Fails to Deliver: MG Hector
Selling a brand new car in 6 weeks at a loss of almost 20% or keeping it and taking a slow loss at an average of less than 4 KMPL! What will be your call? We definitely think selling at a loss right now would be an ideal call instead of taking a lethargic position and killing ourselves bit by bit, for years to come.
One of the unfortunate things about the current state of marketing; is that unlike previous generations who mostly went with the tried and tested formula, this current generation is more than willing to pay for the ‘idea’ of a product, even before they get their hands on it. This need for instant gratification and the euphoria of exclusivity is enough to dampen even the most cautious of buyers, thus luring or even forcing them to give up their apprehensions and take the plunge. While this is not something to be concerned about when talking about small ticket purchases like video games or movies; but when the item in question is an expensive proposition be it a lakh rupee smartphone or a 2 million SUV, it becomes a much bigger deal with far more potential for unexpected loss. The fact that these vehicles don’t even become available to the customers for months at a time also gives the company unnecessary leeway in order to distance themselves from the mess, should there be one; and when we talk about the current focus of our ire, I.e. the MG Hector, this mess just keeps on growing.
By now, even the most unenthusiastic car owners know about the MG Hector. It flew into the country on the back of a whirlwind campaign that touted it as the next evolution of the good ole’ SUV. It awed people with an intimidating presence and a feature list that was longer than most cars’ owner manual. Even though the ridiculously low overhangs and puny tyres gave a lot of seasoned drivers pause, the sheer look and feel of the car won over most of the critics who just crossed their fingers and hoped that it will deliver on the promises. The excitement was so much that they sold out their pre-bookings quota before they even got around to delivering even a single car. It is hard to tell if they just got lucky, or whether it was a calculated move; but the result was that the Hector ‘Unfortunately’ had already become the bestselling car of the year, even as the first customers were discovering how unworthy it was of the title. We talked with the owner of the very first Petrol DCT Hector in Delhi, to see how his experience has been and whether he faced the same issues that we noticed in our initial experience. Unfortunately for us though, he was smart enough to realise the problems and had already gotten rid of the car, suffering a loss of around 20 per cent on a car that was less than two months old. Interestingly, even though it could be a manufacturing defect but to the first customer, though what he told us was a lot similar to what we have also experienced ourselves.
Design & Build
Design is only a solid point for the Hector, something that convinced so many people to take a leap of faith on it. Even though the brand has British origins, while being designed in Asia; the fact remains that the look, especially the front relies heavily on the allure of the full-sized GMC and Escalade SUVs that are ever-present in western media. Unfortunately, the big overhangs and oversized wheel arches only highlight the fact that the vehicle is completely inept in any sort of off-roading applications due to the oddly small tyres and almost non-existent ingress and departure angles. The lack of any all-wheel-drive mode or a tow hook is further indication that the company doesn't care either. Even if it was better equipped to handle such tasks, the sheer size of the vehicle dissuades you from any adventurous activities, even on gently curving highways over 60. Now, generally body roll wouldn't be a point of concern, because this is clearly a city SUV, however, even in that segment, there are far more capable options available at a similar price, that don’t bump and scrap on bumpy roads. Moving past the big features, you get to notice that the body features a lot of gaps between panels, as well as unintentional blind spots. Owners have also shared the fact that the chrome that makes up so much of the vehicle's appeal, is also fixed loosely with cheap adhesives that wear off rather quickly, cause your precious chrome accessories to fall off your car at unfortunate times.
Interiors and Comfort
The interior layout tries to make it feel like a big space with a big steering wheel, which only ends up coming in the way if you're tall since the pedals are relatively small and tucked-in under the low dashboard; that is someone still tall enough to cause visibility issues for shorter drivers. There isn't as much space inside as you would imagine or want it to have, due to the big exterior; and even the rear seats recline very mildly. Definitely a Big No for someone who wants under-thigh support. Other than the big screen, which seems to be stolen straight from Tesla's design book, there is hardly anything else that draws your eyes, as carefully placed soft-touch material fail to hide the lacklustre look and quality of hard plastic regions. The boot space is generous, although it comes at the cost of a third row, which a vehicle of this size should be able to afford. An added insult on a consumer pocket is the fact that a 2 million SUV does not come with a full-size alloy spare wheel.
Features and Software
Selling as an Internet car is bound to guarantee that a lot of scrutinies will be placed on the fabled touchscreen and voice-enabled, connected car experience. Unfortunately, for all the claims they make, the car barely delivers; as the touchscreen is often buggy and not even as smooth as current-gen tablets. The Internet facility in itself is spotty at best, and we say good look to anyone who tries to get usable signal speed while driving. Even when you do get a solid enough connection, the inbuilt apps throw up their own glitches, down to even the Gaana app buffering mp3's, something which even low-end smartphones manage to avoid now a days. All of this needs to be handled manually, as the voice software is predictably retarded when it comes to Indian accents. Although, they do try to distinguish their failures by repeating the word 'pardon' in a classy and eventually annoying manner. If you get the bright idea of bypassing the glitchy software with Android Auto or Apple Carplay, it becomes a game in itself, trying to get connected and broadcasting in the first few attempts. The company has promised that the experience will likely improve with future software updates, however considering the general lack of information about diagnostics and updation, and the poor connectivity of the software itself, it's anyone's guess when that might happen. For now, it's better to stick with simple manual commands that have a less chance of glitching.
Engine and Drive
On paper, a 1.5 litre engine that makes 143 bhp of power and 250nm of torque should be enough to power an SUV of this size. However, considering the overdeveloped body with all that additional weight, it's no surprise that the vehicle struggles to enact the most basic overtaking manoeuvres, irrespective of road conditions. The power delivery is linear, yet fails to impress due to a painfully awkward time gap between the pedal hitting the metal, and the car's response to it. One would assume this has been done to enhance the stellar mileage the company claimed for this segment, yet somehow, this is the worst thing about the car so far, as we have received multiple reports of owners getting barely 3-4 kmpl on an average. The lack of grip from the small tyres, subpar braking, and overall floaty feel of the vehicle is just the cherry on top of this shit sandwich, that is forcing dozens of owners to put their brand new Hector's back on the market, as a NOT OK machine that certainly didn't live up to its name.