MG Astor vs Skoda Kushaq: Back-to-back test drive comparison

Benchmarking these two new SUVs against my Hyundai Creta SX 1.5-litre petrol

BHPian Turbokick recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

I recently checked the Skoda Kushaq 1.0 AT and MG Astor 1.3 AT and here are my brief observations about the cars!

Skoda Kushaq:

1. Exteriors are really classy. Top-quality paint job. The car doesn’t look big but has got a good personality. This car will age gracefully. Typical of Skoda, Isn’t it!

2. The car looks most solid in its class. The exterior fit and finish are very tight and good.

3. Interiors, well is a mixed bag. The car feels robust. The dashboard layout is pretty good. Materials used on the top of the dash/door panels are of good quality. The plastics below are slightly budget grade (Say Tiago class). Speedo dials are neat, the steering wheel looks classy (the leather stitching isn’t). Seat fabrics are again nothing to write home about.

4. The roofline is dreadfully bad looking. And with that exposed mechanicals, the view from the rather small sunroof can be embarrassing. (Why not give it a miss altogether!)

5. Ergonomics is spot on. I found a good driving position in no time. Controls and access are logically laid out (except the touch-oriented AC controls, which are placed low. Difficult to operate while driving)

6. Skoda has managed generous legroom at the back (better than Creta/Seltos/Astor). 2 at back is a good place to be in. The width isn’t as good. 3 won’t fit well. A kid in the middle will be fine. Seat comfort is good overall.

7. 1.0 TSI AT is impressive. I liked the NVH of the engine. It is very difficult to point if this is a 3 cyl engine. My Creta’s 1.5 NA is dead silent at idle/low/avg speeds but I have nothing to complain about the Skoda here. Only when it is ripped hard it makes its presence felt but the engine note isn’t annoying. Rather likeable. Vibrations at idle are minimal. (This is far better than what I have witnessed in Magnite Turbo/Tata 1.2/Polo 1.2 NA etc)

8. There is some lag initially and the throttle response isn’t lightning quick. This is no DSG. I felt the Torque Converter in Skoda is adequate and not explosive. But once it is in the turbo zone, this car pulls neatly and persistently. Creta’s 1.5 won’t like being revved as the TSI. And of course, the extra torque of TSI will make it faster. Easily. Though only from a refinement point of view Hyundai is still unbeatable.

9. Ride and handling are excellent. Rather best in class (even if by a small margin). The body roll is well controlled. The ride is flat once it gains speed. Sidewise movement over bad roads is minimal. Steering is pretty light but responsive. Even the cabin insulation is excellent.

10. OEM music system has got good bass. Better than my Creta’s setup. Though I believe bose setup of top variants in Hyundai would be as good or better than Skoda’s. I couldn’t explore the infotainment system much but the rear camera resolution felt below par for a 20 lakh rupees car !

MG Astor:

1. Astor honestly looks like a premium hatch (more in the Merc entry-level category) than a crossover. Looks stunning in black. The changes incorporated over the ZS make it look much better than the electric sibling.

2. Exterior fit and finish are impressive. Build quality and solidity is adequate. Skoda still is better with it. Creta being at par with Astor.

3. The car’s cabin is the true selling point. One can see the amount of effort made in making it look premium. Quality and fit/finish are thoroughly consistent throughout. Difficult to find loose bits here. Design elements too are classy. I just felt the steering and materials around the gear lever could have been more special to make it near flawless. Creta has got a similar level of fit and quality finish but Astor trumps it for having generous levels of soft-touch materials used. Kushaq just can’t match the level of consistency right now. Surprisingly MG Hector parked next to it felt at least half a segment lower in terms of materials used (especially the beige coloured ones) or panel gaps visible.

4. Panoramic sunroof here is huge. In fact, it is bigger than that of XUV 700 (much narrower) is what I felt! I felt the sunroof curtain is a bit too thin. It needs to be seen if it in anyways affects the cooling of the car.

5. Ergonomics isn’t as sorted as it is in Kushaq or Creta but decent. It took some time for me to find the right driving position. (I am 5’11”)

6. Rear seat is reasonably spacious. It is wider than Kushaq’s but doesn’t have a similar level of legroom. Thigh support could have been better. I think Creta still has the best rear seat here. Overall.

7. 1.3 Automatic felt adequate. NVH levels are not as good as Kushaq’s. Definitely cannot match Creta’s silence. But still, it is very good for a 3 cyl engine. I felt the TSI be a more matured motor in terms of response, speed buildup and refinement. The gearbox rather felt good. I liked the shifts and gear selection based on throttle inputs. Surprisingly the ‘more premium’ offering from MG matches only the entry-level engine of Skoda! I am sure 1.5 Skoda would be a no-contest here. Even Turbo 1.4 from Creta/Seltos is vastly superior.

8. Mid-range acceleration is good. It does feel punchier than the TSI here. The engine sound is sporty and likeable.

9. Suspension setup is on the softer side. Overall dynamics is decent but not as engaging. You can immediately feel the body roll compared to the Kushaq. I would rather say Creta’s overall ride comfort is better here. Steering feedback is acceptable. Creta’s steering is slightly heavier (not necessarily more responsive).

10. In spite of not having a subwoofer, the music system felt pretty good. Better than Kushaq’s. I didn’t have the patience to explore a plethora of safety and other features on offer but the infotainment system’s response felt adequate. 360 deg camera is okayish. Creta’s display/UI/touch quality is still very impressive.

Ride and handling :

  • Kushaq: 8.5/10
  • Creta: 8/10
  • Astor: 7.5/10

Interiors :

  • Kushaq:7/10
  • Creta: 8/10
  • Astor: 9/10

Engine and gearbox :

  • Kushaq 1.0 TSI AT: 8.5/10
  • Creta 1.5 MT: 7/10
  • Astor 1.3 AT: 7.5/10

Overall build quality :

  • Kushaq: 8/10 (poor interior bits apart it is very good)
  • Creta: 8/10 (consistent throughout)
  • Astor: 8.5/10 (not as solid as Skoda but hard to fault overall)

NVH and smoothness :

  • Kushaq: 8.5/10
  • Creta: 8.5/10
  • Astor: 8/10

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