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Old 19th September 2021, 12:00   #1
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Default MG Astor Review

MG Astor Preview




Introduction



MG has had a good start in India, thanks to well-priced big-sized products like the Hector, a sorted electric car like the ZS EV and a large, blingy, feature-loaded SUV like the Gloster. Now, MG is going to have a second shot at the premium crossover market with the petrol version of the ZS, called the Astor.

The Astor will be launched later this year. It will be available with 2 petrol engine options - a 1.5L naturally aspirated VTi Tech unit with a 5-speed MT & CVT, delivering 109 BHP / 144 Nm and a Brit Dynamic 220 turbocharged motor with a 6-speed torque converter AT delivering 138 BHP / 220 Nm. While these figures make the petrol engines seem potent enough, there will be no diesel or hybrid engine option available, which puts the Astor at a disadvantage compared to the highly successful Korean twins. Reason? The markets that MG is present in (China included) are predominantly petrol only. That's why, even for the Hector, it borrowed the 2.0 diesel from Fiat-Chrysler.

MG Astor Price & Brochure


The MG Astor will be displayed at the brand's showrooms from today, and bookings will begin shortly thereafter.

The Astor's official brochure can be downloaded here - MG Astor Brochure.pdf.

Exterior




Design & Styling



The Astor is based on the ZS EV, hence, it looks a lot like its electric sibling. The car was originally launched 4 years ago and the age definitely shows - the design is not futuristic or cutting-edge. It's longer, wider and taller than its main competitors, but has a shorter wheelbase. The Astor gets LED daytime running lights, LED projector headlamps, LED tail-lamps, plastic SUV-style cladding on the sides, 17-inch alloy wheels and roof rails. The vehicle will be available in 5 single-tone body colours = Spiced Orange, Aurora Silver, Glaze Red, Candy White and Starry Black.

Build Quality, Fit & Finish



The Astor has a monocoque construction and is built on the ZS platform. The car is solidly built. The doors, bonnet & tail-gate have a good deal of weight to them and the doors shut in a satisfying manner. Fit & finish are impressive with tight & even panel gaps.

Wheels & Tyres



The Astor gets funky 17” turbine-inspired two-tone machined alloy wheels with 215/55 Goodyear Triplemax 2 tyres, which look proportionate to the metal on top.

Safety



MG claims that the Astor is India’s first SUV with a personal AI assistant and first-in-segment Autonomous (Level 2) tech. MG has partnered with Bosch for ADAS (advanced driver-assistance systems) in the Astor. The AI technology, 6 radars and 5 cameras can manage 14 Autonomous Level 2 features.

Apart from this, the Astor is loaded with safety features such as 3-point seatbelts for all five occupants, 6 airbags, disc brakes all-round, ABS + EBD + Brake Assist, ESP, traction control, hill-hold, hill descent control, TPMS, ISOFIX child seat mounts, emergency stop signal, 360-degree camera, heated ORVMs, electric parking brake with auto-hold, adaptive auto headlamps, rain-sensing wipers and more.

While the Indian Astor has not got a crash test rating yet, the Thai spec MG ZS Petrol scored 5 stars in crash tests conducted by the ASEAN NCAP, while the ZS EV performed similarly. We expect no less from the Astor. MG knows it will be a solid selling point over the Kia Seltos that suffered a big blow to its reputation after barely managing 3 stars in the GNCAP tests.

Interior




Cabin Design & Quality



The dual-tone grey and sangria red dashboard is stylish & looks sporty! It is a very unique colour combination which we like. Takes guts to do something so different, but we think it's well executed. Silver, black and carbon-fibre finish inserts have been used in places. The dashboard has lots of faux leather and soft plastic. The interiors feel solidly put together without any poorly finished areas visible. Harder plastics have been used lower down on the dash, center console and doorpads.

While the driver’s seat doesn't get lumbar adjustment, it seems supportive enough. It can slide back far enough even for tall drivers to feel comfortable. The leather upholstery is of satisfactory quality. The center console has a comfortable leather-wrapped armrest, which is not adjustable, but is placed at a comfortable height. The doorpads too host leather-wrapped armrests which are useable.

On first impression, the ergonomics appear to be spot on with everything where you would expect it to be, and within easy reach of the driver.

Cabin Storage



The cabin has a small glovebox and storage bin under the driver armrest. Doorpads get accommodating bottle holders, with room for other items. Cupholders and a cubby hole have been provided in the center console. The front seatbacks get deep pockets for rear passengers to use.

Air-Conditioning



The Astor gets a climate control system with a PM 2.5 filter. Air vents have been provided at the rear as well.

Features


Unique & Noteworthy Features



The Astor comes with features such as a panoramic sunroof, touchscreen head-unit with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, 360-degree camera, steering with adjustable driving modes and an electrically adjustable driver's seat. It also gets an AI personal assistant and fully digital instrument cluster. Sadly, useful features such as ventilated seats and (shockingly) an auto-dimming IRVM are missing.

Audio System & Sound Quality



The cabin has a 10.1” touchscreen head-unit. The car has 80+ internet features residing on MG i-Smart technology. On top of it, building on CAAP (car as a platform), the car hosts subscriptions and services, including maps and navigation via MapMyIndia, Jio connectivity, the first-of-its-kind Blockchain-protected vehicle digital passport by Koinearth and more. MG car owners will get access to music on the JioSaavn app, along with an extremely unique feature of reserving a parking slot through the head-unit (powered by Park+ in select cities to begin with) and access to information with Wikipedia.

Sound is delivered through 6 speakers. Another surprising omission is a subwoofer!

Rear Passengers




Rear Seat Comfort & Space



Ingress & egress are easy. The rear bench is placed at a decent height as well. That said, the width is too less for three adults to feel comfortable. It's more suitable for two adults and a child. A center armrest with cupholders has been provided.

The cushioning & padding of the rear seats seems alright with adequate under-thigh support. All 3 occupants get comfy adjustable headrests. The legroom is adequate. We set the front seat for my 5'10" driving position, and another individual (also 5'10") could sit behind without feeling cramped. Rear occupants get a/c vents and charging ports.

Boot Space



While MG hasn't revealed the size of the boot, it is accommodating enough to comfortably carry a family's luggage for a weekend trip. The rear seat splits in a 60:40 ratio. Folding the backrests down is possible for carrying more cargo, although you don't get a flat floor. The boot gets a light and parcel tray.

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MG Astor Exterior Images


The Astor is based on MG’s Emotional Dynamism design philosophy (whatever that means!). The car's front bears resemblance to the ZS. It gets new headlights, a reworked grille and a restyled bumper. We like the neutral face & it'll appeal to most people. That being said, this is a 4-year old design and the age surely shows:


The rear features changes to the tail-lamps and bumper. It also gets large "ASTOR" lettering and ADAS badging. If MG can brag about internet in the Hector, it'll certainly go to town with ADAS! Certainly a selling point as new car buyers are greatly drawn to technology:


Radar effect is smartly illustrated on the floor! Great marketing. The Astor measures 4323 mm, 1809 mm and 1650 mm in L x W x H respectively, with a wheelbase of 2585 mm. While it is longer, wider and taller than its main rivals, it isn't large or imposing like traditional SUVs. Multiple cuts and creases on the sides, including a shoulder line jump towards the rear:


Headlamp clusters feature 9 crystal diamond elements. They consist of LED daytime running lights, LED blinkers & LED projectors for the low beam and main beam. Sharp looking:


With all the lights in action. Headlamps are automatic and feature intelligent headlamp control (auto-dip when the ADAS senses a vehicle approaching from the opposite side):


Bold celestial radiator grille is India-specific & looks like a large ornament! You just know the mass market will love it. Bumper has been redesigned and features an air-dam with a honeycomb mesh grille & piano black lower edge. MG badge is big & prominent:


Front camera is located just below the badge. Sweet integration:


ADAS sensor is placed on the air dam. The Astor has 6 radars & 5 cameras. 14 ADAS features include adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, automatic emergency braking for pedestrians, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, lane departure prevention, speed assist system - warning, speed assist system - intelligent mode, speed assist system - manual mode, rear cross traffic alert, lane change assist, blind spot detection and intelligent headlamp control:


Halogen foglamps with gloss black housings:


Underbody protection has been provided:


Camera for the speed assist system is located on top of the windscreen:


Brit Dynamic badges on both sides indicate this car is powered by the 1.3L turbo-petrol engine. AI Inside badge is on the front right door:


ORVMs get glossy black housings, integrated turn-indicators and cameras. They are also heated:


Body-coloured door handles get chrome inserts on top. Both front units wear request sensors:


Black plastic cladding for that "crossover" stance. Glossy black insert runs just above it:


Smart looking 17” dual-tone rims shod with 215/55 section rubber. Astor gets disc brakes at the front as well as the rear, with red brake calipers:


Full cladding in the front wheel well...


...as well as the rear. This is not a cost-cutting model:


B-Pillars are blacked out. C-pillars are thick and the rear quarter glasses are tiny:


Silver roof rails enhance the Astor's crossover appearance:


Panoramic sunroof, which MG claims, is the biggest in the segment. What the Chinese can't give you in driving pleasure, they will make up in equipment!


Rear spoiler is a two-piece unit. The two portions are separated by a crease. Contrast black sharkfin antenna sits at the end of the roof section:


Glossy black plastic bits stick out at the rear. We like this design touch:


Tail-lamps feature LED pilot and stop lights + halogen blinkers and reversing lamps:


To open the hatch, flip the MG badge - VW style. You could say SAIC is to China what VW is to Germany:


Rear bumper houses the parking sensors, a reflector at the left and a foglamp at the right. Glossy black housing like the ones in front have been provided. Also gets fake exhaust outlets and a skid plate:


Exhaust is actually located on the left. It's nicely concealed behind the bumper:

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MG Astor Interior Images


Sporty dashboard with sangria red leather looks unique & nice! Soft-touch materials have been used on the upper half of the dashboard. The cabin feels well-built and nicely finished:


Flat-bottom steering wheel gets thumb contours, perforated leather and silver + piano black inserts. It is adjustable for height only (not reach). Besides, it gets three driving modes = Urban, Normal and Dynamic. Steering is the lightest in Urban mode and firmest in Dynamic mode:


Engine start button with a chrome border is to the left of the steering wheel:


All-digital instrument cluster with a 7-inch embedded LCD screen. While I'm not a fan of all-digital clusters, I have to admit that the graphics are pretty high quality:


Round a/c vents look stylish. Volume control knob is a rotary unit:


Rotary ORVM adjuster and headlamp leveller are here. 2 card holders, and the bonnet / fuel flap release levers are placed below. The misaligned bonnet release looks very ugly!


Doorpads are mostly black with a sangria red insert, and small silver portion around the brushed aluminium door handle. We like! Armrest is wrapped in leather (astute BHPians will notice the misaligned leather bulge at the edge). Door pockets can hold a 1L bottle and the knick-knacks:


Power window switches are backlit. Only the driver's window gets one-touch up/down functionality:


Door sills aren't too wide, which means lesser effort to move your feet in & out of the car. No scuff plates provided:


Seats are upholstered in perforated faux leather and get soft headrests. They are wide and supportive. Material quality is good:


Driver's seat gets 6-way electric adjustability. No adjustable lumbar support:


Driver armrest gets soft leather cladding. It isn't adjustable, but is placed at a comfortable height that should work for most people:


Seatbelts aren't adjustable for height:


Footwell is spacious with well placed A & B-pedals, along with a useful footrest:


USB port located on the IRVM console is for charging a dashcam. Awesome! IRVM is big enough to cover the rear windscreen. What's shocking is that it doesn't get an auto-dimming function. We end up bewildered by such silly omissions in a tech-laden car!


Paralympic athlete Deepa Malik has lent her voice to the Astor's personal AI assistant:


The Astor’s personal AI assistant depicts human-like voice & emotions. It works on voice commands and can tell you jokes , read out the news, get information through Wikipedia, operate features of the car (e.g. sunroof), put up a gif according to festivals and understand 35 Hinglish commands:


Center fascia hosts a 10.1” floating touchscreen, sweetly tilted toward the driver. We like this implementation better than the floating touchscreens that pop out on top of the dashboard:


HD touchscreen head-unit is fairly easy to use, with good quality graphics. MG has partnered with Jio, MapMyIndia, Park+ and KoinEarth to provide various services:


Music is played through 6 speakers, including one on each door and tweeters on the A-Pillars. Disappointingly, there is no subwoofer:


You can set a wallpaper of your liking:


Various car functions (including ADAS) can be adjusted via the touchscreen:


Toggle switches to operate the HU and climate control are located right below. They have neat silver tips:


12V power outlet and a pair of USB ports sit at the base of the center fascia. There is a rubber-lined area to park your smartphone:


Buttons for the hill descent control, traction control off and 360-degree cam are ahead of the gear shifter. Don't miss the carbon-fibre finish here:


Smart gearshifter comes with an S mode:


Buttons for the electric parking brake and auto-hold function. Notice the coin holder just ahead:


Bird's eye view of the center console. Two cupholders of different sizes sit between the gear console and driver armrest:


Center armrest has a deep storage compartment underneath, with a soft lining on the base:


Basic glovebox is small and doesn't get illumination or a cooling vent:


Both sunvisors get ticket holders and vanity mirrors + covers, but again, no illumination:


Roof bezel holds two individual map lights, sunroof controls and Bluetooth mic. We like the way the sunroof controls are designed - those up & down buttons are for the electric cover, while the rotary knob has to be turned (has different positions) to open the sunroof up:


The Astor gets dual front airbags, front side airbags and curtain airbags, taking the total number to 6:


Large panoramic sunroof lets a lot of light into the cabin. It has an electrically operated cover:


Rear doorpads have an identical theme to the front units. The rear speakers are housed in them:


Rear seat has contours for support, while three 3-point seatbelts and 3 adjustable headrests have been provided. Rear seat is better for 2 adults and a child (rather than 3 healthy adults). Cabin width is limited. Also, the middle area of the backrest protrudes (due to the armrest) and the seatbase is elevated in the center as well:


Legroom is adequate and two 5'10" adults can sit one behind the other:


Rear armrest is positioned at a comfortable height. It is wide & soft, and offers two cupholders with a lid:


Rear a/c vents with two USB charging ports below:


Spring-loaded grab handles have been provided above each door. However, the nifty coat hooks are missing:


Both front seats have deep seatback pockets for storing miscellaneous items:


Floor hump is prominent. This anyway isn't a car in which a 5th occupant is welcome:


Boot space is healthy. Luggage is stored on an MG-branded tray on the boot floor. A parcel tray and boot lamp have been provided:


Storage pockets with nets have been provided on both sides:


Warning triangle is neatly strapped on the left:


Rear seats are split in a 60:40 ratio:


Folding the seat down gives you much more cargo capacity:


Spare is a 16” steel rim with a 215/60 section tyre. Tools are stored in a Styrofoam casing inside the wheel:


The Astor comes with a Digital Key - a smartphone app that lets you lock / unlock the car, find the car in a parking lot by activating the lights / horn, and even drive it away without having the keyfob in your pocket. We love this! Why carry a key around when you have your smartphone?!


The app allows you to find the car using GPS, shows the odometer reading, distance to empty and other data:

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With the MG Astor @ Buddh


MG Astor Review-1.jpg

MG Astor Review-img_20210928_091914.jpg

Stepping inside the MG Astor


The cabin is well-appointed with soft touch materials used in most places and high quality switchgear. The retro switches on the center console (something we saw in the Mercedes A-Class Limousine recently) are a great touch.

The seats are supportive and finding a comfortable driving position is easy. And yes, the "swears-by-all-black-interiors" yours truly loves the Sangria Red bits. It's just the right shade, one spot either side on the shade card and it'd be gaudy one way and boring the other. Of course, it's subjective and a matter of personal preference. I spotted the all-black interiors on another fleet car at the venue, and it looks classy too. Would be stumped if asked to pick one.

Best-in-class cabin ambiance? Let's just say that if the badges were removed (and the signature MG electronic bits weren't a dead giveaway), nobody would doubt it if you told them it's a European / German car. It definitely feels comparable to or a notch above the segment competition.

Well-deserved praise aside, there are a few glaring ergonomic blunders, which we pointed out in our feedback to MG directly. The mirror adjustment knob is placed near the driver's right knee on the lower edge of the dashboard. It's not in the direct line-of-sight from the driving position and needs some fishing about and fiddling.

Worse - because one will use it far too often to ignore the annoyance - is the placement of the engine start/stop button. It's to the left of the steering wheel, out of line-of-sight behind not one but two stalks (lights + cruise control). It needs a reach-around and some more fishing and will annoy those of us with larger hands as you're bound to hit one or both stalks.

Another glaring issue, given in-cabin electronics are a USP of the car, is the lack of a proper 'Back' button on both the ICE interface and the steering mounted controls! Neither we, nor the MG staff we pointed it out to, could locate one. If one exists, it's virtually untraceable and if it doesn't, what was the designer thinking? Given how detailed and deep some of the settings menus are, it's annoying to hit 'Home' and start over every time you want to go just one level back. We hope it's fixed at least in the production car's ICE interface (steering controls may need to wait until a refresh).

The steering could be a size smaller too, and as fellow moderator CrAzY dRiVeR noted, better finished. A rare outlier in a well-appointed cabin.

The AI bot is great & responsive, as long as you speak clearly and simply. It could recognize our commands to open & close the sunroof, as an example, and to start / stop the A/C, but was at sea when asked to ' please turn up the A/C', or if someone said air-conditioner instead. Overall, it's a great gimmick, but not a must-have. Quite a few people are also justifiably concerned with having an additional always-listening, internet connected device around them.



The large sunroof is great, and makes the cabin feel airy and bright. On the downside, it traps a lot of heat, and can make the A/C struggle in hotter weather. Speaking of the A/C, it's an efficient unit that cools the cabin quickly and we were comfortable without being chilly under the NCR sun.

Driving the 1.3L Turbo-Petrol AT


MG Astor Review-front-view_pit-straight.jpg

We drove the MG Astor 1.3L turbo-petrol at the Buddh International Circuit, and here are our brief initial impressions. Please note this is based off just a few laps on the perfect tarmac of the BIC and hence, it is simply a preliminary look. Our real-world test on public roads will show the entire picture.

The Astor is powered by a 1,349cc, 3-cylinder turbo-petrol engine from the GM / SAIC SGE (Small Gasoline Engine) family. It puts out 138 BHP @ 5,600 rpm & 220 Nm @ 3,600 rpm and is mated to an Aisin 6-speed TC automatic transmission. MG has confirmed that it's the same engine that is offered in the ZST in the Australia - New Zealand market. The outputs have been slightly tweaked to meet Indian emission norms and fuel standards. The motor has a single-scroll Mitsubishi turbocharger in its global specification. The ECU unit is from Bosch and the car sports a 75 Ah Exide battery as standard fitment.

Facing the car, the large airbox is located on the left, with the intake routed all the way to the front grille, ahead of the radiator. This should help the motor breathe better with cooler air coming in. The turbo is mounted on the front of the block, fluid reservoirs (brake + coolant) and air-con low & high pressure line nipples are on the firewall, all easily accessible. The ECU is mounted on the side of the 75 Ah Exide battery, flanked by the fuse box.

Fire up the engine, and it settles into a reasonably refined (for a 3-pot motor) idle at ~900 rpm. The engine note is sporty when revved. Slot the gear shifter into D, release the brake pedal and the Astor crawls forward without any throttle input - a handy feature in peak urban traffic. Give it some gas and the car picks up speed smoothly. Upshifts are barely perceptible in D mode, and the Astor quickly moves up the gears with no jerky shifts. Turbo lag is controlled by the TC AT and the engine feels smooth lower down the rev range as the Astor climbs up to city speeds effortlessly.

Engine performance feels brisk. The car is quick in a straight line, and though I didn't do timed runs, 100 km/h comes up quickly, and the motor can cruise at fairly relaxed rpms in its mid-range due to the 6th cog, doing 100 km/h at 2,300 rpm and 120 km/h at 2,600-2,700 rpm. When pushed on the long straight of the BIC, it does 160 km/h and holds it at 4,000 rpm, but gets fairly vocal. Not much available poke beyond this, so was pointless to wring its neck.

Overall, the motor is well-suited to relaxed expressway cruising and sprinting at legal speeds. Not a road burner, but very competent.

Shift into S mode, and the Astor feels eager. Floor the throttle and a throaty growl (rather than a full-blown roar) ensues. We quite like this engine note. In S mode, you'll see 5,700-5,900 rpm, but there's no poke left to extract. Under hard acceleration, the gearbox upshifts automatically at the redline even in sport / manual mode.

The gearbox is slightly hesitant to downshift in D when off-throttle, but not annoyingly so. However, in S mode, the AT downshifts nicely to maintain the revs. The well-tuned gearbox masks turbo lag well and complements the motor. It should be reliable too as it is a conventional torque converter and not an electronics-laden dual-clutch unit that can often be problematic. That said, paddle shifters would've been welcome.

Noise, Vibration & Harshness (NVH)



Cabin insulation is good and NVH is well-controlled. The engine sounds sweet in the mid-range, where it will probably spend a lot of its lifecycle. However, the unit does get boomy beyond 4,000 rpm - a characteristic of most 3-pot motors.

Spacious, well-packaged engine bay with easy to access parts should make for easier maintenance routines. There's plenty of space for a bigger motor or some add-on hybrid tech in a future lifecycle refresh. Maybe a larger 1.5L turbo in the future, MG?
MG Astor Review-engine-bay.jpg

75 Ah Exide battery to power all the gizmos:
MG Astor Review-battery.jpg

Aisin supplied 6-speed AT and TCU:
MG Astor Review-aisin-tcu.jpg

Look what we found! Engine top cover is made out of dense foam, not hard molded plastic as is usually the case. Additional noise damping / insulation?
MG Astor Review-foam-engine-cover.jpg

Suspension


Ride Comfort



We didn't get to test the car on rough / public roads, but taking kerbs at speed (to replicate uneven roads and those increasingly ubiquitous rumble strips) transfers a rumbling resonance into the cabin without it feeling "thuddy" or crashy like a stiffly-sprung Seltos. Appears to be more compliant than the Kia. Urban sub-par roads shouldn't bother this car. Wait for our test on public roads.

Handling & Dynamics



No, the Astor is not a boat like the Hector & that's probably why MG held the preview at BIC. The well-tuned suspension setup hits the sweet spot between firm and soft. While body roll is present, it is controlled in hard cornering and quick lane changes, and the car didn't lose composure even when pushed in sweeping corners. The Astor handled the left-right chicanes in the infield section at BIC confidently at higher double digit speeds. Understeer is predictable and there is no nervousness during quick changes of direction.

Our test car, which was shod with Continental UC6 rubber, fared decently when pushed on the track. The Astor doesn't feel nervous around the sweeping 270-degree turn 10,11,12 sequence or anywhere else, honestly, unless one's trying desperately hard.

Hard cornering induced some tyre squeal, but there was always sufficient grip available:
MG Astor Review-270-turn-infield.jpg

Steering



The Astor is offered with 3 selectable steering modes - Urban, Normal and Dynamic. These can be changed through the "Vehicle Settings" in the infotainment head-unit.

Urban makes for effortless maneuvering in urban traffic, but offers little to no feedback. The steering is light. Think of it as the "Hyundai" mode.

Normal mode is balanced and would probably be the mode of choice for many. Firmer than Urban, but still light enough for city speeds and all-round city usage.

Dynamic mode is the firmest setting, ideally suited for highway driving. That said, it's not as weighty as I'd like at higher speeds. The wheel needs a firm hand grip at higher speeds to feel confident around a sweeping curve.

Selectable EPS modes:
MG Astor Review-epas-options.jpg

Braking



The all-round disc setup brings impressive braking performance (especially important with the Hyundai-Kia braking complaints). The brakes bite in a progressive manner and don't feel grabby at all. In the controlled environment of the BIC, slamming the brakes at 80 km/h brought the car to a stop in a straight line without fuss.

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Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) Features


A big USP for the Astor are the autonomous Level 2 safety features that MG has equipped it with. There are a lot of segment-firsts (some not available even in the next segment!), all intended to make the driver's life easier and safer, both via alerts and autonomous intervention as required. With level 2 ADAS, the car is capable of accelerating, braking and steering in certain circumstances to prevent or reduce the severity of potential accidents. However, it is NOT a substitute for the driver, and the features obviously have limitations (especially in Indian conditions) beyond which, the driver has to take charge. Level 3, in the future, is expected to bring a higher number + degree of autonomous features.

The features provide a variety of alerts; audio (chimes), visual (warning messages / icons in the instrument cluster) and haptic feedback (vibration on the steering wheel). Specific features also have options to turn individual alert types ON/OFF. All feature icons in the cluster are indicated in yellow when on standby and green when active. These icons disappear from the cluster when the features are deactivated / turned off.

Adaptive Cruise Control



Available from as low as 30 km/h, adaptive cruise control (ACC) can be engaged by pulling up the ACC stalk (push down to disengage). ACC can only be engaged with the vehicle rolling (>7 km/h). ACC can be set up for three sensitivity levels - low, medium, high (marked with lane gridlines on the cluster graphics), corresponding to time to collision (~1, 1.4 and 1.8 seconds). Rotate the knob on the ACC stalk clockwise to get closer gridlines and anti-clockwise to space them out.

ACC intelligently recognizes traffic merging into your lane ahead, and adjusts speeds in conjunction with the forward collision warning (FCW) system. It also has a 'follow to stop' mechanism, capable of stop / start in sync with traffic ahead and resuming without ACC needing to be restarted manually, as long as the stop is less than 3 seconds. Beyond 3 seconds, ACC goes into standby mode and needs manual re-engagement (pull ACC stalk up). In moving traffic, ACC also seamlessly picks up speed again when it detects the traffic ahead moving out of your path and FCW stops applying autonomous braking.

ACC goes into standby mode at any point the driver brakes manually (instead of autonomous braking via FCW). The ACC then needs manual re-engagement to resume.

Excuse us calling it 'automatic' cruise control during the conversation (duh!). It should be 'adaptive'.



Lane Assist System (LAS)



Offered in multiple modes (described below); all modes have two pre-requisites:
1. Lanes must be clearly marked (not always the case in India) and visible (system can recognize the most commonly used lane marking colors - white, yellow, orange, blue, etc.)
2. Only works at speeds of 60 km/h and above

Lane Departure Warning (LDW): Will alert the driver (chime + flashing red lane marker in the cluster) if the car is straying from its lane. No autonomous corrective intervention.



Lane Departure Protection (LDP): Will alert the driver if the car is straying from the lane due to sudden steering inputs (say the driver dozes off and accidentally jerks the steering in one direction). Will induce minor steering corrections to offset the inputs.

Lane Keep Assist (LKA): Will alert the driver if the car is straying from the lane. Will induce steering corrections. Will request manual override if a curve is too sharp and the lane cannot be kept with minor autonomous steering corrections. When LKA is engaged at 60 km/h, the lane guidelines in the cluster turn blue to confirm the engagement.

Safety Warning / Disclaimer: LAS is only capable of handling curves beyond a certain radius of curvature (MG says RoC larger than 250 meters), and sharper curves lead to the system alerting the driver to take manual control before disengaging LAS. Additionally, if LKA detects no hands on the wheel for 20 seconds, it disengages with a 'quit' alert and switches the steering back to full manual control.



In addition to the center console menu, LKA can also be engaged / disengaged via a push button on the outer edge of the light control stalk. Audio & visual alerts will confirm the action taken.

The modes are incrementally inclusive, as in LDP includes LDW, and LKA includes LDW + LDP. LAS, as a whole, also recognizes intentional lane changes in all modes (via the driver putting on either side's indicator to switch lanes), and automatically resumes once the maneuver is completed. In theory, it also allows one to drive straddling two lanes, if he so wishes. The system is not designed to intervene in circumstances the driver intentionally created and backs off to let the driver have full control.



Speed Assist System (SAS)



Available in 3 modes; all modes require Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) to be disengaged.

Speed Warning: Can be set up to alert for a specific speed, won't intervene if exceeded.

Manual: Driver-chosen speed limit enforced. System won't allow acceleration beyond it. Speed limit numbers can be chosen & changed in 5 km/h increments using forward / back movement of the adaptive cruise control stalk. Hit 'Set' when done.

Intelligent: Capable of reading roadside speed signage and slowing the car down to match it. Speed reduction is designed to be gradual in the interest of safety; the car will NOT emergency brake to slow down abruptly with this feature.

The SAS can be overridden in an emergency by flooring the accelerator. SAS re-engages as soon as you lift off the accelerator pedal.



Forward Collision Warning (FCW)



Offered in two modes:

Alert: Visual warning on the cluster (yellow collision graphic).

Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB): The car will brake autonomously in an emergency if it detects a vehicle too close in the front. Sensitivity can be set to low, medium or high. AEB also provides an option to brake autonomously if a pedestrian is detected in the way - a feature that could potentially go crazy with jaywalkers around. So caution is advised.

Rear Drive Assist (RDA)



It's a safety feature to help manage rearward visibility during maneuvers. Available in 3 modes:

Lane Change Assist: With the indicators turned ON while changing lanes, the 'vehicle in proximity' warning light on the ORVM's outer edge will blink if the system detects another vehicle close to you in the lane you intend to merge into. The feature works only above 30 km/h.

Blind Spot Detection: 'Vehicle in proximity' indicator will illuminate (solid, not blinking) when the system detects a vehicle in your adjacent lane close to you and in your blind spot.

Rear Cross Traffic Alert: Works in conjunction with the reverse camera / sensor system. While reversing, if the system detects a passing vehicle approaching behind you, it will provide an audio warning and a visual overlay on the camera feed, indicating which side (left or right) the vehicle is approaching from. Rear crossing traffic detection works at less than 10 km/h (your speed, not the passing vehicle's).





Huge Shoutout to Om from MG Motors India for patiently demonstrating all the ADAS features personally, answering my questions and even helping me shoot a couple of do-overs when I didn't get them right at the first go. Top man !

Last edited by Aditya : 30th September 2021 at 12:10.
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Old 19th September 2021, 12:25   #6
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Default re: MG Astor Review

Was at the MG Mahadevpura Showroom for the unveiling at 11.30, a very tepid affair. The car looks great overall and the interiors is ohh so good but is definitely tight on space, more towards the Venue than the Creta. My guess, it should start from 9.95 on the basis of the engine capacity that it has.

Pics below:

MG Astor Review-img_20210919_115012.jpg

MG Astor Review-img_20210919_115002.jpg

MG Astor Review-img_20210919_114952.jpg
Attached Thumbnails
MG Astor Review-img_20210919_115027.jpg  


Last edited by Aditya : 19th September 2021 at 22:04. Reason: As requested
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Old 19th September 2021, 12:25   #7
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Default re: MG Astor Review

If there was ever a car to take the fight to Creta/Seltos, this is it.

The Kushaq/ Taigun are still growing into the MQB A0-IN platform. Volkswagen engineers will learn to "Indianize" products more efficiently as time goes on.

Safari/Hector and even the XUV 700 sit half a segment above.

Cars like the Kicks are more of a niche product now.

The Astor can match the Koreans for features and not fall too far behind in all other areas like driving pleasure/ after sales experience. Pricing will be key and I expect lower variants to under cut the competition, perhaps a starting price of 9.99 to grab eye balls.
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Old 19th September 2021, 12:29   #8
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Default re: MG Astor Review

This will surely pose a hard challenge for Creta / Seltos directly. Astor, just like Hector / Gloster, this is feature rich. MG knows what they’re doing. The age of the car is evidently seen but they’ve worked on giving a fresh look and I’m sure this looks fresh on road amongst Creta, Seltos, Harrier etc. Looks like they do their homework pretty well, where other counterparts like Ford, GM failed. I particularly liked the interiors. Surely feels upmarket and the infotainment screen is really nice - feels like a tablet tilted towards driver a nice little touch!
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Old 19th September 2021, 12:35   #9
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Default re: MG Astor Review

Nice detailed preview sir!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aditya View Post
and a large, blingy, feature-loaded SUV like the Hector.
You mean Gloster?
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Old 19th September 2021, 13:12   #10
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Default re: MG Astor Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aditya View Post

MG Astor Exterior Images


Brit Dynamic badges on both sides indicate this car is powered by the 1.4L turbo-petrol engine.
Wasn't the Astor coming with 1.3L turbo petrol?

The forum discussion at this post (MG considering petrol ZS for India. Edit: MG Astor unveiled) indicates so.
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Old 19th September 2021, 13:19   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aditya View Post

MG Astor Engine Images


1,349cc, 4-cylinder turbo-petrol develops 138 BHP & 220 Nm (hence the name "Brit Dynamic 220"):
I'm confused. Is it a 3 cylinder or a 4 cylinder unit?

Really hope it's a 4 cylinder one!!
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Old 19th September 2021, 13:25   #12
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Default re: MG Astor Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by TwerkyC0ffee View Post
Wasn't the Astor coming with 1.3L turbo petrol?

The forum discussion at this post (MG considering petrol ZS for India. Edit: MG Astor unveiled) indicates so.
Displacement is 1349 cc. I fail to understand why it is called 1.4L v/s 1.3L

Thank you so much Aditya for the first hand preview, had been waiting for this one.
Please don't mind me saying this - but I feel if the Kushaq/Taigun had the same quality/ soft touch material/ leather use, we TeamBHPians would have been singing praises all alike. But just because it's MG, our adjectives just feel like held back a little, rather than flowing superlatives. Just my opinion though

Overall MG looks like a brilliant car, but will await the driving review from TeamBHP.
For now, I'm losing my mind over missing essential Features like ventilated seats and wireless charging, but Happy for 6 airbags & 3 point seatbelts.
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Old 19th September 2021, 13:28   #13
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Default re: MG Astor Review

A great and comprehensive review Aditya, thanks for sharing

Cars from the MG stable in India have the new-age tech pedigree, as their single & biggest USP instead of focusing on any classical engineering credentials. So far, they have tasted reasonable success with that approach.

With the Astor, they seem to have really upped this game to the next level! And itís a brave attempt at that, specially with the ADAS feature list, if they are trying to position this as the trump card.
The reason I call it brave is because - for example, forward collision warning / lane change warning/ pedestrian collision warning etc can be a hit or miss technology in Indian conditions.
Could be a headache for the Indian diaspora to get accustomed to such features on a mass market car - given that there is lack of inherent driving discipline while changing lanes, stopping properly at road crossings and what not.
The way I see this feature set turning out, unfortunately, like the 80/120kmph speed gongs, is people will try and switch it OFF at the first opportunity.

But hats off to MG for attempting to put this out on a car well below the luxury segment.
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Old 19th September 2021, 13:46   #14
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Thanks for sharing this lovely in-depth preview! I think MG will hit a home run with this car in India and this comes from someone who has not been impressed with the vehicles on offer (except the EV) by MG so far.

They really have understood the Indian market well in terms of which features become important selling points, although some features seem to be a bit gimmicky like the personal AI assistant. The interior definitely looks to be one of the most plush and beautiful ones that I have seen on a mainstream car in recent times. I guess it is time to wait and see if MG strikes an appeal with the masses for the Sangria Red interiors.

I am currently in the market for a compact SUV and was left unimpressed by the Taigun its current competitors. Will try and see this car in person ASAP!
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Old 19th September 2021, 13:57   #15
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Default re: MG Astor Review

This is an absolutely perfect car. Hopefully, it's a 5 star NCAP car like the ZS.

This is how Skoda should've built the Kushaq.

Let's hope the pricing is good!
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