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MG Astor First Look


If you want a feature-loaded, comfortable and practical premium SUV, there’s plenty of choice already available. Does the Astor give you enough reasons to choose it over proven alternatives?

To State The Obvious

Entering the same segment as the Hyundai Creta and Kia Seltos is no small feat. Not only are both SUVs well-rounded, but they’re also popular enough to make people put up with borderline-ridiculous waiting periods. Also, discounts do not feature in the vocabulary of a salesperson selling either one.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped Skoda or Volkswagen from launching their contenders into the mix, but that’s just ramped up the challenge for any new entrant. So any car hoping to have a fighting chance can’t settle for just matching up to what’s available -- it has to be different, and the MG Astor seems to have the right ingredients to do exactly that.

Starting Point

It isn’t the looks, neither the technology -- it’s the interior. The Astor’s cabin quality is what impresses first. MG has paid a lot of attention to the touch and feel of the plastics, offering an appreciable mix of soft-touch and smooth-finish trim. Aside from leatherette seats, there’s also generous use of leatherette padding on the dashboard, centre console, and doors, bettering the in-cabin experience significantly. Many bits in here feel like they’ve been used in VWs, like the steering stalks or sunroof control. They also have a similar sense of heft to them.

What helps is how the design is tasteful in a very European sort of way. There’s light use of silver garnishes to offer some contrast, and nothing in the cabin looks overstyled. 

FYI: The cabin will be available in three colour palettes: red and black, ivory and black, and all-black.  

As for space, while the Astor’s wheelbase is slightly shorter than its immediate rivals, it puts it to good use. Four 6ft-tall users can easily fit in with space to spare and sufficient headroom too. The panoramic sunroof that stretches all the way to the rear backrest also helps enhance the sense of space. That said, don’t expect the same lavish cabin room as the bigger Hector.

As for the boot, MG hasn’t given us an exact figure. With the parcel tray in place, it’ll fit a full-size airport suitcase and a small bag or just three medium-size trolley bags. The rear seat is 60:40 split-folding, should you need additional cargo space.

FYI: The Astor gets a full-size steel spare tyre

Usual Suspects

In typical MG style, the Astor’s tech package is extensive. Here are the highlights:

  • Ahead of the driver is the 7-inch digital cluster. The layout isn’t too over the top, nor is it unnecessarily data-heavy.

  • The 10.1-inch touchscreen is smooth to use and easy to navigate. You can set a wallpaper, stream songs/podcasts via Jio Saavn, get some video playback (when the car isn’t in motion), and manage the ADAS settings through this as well. Yes, there’s Android Auto and Apple CarPlay too.

  • The Astor also gets steering modes (normal, urban, dynamic) but no separate dial/button to switch between them. You have to toggle between them through the touchscreen.

  • In case you forget your car’s smart-key, you can even use your phone as a Bluetooth key via the iSmart app. Of course, for security reasons, this process needs separate verifications to unlock the doors and then start the car, but you never know when this will come in handy.

Other Features

6-Way Power Adjustable Driver’s Seat

5 x USB chargers (including a dashcam charger near the IRVM)

Auto Headlights

Rain-Sensing Wipers

PM 2.5 Air Filter

Smart-Key With Push-Button Start

Heated Wing Mirrors

Connected Car Tech (Remote AC control, door lock/unlock, car tracking, geo-fencing etc)

Auto AC With Rear AC Vents

Front and Rear Armrests

  • However, certain features have been given a miss, like the telescopic steering-adjustment, ventilated seats, auto-dimming IRVM, wireless support for Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, and wireless phone charger.

Toy Story

This is probably why the Astor made headlines, to begin with. Atop the dashboard is a little AI assistant, which essentially packages a voice assistant into something more personal. It’s a little robot that swivels either left or right, depending on which passenger gives it the “Hey, Astor” voice command.

It displays a range of emotions, controls and shows certain car functions when used (like opening the sunroof), can tell you jokes, and give you news updates and information from Wikipedia. The text readouts will be displayed on the touchscreen. Hilariously, when we asked it for the prices of the Hyundai Creta, it took a longer than usual time to think before reading out the MG Hector’s prices!

Fair warning, this may be a party trick for grown-ups, but take your children with you to the showroom, and they may beg you to buy the Astor just for this.

Essential Services

Gimmicks aside, the Astor also gets a loaded safety kit.

Key Safety Features

6 Airbags

ABS | EBD | Brake Assist

ESP | Traction Control

Hill-Hold | Hill-Descent Control

ISOFIX

Highline Tyre Pressure Monitoring

360-Degree Camera

All-Wheel Disc Brakes

Front Fog Lamps With Cornering Function

Rear Fog Lamp

Getting it one step closer to being autonomous are the Astor’s Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). The suite includes adaptive cruise control, high beam assist, lane keeping aid, and auto emergency braking (with pedestrian detection). 

The Astor also gets rear cross-traffic alert and speed assist. These not only warn you about local speed limits, but also have an intelligent mode, which you can activate if you want to limit your speed automatically.

Wrap It Up!

In the styling department, the Astor offers a good balance between striking and subtle. Nothing about the design is polarizing, and it looks classy, even in one of the brighter paints.

FYI: Colour options include Spiced Orange, Aurora Silver, Glaze Red, Candy White, and Starry Black

Most alternatives in the segment go for traditional boxy lines. However, the Astor’s more curvaceous, thanks to the swooping bonnet and roof lines. It all comes together well and looks sporty, complemented by the sharp styling of the 17-inch black alloy wheels.

The ‘hawkeye’ LED projector headlights and LED taillights make the Astor look quite expressive but not particularly butch or aggressive. Graceful would be the proper adjective. Whether that’s a good thing or not is for you to decide.

FYI: Turbo-petrol variants get red brake calipers

And that’s the overall image we got from the Astor. It’s not in-your-face or shouty about what it offers. While it is one of the longest, widest, and tallest cars in the segment, it has a similar kind of road presence as a Creta or a Seltos. One factor that will play to its favour is that it won’t be as common a sight as the Koreans for a while.

Unlike the Koreans, though, there is no diesel engine option here.

Key Drivetrain Specifications

Engine

1.5L Petrol

1.3L Turbo-Petrol

Power

110PS @ 6000rpm

140PS @ 5600rpm

Torque

144Nm @ 4400rpm

220Nm @ 3600rpm

Transmission

5-Speed Manual / 8-Step CVT

6-Speed Automatic

Parting Thoughts

The Astor comes across as a likeable, urban, techy SUV that has heaps of the ‘feel good’ factor. The ADAS, panoramic sunroof, and tech package are the differentiators, sure. But with things like the AI assistant, it also feels like a car with a sense of humour. Sure, there are some gimmicks, but they don’t come at the cost of fundamentals -- space, practicality, and quality.

If it can back all this up with a fine ride and drive experience (and, importantly, competitive pricing), the Astor does have what it takes to make you second guess your decision to buy the segment stalwarts.

We expect the MG Astor’s launch in October 2021 at ex-showroom prices ranging between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 17.5 lakh.

MG Astor Video Review

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MG Astor

MG Astor

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