A year after MG Motor India made its debut in the Indian market with the 5-seater Hector SUV, the company has now launched its younger sibling, the Hector Plus, with slightly longer dimension and a few new additional features.
The most important of them all is the addition of a third row of seats for teenagers and young children, and a second row with two captain seats.
MG Motor had entered the Indian market at a rather difficult time. From the robust sales growth in 2018, the market had started to see a fall in sales starting early 2019. Economic uncertainty, preparations for BS-6 compliance by April 1, 2020 and the government’s abstruseness with regards to electric mobility were some of the reasons blamed for the depression in the market.
MG Motor, however, made its mark with the Hector, claimed to be the country’s first internet car. Even before the launch, the company was able to create a strong buzz in the market with its brand campaigns and product promises. Even as consumers accepted the Hector in good numbers, there was always a demand for a version that could seat more people. A seven-seater Hector was thought to be on the works.
However, in an interview with Auto Tech Review during the media drive for the Hector, Rajeev Chaba, President & MD, MG Motor India had confirmed the company would launch a six-seat version of the Hector in the early part of 2020, and the same was showcased at the New Delhi Auto Expo in February this year.
The company has now launched the Hector Plus with the addition of a third row that is designed primarily for teenagers and children, while the second row now gets two captain seats, for owners who would love to be chauffeured around. At Rs 13.49 lakh, going up to Rs 18.54 lakh for the top-variant, the Hector Plus has been aggressively priced by the company, and should excite prospective customers waiting for the additional seating option in the popular SUV.
While the main differentiator of the Hector Plus over its sibling is the seating arrangement, there are other significant changes to the vehicle that justifies the ‘Plus’ moniker. One look at the Hector Plus, and the newly-designed larger front grille does give the vehicle a somewhat bigger sense. Overall, the Hector Plus is 65 mm longer than the Hector, primarily due to the changed bumpers at the front and rear, even as the rest of its dimensions remain the same, including the wheelbase at 2,750 mm.
The subtle use of chrome, for one, is welcome. The grille appears bigger, and the redone bumpers look smarter both at the front and rear. The redesigned tail light elements give the Hector a cleaner, more sophisticated look at the rear. To our dislike, though, MG decided to continue with the 17-inch wheels, which look rather small for the Hector Plus.
The Hector Plus is clearly designed to be chauffeur-driven, where the owners get to enjoy the experience of the second-row captain seats. Like in the Hector, the Plus variant, too, can boast of generous space, even with the captain seats pushed forward to the maximum. Access to the third-row, however, through the narrow passage between the middle row seats isn’t easy. But considering the third row is recommended only for children, that shouldn’t be a trouble. The addition of the third row seat has, nonetheless, significantly eats into the Hector Plus’ luggage space, offering only 155 l of space. With the third row of seats folded, the space increases to 530 l. A new addition to the vehicle is a hands-free tailgate, which can be activated by swiping your foot under the bumper.
Inside, the Hector Plus sports a different colour shade – a tan-on-black theme – as against the all-black cabin of the Hector. As on the Hector, the Hector Plus gets the 10.4-inch touchscreen system, integrated with the over-the-air (OTA) technology with upgraded iSMART, which now supports a new ‘chit-chat’ feature that includes pre-recorded responses to questions. Our experience with the voice commands was sort of a mixed bag.
THE OVERALL PACKAGE
The powertrain portfolio of the Hector Plus is exactly the one available on the five-seater Hector. There is a 1.5 l turbocharged petrol unit that can be had with a 6-speed manual and a 6-speed dual-clutch auto transmission, a 1.5 l petrol with a mild-hybrid system and 6-speed manual and a 2 l diesel engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission.
From a safety perspective, the Hector Plus gets six airbags, ESC, auto headlamps and wipers, a tyre pressure monitoring system, and front and rear parking sensors. Apart from the new features mentioned earlier in this report, the top-spec Sharp variant of the Hector Plus gets a 360-degree parking camera, an Infinity audio system and panoramic sunroof, among others.
Around mid-August, the Hector Plus’ price was revised upwards by ` 50,000, making it pricier than the standard Hector by about ` 100,000 or so. And for the added features, the extra row of seat, and the premium seating experience in the second row, the Hector Plus is very generously priced and comes across as a comfortable, practical SUV for interested buyers.
TEXT: Deepangshu Dev Sarmah
PHOTO: Bharat Bhushan Upadhyay