2020 MG Hector Plus first drive review

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MG Hector Plus first drive review - Car Review
MG Hector Plus (Image: BBC TopGear India)

It’s always nice to have a little extra in life. Especially when you’re used to the same old routine or formula. Take for example the SUV. Usually, five seats are more than enough for small families residing in the city. But, for most, even though they may never use it, it’s reassuring to know I got two extra seats in the back. Thats the market MG’s plans to tap with the Hector Plus.

MG Hector Plus first drive review - Topgear Magazine
MG Hector Plus (Image: BBC TopGear India)

When it came out last year, the Hector was a runaway success for the MG Motor brand in India. Needless to say, the importance of third-row seats is never amiss in our country and MG knows that better than most. That’s why it now gets six seats. Yes, it’s just six seats and there’s no option for getting a seven-seater either. My guess is MG would want to capitalize on the seven-seater Hector Plus at a later point, hopefully when sales pick up. Or, probably when the Tata Gravitas (seven-seater Harrier) arrives? But, that’s a story for a different day. Right now, let’s take a look at what the MG Hector Plus is all about.

MG Hector Plus first drive review - Topgear Magazine India
MG Hector Plus (Image: BBC TopGear India)

At first glance, only an eagle-eyed enthusiast will be able to tell the difference between the Hector and Hector Plus in terms of design. The Plus gets a redesigned front bumper which looks a lot neater than the standard Hector. MG has also changed the front grille and cluster for the turn indicators and LED headlamps. On the whole, it looks a lot classier from the front, thanks to the toned-down usage of chrome. At the back, there are a few changes too. The rear bumper and lamps have also been slightly redesigned. But, I have to say, the rear doesn’t look as impressive as the front does. That also boils down to the faux exhaust tips, which are quite obvious. From the sides, the Hector Plus pretty much remains the same. Even the alloy wheel design is the same as before, which is something MG could have changed. However, the Hector Plus is longer by 65mm, to accommodate the third row of seating, of course.

MG Hector Plus first drive review - Topgear Magazine Online
MG Hector Plus (Image: BBC TopGear India)

Speaking of which, the interior remains almost completely the same as the standard Hector. The only addition here is the tan leather treatment to some of the trim pieces on the inside. Again, a thoughtful and classy touch from MG. The cabin feels a little more airy thanks to this addition. Also, MG has updated the connected tech on the Plus with additional features like the ‘chit chat’ which essentially allows you to have a rudimentary conversation with your car. Who would’ve thought, eh? But, again, I have to report that this seems more like a gimmick and distraction more than anything else. Even the screen itself is slightly clunky to use and is hard to read in sunny conditions. One change MG should look at making is adding physical buttons for the AC controls, which is quite a distraction when you want to change fan speed in a hurry. Apart from that though, the Hector Plus comes with a plethora of connected features which only add to its appeal. Also, MG has added a swipe-to-open-tailgate feature on the Hector Plus – neat! Let’s not forget the massive panoramic sunroof either, which adds a whole new dimension to the Plus.

MG Hector Plus first drive review - Car Update Online
MG Hector Plus (Image: BBC TopGear India)

Then, of course, there are the two captain seats in the second row. The first and second-row seats are well-padded and comfortable. The second row, in particular, is where the owners will be spending most of their time. There’s plenty of space to offer and there’s a rear AC vent, along with a charging port. But things change when you climb into the third row. Before I say anything, I must tell you that folks at MG have mentioned that the third seat is strictly for ‘teenagers’ and they’re right. First thing I noticed was the lack of under-thigh support and the slightly lower seating arrangement, but headroom is decent. It feels a little claustrophobic but the AC vents, charging points and cup holders at the back ease the blow slightly. But once the second-row seats are fixed in, it is a tight squeeze for an average-sized adult. Ingress and egress is also a matter of concern as there is no separate mechanism for the third-row passengers to move the seats front and back or folding it down. One will have to settle with reaching over to the side of the seat to fold it down. However, the space created due to the captain seats does come in handy here. But, we have to mention that with all the seats folded down, the boot space measures in at just 155 litres. If you do wish to get more luggage in the back, you’ll have to fold down the rear seats, which takes the number up to 530 litres, which is more than the standard Hector.

MG Hector Plus first drive review - Car News Online
MG Hector Plus (Image: BBC TopGear India)

Most importantly, for us at least, is how the MG Hector Plus drives. There are no significant changes from standard Hector but the added length does contribute to slightly better stability at higher speeds. We drove the 1.5-litre, turbo-petrol which produces 141bhp and 250Nm of torque. But, if you want a little more torque, there’s also a 2.0-litre diesel on offer. At idle and low speeds, the Hector Plus is refined and feels smooth to pick up the pace. But, revving it hard or trying to get a move is not something it wants to do, quite honestly. Performance levels are average at best from an enthusiast’s standpoint. But, when you dial in the comfort factor, the Hector Plus does quite well there. The steering wheel feels light and easy to use at lower speeds and there’s a bit of heft at higher speeds too. The six-speed DCT automatic does a good job with keeping shifts quiet and seamless but isn’t tuned for an aggressive style of driving.

MG Hector Plus first drive review - Car News Online
MG Hector Plus (Image: BBC TopGear India)

Given its dimensions, cornering or handling isn’t really it’s strong suit. However, if driven sedately, for example, by a chauffeur, the Hector Plus does really grow on you. After driving it around for the short while that we did, it felt like the Hector Plus is more suited to the city. It’s easy to handle in and around town and its dimensions are not too difficult to get used to either. There is one thing I did want to mention here. While we were opening the hood to get a look at the engine bay, we realised that Hector Plus gets extremely hot, like most cars do when they’re out parked in the sun for most of the day. But what really confused me was that there was no rubber insulation under the tip of the bonnet to release the hood latch. In fact, we had to use a cloth to release said latch to get the hood open, which is quite poor, to say the least. But, that was the only quality standard that was compromised. On the whole, the Hector Plus does feel quite premium. On the performance front, we would prefer the diesel motor over this particular turbo-petrol one. It’ll be more practical in terms of fuel economy too.

MG Hector Plus first drive review - Car Review Online
MG Hector Plus (Image: BBC TopGear India)

So, is the Hector Plus worth it? Well, considering the fact that prices are between Rs 15 lakh and 20 lakh (approximately) and there’s roughly a difference of Rs 60,000 to 70,000 between the standard Hector and Hector Plus, it certainly does seem like good value for money. It carries over a lot of strengths from the standard Hector but doesn’t look quite as distinct as some would’ve liked but perhaps that’s reserved for the seven-seater Hector Plus which should arrive sometime soon. Overall, the Hector Plus is a comfortable, good looking and value-for-money proposition which would appeal to those looking for a predominantly chauffeur-driven car which doubles a weekend getaway vehicle for slightly larger families.

MG Hector Plus first drive review - Car Review
MG Hector Plus (Image: BBC TopGear India)

Engine: 1451cc, four-cylinder, turbocharged petrol
Power: 141bhp@5000rpm
Torque: 250Nm@1600–3600rpm
Drive: FWD
Transmission: Dual-clutch automatic
Price: ₹13.49 lakh onwards (ex-showroom)

Photography – Jassi Singh