It’s proven; our brain has a discerning taste for size and we tend to adore things that are colossal. We like our screens to be big – be it our phones or TVs, we want our houses to be big, our paychecks to reflect some big numbers and our investment returns to be even bigger. But does this imply we fancy all things big? Reflect back at the commodities you’ve picked and I’ll leave the realisation to sink in. Concerning, isn’t it? But it does not always hold true. Case in point; automobiles being big, boxy and mundane.
Neither was I overly excited to go test another SUV – there’s just so much that can be done to their designs and despite how safe you feel inside, they are fundamentally flawed with their tall ladder-frame construction. While awaiting the Gloster’s arrival at the dealership I was dabbling around with their virtual configurator – new ways of customising cars. Delayed deliveries are industry norms I tell you, and after a few cups of coffee the Gloster finally arrived and immediately intrigued me with it’s strong blue tinge around the cool white glow of the headlamps. The rest of the SUV merged neatly into the dark and the light showers forced me to jump straight in, leaving the exteriors to be explored at a later stage.
First impressions first, this genuinely felt like an expensive vehicle, surpassing my expectations from it. The first contact with the seat felt a bit firm but then there was so much else to admire while I drove it back home – that massive horizontally mounted touchscreen infotainment system which is capable of a zillion things, the yacht inspired gear lever selector, the ambient lighting and the sill lighting as well. Okay, the instrument cluster felt a bit too toyish with it’s graphics but that’s just a matter of getting used to. The only hassle was discovering the home button on the infotainment system – it’s placed on the far left and that took ages to be found in the dark. Literally the next morning!
That’s when I first admired the Gloster in its full glory. Yes, it sure is a massive box on four wheels but it’s quite elegant at doing that. There aren’t any loud design lines that scream attention – minus the Gloster insignia splashed on the tailgate, and the proportions are quite friendly to the eye. First up is that massive grille with three bold and chunky bars that run across – very muscular. You’d notice two extensions from the grille that run through the headlamp cluster and then there are the close-knit fog lamp housing and contrasting skid plate to complete the front facia. Spruce. The bonnet does flaunt some strong and crip character lines but looks fairly flat from a distance.
The side is where the dimensions are made evident, it’s a good two-minute stroll from the front end of the Gloster to the end I reckon. The dual-tone, multi-spoke alloys wrapped in 255/55 section tyres give it a sure-footed look. Those massive ORVMs wear a silver garnish and just underneath that is the Land Rover inspired faux vent with a Brit Dynamics badge. Trying too hard to show the European connection? Maybe. The factory-installed side steps are neatly integrated along the length of the wheelbase and you’d really like the brushed finish on the window garnish that cleverly merges with the roof rails to make it look like a single cohesive unit.
The rear is where things are the most interesting starting from the quad exhaust tips (it’s twin piped), the slim LED fog lamp that runs between them and is housed on a gloss black faux diffuser. The Gloster badging is massive but suits the colossal dimensions of the SUV and to make it recognizable as an MG, there is that ‘Internet Inside’ badging. The boxy squared-off tailgate makes it look like a brick but that translates to enormous space on the inside. The boot can hold a few small suitcases with all three seats up and that’s really good for those long-distance travels. The rear seat splits 60:40 allowing for a more versatile seating configuration.
Accessing the third row is a bit of a squeeze from between the captain chairs but once you are back there you’d appreciate the generous amount of space even by segment standards. The large windows do aid in making things roomy and the panoramic sunroof adds to that. On offer are rear-mounted AC vents, cup holders, a 12V socket and one USB charging port as well. Kids and shorter occupants would be quite happy.
Back to the captain chairs – the tan brown leatherette wrapped seats with a very interesting diamond stitching pattern invite you to a very plush setting on the inside. You do get retractable cup holders on one chair and a slot to place your phones on the other. Chauffeur driven customers will certainly appreciate the two-way adjustable headrests that also have a nice contour to hold your head steady. Dedicated air-con control with three-zone climate control is a nifty touch and there’s good visibility all around from those large windows that replicate the ones in your bedroom. You would miss the curtains though, the Gloster doesn’t get sun visors.
The Gloster compensates for that by pushing the drivers seat backwards to help with the ingress and egress. You sit nice and high and the 12-way adjustable driver’s seat lets you find a comfortable spot despite the firm cushioning. It also pampers you with a message function, single-mode, single-seat. The view outside is nice and clutter-free with no massive screens sitting in your line of vision. This commanding driving position is what weakens my knees. Everywhere you touch there’s soft-touch materials and interesting inlays of patterns and textures – it really is impressive especially if you step inside it straight after the Fortuner. The horizontally mounted AC vents, sleek design lines and the wide central partition with those array of buttons just accentuates the width of the cabin.
Thumb the start/stop button and the 2-litre twin-turbocharged diesel engine comes to life without the typical truck-like feel. This unit is an in-house mil and I have to say it’s rather smooth and refined. Vibrations are completely left to the engine bay, nothing is passed onto the cabin. Twin-turbocharging ensures there isn’t that massive turbo lag, the smaller turbo assists the bigger one to minus out the initial power absence and spreads the torque linearly throughout the usable rev range. No sudden bursts of power, no sudden surge in torque and that could be deceptive at times, but by no means does the Gloster feel underpowered or sluggish. Foot down, the gearbox will take a few seconds to register and it lunges forward rather quickly.
The shifts are smooth and the eight-speed torque convertor does compliment the engine well whilst a relaxed laid back cruise. Heavy right foot actions will not reward you with lightning-fast shifts but they aren’t too bad either. You’ll definitely appreciate the smooth-shifting gearbox along with the intelligent four-wheel drive system with terrain modes and a very capable rear differential that incorporates a BorgWarner transfer case. That, coupled with the dual helix independent front suspension and five-link integral rear suspension make it adequately capable off the road. The long-wheelbase means a shallower break-over angle and that prohibited me from aiming at those tricky terrains, yet the Gloster brilliantly pulled itself out from what was thrown at it with ease.
You not only get good tech to take you off-road, there’s plenty of driver aids to help you maneuver this mammoth in the cityscape. The jewel of them all has to be the handsfree autonomous level 1 parking, which can, with some assistance from the driver, angle and park the Gloster in those tight sports, both parallelly and vertically. Trust me, yours would be the neatest parking amongst the lot. This new-age technology never fails to amuse me, really! Then there’s the blind spot monitor, adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking which all add up to make the Gloster a very appealing package.
What took me by an absolute surprise is the ride and handling dynamics. Ladder-frame chassis are notorious for their horrible road manners but the Gloster, well it can’t be touted as a sports car but then it’s comparatively dignified. The ‘Brit dynamic’ does make it’s aptness felt here – you would like that hint of firmness of the ride quality and you’d be aimlessly looking for bad sections as the Gloster irons them out with so much delight. The steering feedback felt a bit light for my liking but it does weigh up considerably as you pick up the pace. If only the wheel was a bit chunkier, however that’s just me nitpicking.
And that’s what I ended up doing throughout – trying to avoid falling in love with something that does not fulfill my driving fixes. But the lockdown made me appreciate capable long-distance multi-terrain tourers – I’ve been wanting to head out there in the open and with this ideology lingering around in my head, the Gloster comes in as a perfect fix. Okay, you do miss out on that robust build quality of its competitors but that’s a fair trade-off for all technology that it packs. It’s spacious, relatively efficient, there’s good tech, good infotainment systems hooked on to good speakers, good off-road tech and so many capabilities. To make it even better suited for highway hauls, the additions would be a foam mattress, a minibar with a bartender and a lavatory. With an expected price of Rs 40 lakhs, I’m okay to miss out on those features. Yes, longevity and a relatively new brand’s service network will always be questionable but here’s the thing – SAIC has been manufacturing LCVs globally for some time now and they sure do know a thing or two about making big SUVs. It’s a very compelling SUV and it’s hard not to like it for the features it packs. The Gloster is yet another blockbuster from the house of MG, running at the nearest dealership near you!
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder twin-turbocharged diesel
Transmission: Eight-speed AT
Fuel tank: 75 litres
Boot space: NA
Tyres: 255/55 R19
Prices: Rs 40 lakh onwards (expected, ex-showroom)