s a mobile-app based authenticator to lock or lock the car and turn the engine on or off. Do note that it’s an “authenticator” only and not a key in itself unlike in some high-end cars. You can also make use of i-Smart app to control music, air-conditioner amongst other functionalities. Morris Garages has partnered with service-providers such as Jio (embedded SIM for internet and JioSaavn app for entertainment), MapMyIndia (for GPS-navigation), Park+ (search and reserve parking-space on the move), and Koinearth (earn safe-driving behavior rewards in the form of lower-insurance premium or higher resale value of car).

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The driver’s seat is 6-way electrically-adjustable but it doesn’t offer an option for lumbar support, while co-driver has to manually manage seat adjustments. Front seats are large, bucket-type and sufficiently comfortable. I’m 5.11” and would’ve preferred a tad more under-thigh support though. Front arm-rest isn’t slide-able either. The view from cockpit is clean, with unobtrusive A-Pillars and well-positioned dashboard. The dash-top is made up of soft-touch plastics, but on the contrary, the stitched Sangria-red art-leather isn’t as soft-touch as one is likely to expect. Plastic quality on doors and elsewhere is mediocre, not the best. Front cabin is equipped with enough cubby-holes to do the job, including the ones on door’s armrest, if you count those. There’s space ahead of gear-lever to keep cell-phone, apart from dual cup-holders and under front armrest stowage. Front door pockets don’t have too much space left, but for snack-packs, after keeping a one-liter bottle. Similarly, glovebox has limited capacity by nature of its design and is ideal for documents.

MG Astor has 5 USB charging ports and single 12V socket. Two USBs at front and two at rear, but it’s the location of fifth port that’s unique for the segment and a good example of how little attention to detail can make a big difference. It’s straight-above the inside rear-view mirror, making installation of dash-cam only a matter on plug-and-play. Many informed TAI-gers already have a dashcam in their car and such feature will further promote its use toward safe-driving. [thumbsup]. The rear seat is ISOFIX compatible and splits into 60:40 for convenience. There aren’t many storage spaces at rear, unlike front, apart from small door pockets and rear-center armrest cup-holders. The rear cabin itself is spacious and a large amount of credit for enhancing this sense of roominess goes to panoramic sunroof. Even with sunroof closed and curtain on, the cabin doesn’t feel claustrophobic at all. The rear bench is generous for two adults. There are three separate headrests but I suspect if the 3rd-passenger will feel comfortable for too long, thanks to carboard hard backrest (middle-armrest area). Elevated hump on floor doesn’t help either. Seat three healthy adults abreast and there might be a struggle for shoulder room as well. However, legroom isn’t a major concern, nor is the headroom even for tall occupants but as in front, I’d have preferred more under-thigh support.

MG-Astor-Rear-Seats.JPG
 
Thread Starter #4

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Performance, Braking, Ride & Handling:

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Under the hood is the place where almost all similarities between MG Astor and ZS EV come to an end. Powering the Astor will only be an option of two Petrol engines. Diesel motor is ruled out atleast for now. First engine option is the “VTi-Tech” (1498 CC) that delivers power of 110 PS @ 6000 RPM and 144 Nm torque @ 4400 RPM. It’ll be available with a selection of 5-speed manual transmission or CVT (automatic). Second option is the more powerful turbocharged “220-Turbo” (1349 CC), offering 140 PS @ 5600 RPM and 220 Nm @ 3600 RPM. This one will only have a 6-speed automatic transmission (sans pedal-shifters). Both engine variants have different fuel tank capacities too. Former is 48-liters while latter has 45-liters.

The gadget-laden list of infotainment features was only the beginning. Astor further utilizes the support of automotive technological advancements to assist seamless driving experience. Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) is Level-2 of vehicle autonomy. The purpose of features under this group is to help minimize human error in driving rather than to be relied upon exclusively. There are 14 autonomous driving functions in this vehicle, a few of which are described below. We checked most of them first-hand.
  • Lane Assist System: It has 3-modes which work only at 60+ Kmph. LDW (Lane-Departure Warning). LDP (Lane Departure Prevention) and LKA (Lane Keep Assist). The camera in front tracks lanes-markings and warns if deviation is detected. LKA includes both LDW & LDP features and it will override driver’s control from steering wheel to correct the course. This system does not work on unmarked roads.
  • Rear Drive Assist: It includes Blindspot Detection, Lane-Change Assist along with Rear-Cross Traffic Alert. This comes handy during everyday driving to detect obstacles which otherwise have a possibility of getting missed. At 30+ Kmph, upon attempting lane-change (with indicator on), the system will trigger an alert by beeping and flashing the icon on ORVM to alert about approaching high-speed vehicle. Similarly, warning is shown on reverse camera once the reverse gear is engaged.
  • Forward Collision Prevention: It incorporates Forward Collison Warning + Automatic Emergency Braking. The car detects and warns beforehand about a probable front collision (including that with a pedestrian). If still no action is taken, it automatically applies brakes. There are individual settings to adjust sensitivity and whether to auto-apply brakes or only show an alert.
  • Adaptive Cruise Control: Probably most of us have already heard of this feature. As the name indicates, it’s an “adaptive” version of standard Cruise Control. The system monitors the road ahead and accelerates or decelerates to maintain an adequate distance from the vehicle in front at all times.
  • Intelligent Headlamp Control: A simple but enormously important feature in India for road-safety. Based on factors such as on-coming traffic, it enables or disables high-beam to prevent blinding the road users.
  • Speed Assist System: Yet another handy feature for both, sedate drivers to prevent accidental overspeed and for rash drivers to force their speed within legal limits. There are 3 modes. Speed Warning, Intelligent and Manual. The first reads speed limit signboards from road and alerts the driver of probable violation. Second will warn as well as force the vehicle to remain in zone’s designated speed limit. Third allows to set limit as per own choice. You can also fully turn off this feature but remember, government-imposed warnings at 80 Kmph and 120 Kmph will still sound.

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Our test car was equipped with Turbo Petrol engine and we had a limited run that too on a flat-tarmac of Buddh International Circuit. So, a conclusive opinion on the overall performance won’t be fair. However, what’s obvious from the initial impression is that Morris Garages has tuned the Astor more for the laid-back drivers rather than for the enthusiasts. Push the accelerator hurriedly in D-mode and it’ll take its own sweet time to respond. The SUV in itself is relatively quick but don’t expect an enthusiastic performance. Situation although becomes somewhat better in S-Mode where upshifts happen at around 4,000 RPM.

Steering wheel has three modes to offer: Dynamic, Urban and Normal. In the Dynamic mode, it weighs up nicely for high-speed cornering. Urban mode, on the other hand, is dead-light and most suitable for maneuvering in congested locations. For routine city-usage, I’d rather prefer to end up with the “Normal” mode. The curves of BIC provided ample opportunity to corner at high-speeds and the MG Astor scores well as far as stability and control is concerned, but it’s the perceptible body-roll that might become a spoilsport. We couldn’t check how this crossover performs over bad-roads but it comfortably passed over speed-breakers and the ride felt planted enough at high-speed driving. NVH from this 3-cylinder motor on idle is evident but overall, acceptable. Thanks to all-four discs, braking is sharp and confidence inspiring. MG has stuffed in plenty of safety features (49 to be precise), leaving no scope for nit-pick. Some of them include: Six airbags, ABS, EBD, Brake Assist, Electronic Stability Program, Traction Control, Hill Hold, Hill Descent (first-in-segment) etc. All said and done, what’s confirmed is that MG Astor is here to up the game of segment considering the amount of technological-features it incorporates in a handsome-looking, attractive and practical package. However, best of all, despite of its deep-rooted Chinese origin, Astor neither looks like one nor feels like one.

MG-Astor-Scenic-8.JPG
 
Thread Starter #5

350Z

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MG Astor: Exterior Look [Credit: MG]


MG Astor: Interior Look [Credit: MG]


MG Astor: Mobile Key


MG Astor: High-Speed NVH


MG Astor: Exteriors & Interiors NVH

 
Thread Starter #7

350Z

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The bold celestial front grille is literally the “centre” of attraction.

MG-Astor-Front.JPG

The rear-design is slightly different from ZS EV. Taillamps, to some, might remind of old Hyundai Creta Facelift.

MG-Astor-Rear-View.JPG

There's an identical “Hawk” pattern on headlamps and taillamps.

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Both bumpers have been redesigned for a sportier look. These recessed vents give them a character.

MG-Astor-Bumper-Vents.jpg

State-of-the-art radar and camera systems contribute significantly to make this MG autonomous for you.

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Silver roof rails and a black shark fin antenna. You’ll find tasteful mix-matching of colors on the inside too.

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Gloss black door beading (unlike silver in ZS EV), making it virtually invisible on black cladding.

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MG Astor runs on Continental-make 215/55 R17 tyres. Thumbs up for all-four-disc brakes.

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Fuel cap is clearly marked with "Petrol" sign.

MG-Astor-Fuel-Cap.jpg

Exterior boot release lever concept is “inspired” from Volkswagen.

MG-Astor-Boot-Release.JPG
 
Thread Starter #8

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Boot space more or less same as ZS EV with deep pockets on both sides and an extra plastic mat.

MG-Astor-Boot-Space.jpg

Sleek ORVMs are heated (first in segment) and offer wide-view. They’ve lane-change assist icons too (not visible in this image).

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Front and rear doors open reasonably wide.

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The rear windows completely roll down.

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Auto-wipers can sense rain. Washer jets well-concealed.

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Tyre pressure placard recommends 32 psi under all conditions.

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There’s ample insulation under the hood.

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As on this engine firewall.

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No “MG” branding under the hood whatsoever.

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Battery is Exide make. That’s the fuse-box on right most.

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Folks at MG are fond of badges. Aren’t they?

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MG Astor in “Spiced Orange” exterior color.

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MG Astor in “Starry Black” exterior color.

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MG Astor in “Candy White” exterior color.

MG-Astor-Candy-White.jpg
 
Thread Starter #9

350Z

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You’re bound to feel lively and into the future every time you get inside.

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The additional stalk is for Adaptive Cruise Control. Pedal shifters are missing though.

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Steering is only height-adjustable.

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Silver button with maroon leather background feels too upmarket.

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Some might find both pedals a bit close. Personally, I had no problems.

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A-Pillar is unobtrusive and aids in providing an overall clear view from the cockpit.

MG-Astor-A-Pillar-View.JPG

Middle vents are sleek while corner vents sporty and more usable.

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Dashboard has a flat top to keep documents or small items on the go.

MG-Astor-Flat-Dashboard-Top.JPG

Glovebox space is strictly limited.

MG-Astor-Glovebox.JPG

That classy “Brit Dynamic” badge finds its way on the inside too.

MG-Astor-Leather-Stitching.JPG
 
Thread Starter #10

350Z

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Keyfob looks funky but gloss-finish on top is scratch-prone (as already evident).

MG-Astor-Keyfob.jpg

MG Astor has total six-airbags on offer.

MG-Astor-Airbags.jpg

Sun-visor mirrors are non-illuminated.

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Driver seat electrically-adjustable while passenger seat manual. Lumbar support function missing on both.

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Central lock buttons conveniently situated next to driver’s door latch.

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No explicit marking but only driver-side window is auto up and down.

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There's total 5 charging USB ports and one 12V socket. Two USBs at front, two below rear AC vents and…

MG-Astor-12V-Socket.JPG

Surprise. Neat touch by MG to ease the installation of dashcams.

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Flap down this joystick button to fold both ORVMs.

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Fuel and hood levers conveniently placed at RHS of dashboard.

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Only two cabin lamps provided. The round knob controls several stages of panoramic sunroof.

MG-Astor-Sunroof-Buttons.JPG
 
Thread Starter #11

350Z

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This smiley-faced AI interface keeps one amused with its gestures.

MG-Astor-AI.jpg

Number of settings of 10” infotainment screen could be confusing at first but is simple getting used-to.

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Homepage Widgets.

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The 7” instrument cluster is fully digital and replicates some of the info from infotainment screen.

MG-Astor-Instrument-Cluster.jpg

MG Astor has 360-degree around view camera. Its display quality is mediocre.

MG-Astor-Reverse-Camera.jpg

Twin cup-holders at front.

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Front armrest isn’t slide-able and offers little under-storage.

MG-Astor-Front-Armrest.jpg

The rear cup holders can be concealed. Small door pockets are the only storage space at rear apart from them.

MG-Astor-Rear-Armrest.jpg

Inside rear view mirror provides decent visibility but...

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It’s the three rear headrests which could hamper the vision when up.

MG-Astor-Rear-Seat-Headrests.jpg

Full panoramic sunroof means lots of roominess and abundant natural light inside.

MG-Astor-Panoramic-Sunroof.JPG

No independent rear AC controls. Notice USB port right below the vents.

MG-Astor-Rear-AC-Vents.JPG

Legroom is adequate. This image shows front seat adjusted for 5.11”.

MG-Astor-Rear-Legroom.JPG

Middle-row passenger won’t be too comfortable due to a hard backrest and elevated floor hump.

MG-Astor-Floor-Hump.JPG

Spare wheel is a size smaller and surprisingly of different make (Apollo).

MG-Astor-Spare-Wheel.JPG

Disclaimer: This review was performed at an event hosted by MG Motor India.

© TheAutomotiveIndia.com. Republishing the text or pictures anyway without prior written permission of our authorities is strictly forbidden.​
 

Nairrk

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MG Astor Compact SUV Launched In India

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MG Motor India has launched the new Astor compact SUV in India at a starting price of ₹ 9.78 lakh for the VTi-Tech manual trim, going up to ₹ 16.78 lakh for the range-topping Sharp trim. All prices are ex-showroom. The Level 2 ADAS safety features will be available as an option on the VTi-Tech Sharp CVT and 220 Sharp AT variants. The 2021 MG Astor is the Chinese automaker's fifth model to go on sale in India and it is essentially the petrol-powered version of the MG ZS EV. It is also the brand's most affordable offering yet.

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