NEW DELHI: Will MG Astor create an impact or will it be just another drop in the sea of SUVs? The reveal is done, and as we speak the company is gearing up for the launch.
The 4.3-meter-long Astor is essentially the petrol-avatar of the ZS EV, which was introduced a year-and-a-half ago. Astor, in fact, is the rebadged ZS that the British brand sells in several global markets. The ZS emblem finds its prominent place on the tailgate.
As size suggests, Astor’s prime rival would be Creta-Seltos and Taigun-Kushaq siblings. Surprisingly as it may sound, Astor’s powertrain is gasoline-based. The 1.3-litre turbo-charged is paired with a 6-AT and the 1.5-litre naturally-aspirated petrol gets the option of MT or CVT.
No diesel! How will Astor compete with the popular diesel versions of Creta and Seltos? MG’s product line-up seems to have a Midas touch and the SAIC-backed company is shaping up the Astor with features and functionalities unheard of in C-SUVs.
Astor is transcending segments as MG is bringing in level-2 A-DAS (advanced driving assistance system). This will unlock a host of features like adaptive cruise control, lane assists, speed warnings and more. A-DAS along with artificial intelligence is expected to pamper the top trims.
‘Hello Astor!’ … And the AI bot is unique to react, and dish out news, jokes, and several other key areas of interest. On the dashboard, Astor will offer 10-inch infotainment and a 7-inch fully digital driver’s display. While Android Auto, Apple Carplay, 80+ connected features are part of the deal, here’s the fun part. Unlike other SUVs of the segment, Astor allows video playback on the screen when the (automatic) parking brake is engaged. Also, the infotainment tile is customizable.
The steering wheel feels much like the ZS EV to hold. Compact and burly, MG offers three steering modes. The column is limited to rake movement. The driver’s seat is electrically adjustable and I found no reason to not call it generously supportive.
Any misses? No wireless charging but 5 USB ports should compensate. Also, no auto-dimming inside mirror or seat ventilation. The central console appears appropriately decked up otherwise. Unlike Hector, the Astor features physical buttons under the infotainment panel to toggle between AC, fan speed and stereo controls.
Not once or twice but umpteen times your friends would prefer to sit at the back seat. I’m already imagining the media drive of Astor scheduled later this week. Comfily tucked in the rear seat, I would enjoy the view through the sky roof (claimed largest in the segment) which has a glass area running beyond my head.
Although for long distances in Astor, I would prefer the front seats. Abreast second row, I found the seat a little wanting for thigh support (height: 5’ 7”). Again things would be clearer post-drive, especially the comfort of the seats and space on offer.
Proving safety point, ZS claimed 5-star in the ASEAN crash test. Astor comes with 6 airbags in top trim, and ESC is standard across. After Seltos, Astor becomes the C-SUV with a 360-degree camera.
Astor’s styling will divide opinions. Boomerang LEDs are sharp. The celestial treatment to the grille differentiates Astor from ZS EV. The SUV rides of 17-inch alloys and the Brit Dynamic logo is meted out to the sides much like the Gloster. The biggest downside has to be visual drama or the lack of it. Does it command a bold stance? Well, I failed to find a good view.