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Purchase experience and initial impressions: MG Hector petrol CVT

I am in love with the commanding view it provides from the driver seat. In my recent outstation drive, I appreciated the long-range visibility it provided out on the 2-lane divider free highway.

BHPian TheVegabond recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Black is beautiful:

Background:

So, here it goes, I had been driving my Hyundai Grand i10 since 2014. It was my first car . the car served me well without any unpleasant surprises during 8 years of ownership and more than 1 lac Kms on the road (sometimes off the road as well). The car did not give me any reasons to complain and there was certainly no need to look for a new car. Still, the itch to change/upgrade to a new car started almost a year ago.

A job switch late last year and some well-deserved financial stability (touchwood) meant that the itch became irresistible. While I was looking for excuses to change to a new car, I needed someone to tell me that I need a new car. My family and knowledgeable friends wondered what was wrong with the Grand i10 and listening to my vague arguments they concluded i10 was just fine, something was wrong with me instead. Then came the statement (more like a kick in the back) from the better half - " Go get a new car and let us live in peace". There was one condition that the final verdict will be hers.

The hunt and the contenders:

This is the most exciting and at the same time most difficult task. The sole criteria for the new car was that it must feel like an upgrade with the term "upgrade" undefined. Like a true BHPian I compiled following requirements:

Must haves:

  • Only petrol engine because of limited running and stupid 10-year diesel rule in Delhi.
  • Good cabin and boot space.
  • I kept the budget at 15 lakh OTR (certain section of my mind told me that it might not be enough).
  • Easy to drive and long-distance comfort.
  • Sunroof - condition set by my 6 year old.

Good to have:

  • Automatic.
  • High GC.

As evident, the requirements list was short, and my buying decision was solely going to be the feel and connect with the new car. With this, the test drives began:

The sub compact SUVs:

I had already driven Brezza, Nexon, Venue, Sonet, XUV300 and Ecosport in my social circle. XUV300 was the only car that I liked but the small boot was a deal breaker. So, the entire SubCSUV was out of contention.

Hyundai Creta:

Somehow, I thought that this was going to be car that would be the final choice. The SX trim was within the budget and had a feature list that Hyundai is known for. I took a test drive taking along my family. The car drove exactly same as my Grand i10, the interior colour scheme was also same and to top it off, the smart key was also the same as my Grand i10's key. It felt as if I was sitting a little higher in my Grand i10. No complains but there was no feeling of a change, and my wife also felt the same. So, the car that I thought was going to be my next possession, got rejected in a short test drive.

Kia Seltos:

I test drove the iMT petrol and liked it for its convenience. The HTX trim felt better because of the feature list and the cabin aesthetics. Having gone through TBHP reviews about its stiff suspension, I took a long test drive and tried covering variety of road sections. The ride quality was found to be acceptable by my wife and I also did not feel it to be a deal breaker. Both the iMT and HTX trims were shortlisted.

Skoda Kushaq and VW Taigun:

Test drove the 1L MT of both Kushaq and Taigun. While the cars drove just fine, both felt like from the SubCSUV segment with compact cabin and boot space. I could not strike a connect with the Kushaq, but the Taigun felt much better. While the Skoda sales guy was eager and also showed the "reassuring thud" while closing the door, the salesperson at VW was relatively subdued. Both Kushaq and Taigun felt overpriced for what they offered and got rejected.

Honda City 5th Generation:

Like most Indians, this car holds a lot of aspirational value in my heart. I test drove the ZX petrol CVT, no offence to Skoda/VW lovers but this car drove much better than both Kushaq and Taigun 1L. I loved the linear but fast acceleration, while my wife loved the back seat and roomy cabin. I took the car to some bad patches, and it did not complain. As expected, I had to be really careful on sharp speed breakers. Overall, the City impressed me in every aspect apart from the low GC. Shortlisted as top preference.

Tata Harrier:

Though, I was only looking at petrol cars, still went ahead and checked the Harrier. I had admired its exterior looks and road presence ever since it was launched. The interiors were nice except for a very prominent hump in the second row because of the transmission tunnel. The car drove really well and gave a good view of the road ahead from the driver seat. As much as I loved the Harrier, the variant XT plus (which had everything I wanted) was way above the budget. With the 10-year diesel rule coupled with my limited running, the Harrier was never going to be shortlisted.

Nissan Kicks and Renault Duster:

Lack of a sunroof on both of these cars would have certainly attracted a veto from my daughter, still I took a test drive. Though these cars look different, the difference is minimal once you are inside the cabin. These are classic examples of great cars gone flop because of step motherly treatment by their manufacturers. We still don't get the latest generation Duster while the Kicks feels a half-hearted attempt. If you solely focus on how these cars drive, you will love them. The ride is plush, the 1.3 Turbo is fun to drive, and the car is sorted even on worst of the road patches. But the cabin feels outdated and dull to the extent that you would struggle to spend time inside the car. Again, I took the test drives just to make sure that I did not miss out on any of the options in the market, the test drives formally crossed them off the list.

MG Astor:

The new kid on the block, the Astor had a lot going for it. I actually liked it a lot, especially the great interiors. Sit on the driver seat and you will feel great. My daughter loved the sunroof and the fancy robot on the dash. Once you go to the back seat, it starts to feel different - the cabin suddenly feels cramped, and you feel you are sitting low down like in a sedan. From the outside, although it looks good, it feels more like a big hatch and not a crossover/SUV. The test drive had no surprises, everything felt like a hatchback. While there was nothing to complain about, there was nothing to be excited about as well. Rejected.

MG Hector:

While I was not considering the Hector, the launch of the Shine variant last year grabbed my attention. As luck would have it, there was a Shine model on display when I was checking out the Astor. We sat in the Hector and wow, it felt from at least 2 segments above the ones we had seen till then. The seats were super comfy, and the second row felt like a sofa, Moreover, the floor was absolutely flat. I asked for a test drive and the SA arranged for it swiftly. I drove the new petrol CVT. While the car felt a little slow off the mark, it built speed nicely with a light foot. Out on the road it gave a commanding view from the driver seat. Although a big car, it felt very easy to drive. The thing that impressed us the most was the sheer amount of cabin and boot space. It gave us a big sense of upgrade from our Grand i10, we loved the car and shortlisted it even though it was above our budget - 18L on road for CVT.

Final contenders and the decision:

All things aside, we shortlisted MG Hector Shine CVT, Honda City ZX CVT and Kia Seltos HTX IVT in the order of preference. The City was readily available and within the budget after discounts. There was no discount on the Seltos and a waiting period of 4 months. It was 2 lacs over budget. The Hector was well above the budget with 18Lacs OTR and the waiting period was 10 weeks. While I wanted the Hector, spending 18 big ones kept pulling me back. My family was fine with both the City and the Hector, and the final decision was to be mine. To convince myself, I took my existing humble Grand i10 for a review to Cars24. It is where I came to know about the boom in used car market. I was offered a price 50% more than I had expected. I quickly contacted Spiny and OLX Auto, both of them offered similar prices as that of Cars24 and this tilted the decision in favour of the Hector. Another one liner from my wife sealed the deal - "Agar itna hi mann hai to lelo Hector, 1 saal baad 1 lac zyada nahi lagega". So, it was going to be the Hector Shine CVT.

Booking and buying experience - the good and the bad:

Once decided, I started contacting dealers in Delhi NCR for delivery time and any deals they offered. The ongoing chip shortage and healthy demand meant that the delivery time would not be less than 10 weeks and there would be no deals/discounts. Moreover, the dealers also pushed for buying insurance from them and getting the loan processed through their agents. Only one of the dealers agreed for a cash discount of 10k and promised to process the loan from my preferred bank with lowest rates, they also matched the insurance quote that I got from independent agents and online platforms. Although we preferred black, I booked the car in new Havana Gray colour with the possibility of it being delivered earlier than other colours. The SA promised to keep me updated and we happily left the showroom.

Then started the anxious wait. It was over a month and still there was no sign of the car. The dealership had no idea when they would get the car allocated. Even after the stipulated waiting time of 10 weeks, there was no sign of the car and MG conveniently decided to hike the prices at the turn of the year. I protested with the dealership but, they said the prices would be applicable as per the delivery date which they still did not have an idea about. Frustrated with all this, I escalated with MG Pulsehub which is the customer care portal. While they were responsive, I still did not get any delivery timeline and no price protection as well. Even though it appeared all my protests were falling on deaf ears, I kept pushing the dealership and Pulsehup for response and resolution. This resulted in my case being prioritized for delivery. I got calls from MG Pulsehub that I would get a priority delivery. I had been following all forums, online groups and auto news, and it was evident that all manufactures were struggling to deliver new cars which in turn was resulting into long waiting periods for customers like me.

While I did not relent on escalating the matter, the SA called me stating that the dealership was being pushed by MG Pulsehub to delivery my car. He mentioned that they still did not have any timelines for the car in Havana Grey. He said that they had a Black Hector Shine CVT in transit and requested me to compromise on the colour and accept the car in black colour which they could deliver within a week. Remember, we originally wanted the car in black. Hiding my excitement, I okayed to take the car. I already had my loan sanctioned and the SA requested me to get it disbursed and make the final payment so that he can get the car registered. I had already waited for more than 3 months and did not want to rush in excitement. I politely told the SA that I would not make any payment until I see the car, he agreed reluctantly. The car was going to be brought straight to the dealership within 2 days and the SA asked me to be there for the PDI and make payments. Loaded with Team-BHP PDI list, I went to the dealership with my trusted friend and checked the car. Everything seemed to be in place, and I signed the forms and called the bank for disbursal while I made rest of the payment. The SA told me that I could take the delivery as soon as registration is done.

The first shot - car at dealer stockyard for PDI:

The delivery:

The SA called the next afternoon and requested me to take delivery, I did not want to take the delivery in dark as it was already late afternoon, hence informed the SA that I would take the delivery the next day. We reached the dealership next day and the SA had completed all the formalities. I signed the forms after checking the car once again. All things in place I took the delivery of my MG Hector Shine CVT in Black. The guys at the showroom made a nice video and there was a nice little cake cutting ceremony as well.

So, finally here comes the black beast:

Accessories:

  • I got the mud flaps and door protectors from the dealership. Car perfume, idol, leather pouch and keychain were complimentary.
  • Side foot board -aftermarket.
  • 7D floor mats - aftermarket.
  • 3D Boot mat - aftermarket.
  • Wind deflectors- aftermarket.

Initial observations - things I love:

  • It has an envious road presence. Every time I take it out on the road it makes the heads turn, and I have had many curious conversations on traffic signals with fellow drivers asking for my experience with the car.
  • I am in love with the commanding view it provides from the driver seat. In my recent outstation drive, I appreciated the long-range visibility it provided out on the 2-lane divider free highway. It helped immensely.
  • The seats are buckets, and you can go long distances without feeling tired.
  • The boot space is humongous, fold the second-row seats and you have a big flat bed. My kid uses it as a sleeping bed on long journeys.
  • Despite the size, the car is super easy to drive with precise steering and predictable brakes.

Things I don't love much (read dislike):

  • The biggest grouse I have is the lack of auto folding ORVMs - I mean even after spending north of 18L, it sucks to fold the ORVMs manually each time I lock/unlock the car.
  • There are few ergonomic issues like the Engine Start/Stop button is right behind the steering wheel on the left side. And, if that was no big deal then good luck finding the ORVM adjustment buttons which are on the right side - again right behind the steering wheel.
  • The car is super lazy off the mark. When you stop at a traffic signal, try competing with a guy on a bicycle and he will run away to glory while you try picking up the momentum off the traffic signal.
  • While the car gives a great view of the road ahead, the side visibility is severely hampered by thick A and B pillars. One has to be really careful when taking sharp turns.
  • No physical buttons for AC controls, you have to wait for the infotainment system to turn on which takes its own sweet time.

General observations:

  • The car has a serious road presence and I think the black colour adds to it. It makes lots of heads turn on the road and I have been queried by many about the car. Moreover, MG has done a good job by launching the Shine variant -the guys at the dealership and at service station mentioned that it was the top end Sharp variant which accounted for almost 80% of the sales but the Shine variant has helped MG to lure customers who don't want to breach the 20L barrier, I being one of them.
  • The car is nice and easy to drive. The ride is on softer side, still it is very comfortable. The acceleration is linear and the RPMs are kept around 1500 in D mode which gives an effortless driving experience. Add that to well controlled NVH levels and you won't notice that you are doing 100Km/hr unless you check the MID. And, then there is the cruise control which I have used extensively on expressways. All of this makes the car a great highway cruiser.
  • The biggest USP of the car is the amount of real estate inside the cabin. There is more than adequate space for everything and everyone. I think this sole point differentiates it from the Creta and the Seltos both of which are in same price range for the automatic transmission (of course with couple of added features).
  • The central console looks premium with signature MG infotainment system which is complemented by the electric parking brake and autohold button. Apart from being visually pleasant, these are really easy and effective to use. The autohold button is a great feature in city traffic. I had read about the lag on the infotainment system but, MG seems to have rectified it, I have had no issues navigating the infotainment system, just that it takes more time to start than I would have liked.
  • As I mentioned, the car is really slow off the mark. The initial lag from stand still or from a very low speed makes it irritating at traffic signals and speed breakers. This also makes the car suited for relaxed driving. If you have a heavy right foot, this is not the car for you. It builds momentum slowly and things get better once the car crosses 20Km/Hr, there appears to be enough grunt above 1500RPMs with speed in excess of 20Km/Hr as the turbo kicks in. There is a Sports and a Manual mode to help matters but, that makes the car gulp fuel like crazy which I think is an inherent trait of all turbo petrol engines.
  • The size of the car is only felt when parking in a really tight spot or making a sharp U-turn. On both of these instances you would need to make an additional iteration.
  • The overall build quality feels solid and sturdy along with a tidy fit and finish. The doors are heavy and there is also a "reassuring thud" while closing them, exception being the tailgate which is made of fibre and not metal and feels clumsy while closing.
  • I went on an outstation trip to Lansdowne a couple of weeks ago and must say the car performed really well. There were few sections with steep climb which the car took easily in D mode. The hill assist and autohold did their job while waiting at narrow curves for oncoming trucks. I loved the 6 hour long to and fro drive from Delhi to Lansdowne. My daughter with mandatory sunroof click somewhere in Lansdowne hills:

  • At the end of 1st month I took the car for 1st service which was a nice and smooth affair. The SA did make a pitch for a couple of value-added services which I politely declined. Post the service, a creaking sound started to come up each time I turned the steering to the left. I tried to figure out what was going on and it appeared that the newly installed 7D floor mat was rubbing against the steering rod which made the sound. I readjusted the mat and the sound disappeared. I also noticed that just behind the front grille there was a plastic part which appeared dislocated. The MG service centre is right next to my office and I took the car to the service station to consult the SA on both the issues. While waiting for the SA, I noticed all the Hectors in service area had the same dislocated part behind the front grille. The SA arrived and informed me that the creaking sound I noticed was indeed because of the 7D mats and he had received this query from many customers. For the dislocated part, he mentioned that the plastic part was for the protection of engine parts in case of minor accidents. He again showed it on other Hectors including the pre 2021 facelift models. With no reasons to complain, I thanked the SA and came back home.
  • The elephant in the room - "Kitna deti hai!". I have driven the car in D mode except for when checking the Sports and Manual mode. I have used cruise control a few times on expressways and you would have known by now that I drive with a light foot. I have driven the car for more than 2000 KMs in a little less than 2 months and have been getting an average of 10-12 kmpl consistently using the tank full method. This is a little more than what I had expected before making the purchase decision and I am glad that there was no unpleasant surprise of 6 kmpl as mentioned at various forums.

Here are are a couple of more shots:

5 spoke alloy wheels look decent:

The front with lights on right after the welcome puja:

In my view the new rear profile looks better than the old one with red insert between tail-lamps:

Thanks for reading. Cheers!

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