2022 MG Astor road test review
Buyers in the midsized SUV segment should be a happy bunch. With so many options to choose from, carmakers have been falling over themselves to stand out. For MG Motor, which has always positioned itself as a tech leader, this means cramming the MG Astor full of features that would have had you stretching deep into premium car territory to experience even a couple of years ago. But how is the Astor to drive? And do these features make life behind the wheel easier?
2022 MG Astor engine and gearbox, fuel efficiency
The MG Astor is essentially the petrol-powered version of the MG ZS EV in its facelifted form. A 1.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol is the base engine option while the range-topper is this 1.3-litre turbo-petrol, paired with a six-speed torque converter. This motor with its 140PS is at par with the 1.5-litre turbo in the Hector and its immediate rivals. But with 220 Nm, is at a slight torque disadvantage to the current segment norm. That said, the motor is a significant improvement from the Hector's turbo-DCT powertrain, making for a much more coherent driving experience.
So the Astor feels quiet and refined around town, where you will spend the most time with such an SUV. However, when seen against its Korean and European rivals, there is a touch more lag in this drivetrain which can make the Astor feel hesitant through traffic at times. The gearbox does its best to cover up for this with its fairly intuitive timing but while the shifts themselves are smooth, they could have been quicker to make for a more seamless driving experience.
The experience improves out on the open road where the engine fully hits its stride. You don't really miss the absent drive modes because MG Motor India has found a drivetrain tune that works well in most situations. In any case, the S gearbox mode sharpens up shifts a touch more and holds gears longer which makes covering ground easy if not brisk, as depicted by our in-gear acceleration figures. Merging into highways or pulling off a faster than average overtake isn't difficult in most situations. Speed builds progressively here but in a more subdued manner than rivals, although there is a noticeable step up past 3,000 rpm. Noise levels also remain well contained with only a distant thrum from the engine and little wind and tyre noise.
2022 MG Astor ride and handling
Instead of drive modes, there are three steering modes on the MG Astor. These are well-calibrated, with a light and twirly feel from the Urban setting ramping up to quite a meaty heft in the Dynamic mode. But we think most owners will prefer the Normal setting which finds a good middle ground.
The Astor covers ground fairly competently, given the largely urban audience it is aimed at. The SUV tackles smooth roads quite flat, and shallow cracks or rough patches don't really pass into the cabin. But like the Hector, the Astor also seems to have been damped a touch too firmly for our roads. This trait is most apparent over patchy surfaces, undulations and sharp speed bumps where the SUV's vertical movements are passed into the cabin. This sensation isn't too uncomfortable by itself but can become tiring on a long road trip.
The MG will handle a winding section of road without surprises even though there is a touch more body roll here than some other similarly sized rivals. The chassis has been tuned for the steady driving approach that most owners of the Astor will take. so even though the SUV doesn't like to be pushed too hard, a measured driving style makes the Astor change direction well with body movements staying in check. The disc brakes all around are also competent enough to slow the Astor down without any drama.
2022 MG Astor ADAS and safety features
The big talking point with the Astor is that it is the most affordable car in India to offer Level 2 autonomous driving. This is great news from a safety standpoint, and MG Motor India seems to have set up this system in a way that will benefit Astor owners the most. So the lane departure function works as intended but is never heavy-handed in its interventions. Aside from some warnings and a slight resistance from wandering out of the lane, the system cuts off and asks for significant driver input to bring the SUV back in line. A good tactic considering most Astor users will have not experienced this tech before and may not be ready for the more aggressive corrections that some of these systems make. However, we did notice that the system can sometimes not detect clearly marked lanes and on a sweeping curve may on occasion put in more steering input than necessary with the lane-keeping function. Having said that, this function does very well to centre the Astor in its lane accurately, making constant small adjustments.
The adaptive cruise control is also well-judged, it picks up cars in front easily enough and will even read road signs to slow or speed up the Astor as needed. So if you happen to live in an area with well-marked roads or use major highways often, there is a genuine case to be made for choosing the Astor given the amount of stress it dials out from the act of driving. To this end, the automatic emergency braking system picks up stray pedestrians or bikers cutting in your way consistently but again leaves most of the actual braking to the driver.
The Astor hasn't been NCAP tested but the near-identical MG ZS has received a five-star ASEAN NCAP score. Top-spec variants get six airbags while stability and traction control, hill-hold and hill descent control is standard across the range. The 360-degree camera could have been done with a clearer feed which limits its usability.
2022 MG Astor interiors, features
Aside from the tech, another big draw with the MG Astor is the initial sense of quality that MG has been able to achieve inside it. The layered dash layout looks contemporary but the red and grey colour scheme(optional on the top trim) significantly enhances the feel of this space with the soft dash-top materials. The smaller details like the asymmetrical brushed silver highlighting, the discreet imitation carbon fibre, the dash motif as well as the rotary side vents further bring the Astor right at the top of its class in terms of interior ambience. MG Motor India has even found a good balance between the 10.1-inch interface and the physical toggle switches. Although, we think the plastics for these switches and around the lower half of the cabin could have felt a touch more substantial.
There's a good view out from the front with the edges of the bonnet clearly marked but the lack of reach adjustment for the steering is a big miss that makes finding the perfect driving position more difficult than it needs to be, even with the powered driver's seat. Most of the touchpoints for the driver are soft-touch as well and the leather upholstery looks as plush as the rest of the cabin. But the seats themselves could have been better contoured. The flat cushioning and limited under-thigh support can tire you out after long stints behind the wheel. There are no ventilated seats but the large windows and full-size panoramic sunroof means that the Astor's cabin feels pleasant from the second row as well. But here too we would have liked a bit more contouring on the seats and better under-thigh support. Having said that, there is great legroom and the backrest angle is just right.
MG Motor India has done well to integrate the significant technological capabilities of the Astor into its cabin in a way that makes using these as seamless as possible. The central touchscreen is easy to reach with its angled placement and the menus are logical and thoughtfully laid out. If anything we would have liked the unit to have been a bit more responsive to inputs. But with most functions also controlled from the 7-inch part-digital instrumentation, making adjustments on the move is easy. As for the dash-mounted voice assistant, the piece brings an anthropomorphic touch to the voice control features available on the Hector and Gloster, again adding to the generally positive feeling you get from the Astor's cabin.
2022 MG Astor exteriors, dimensions
Despite the Astor sharing most of its body panels with the ZS EV, MG Motor India has done well to not just achieve a clear distinction between the two SUVs but also to give the Astor the striking looks that will help set it apart from a crowded playing field. The Astor is marginally larger than the Creta in all aspects but follows a more sober design direction, given its European origins. So while the large grille with its concentric flares and big MG logo grab attention quickly, the bodywork itself is subtle with smooth angles and light creases. The deep detailing to the headlamps and segmented tail lamps are other attention grabbers while the gloss black bumper inserts are well placed to add a touch of aggression. Rounding this off are the sharp alloy wheels with their red brake callipers and a boot-load of badges which do well to not look overdrawn.
2022 MG Astor verdict, prices
The MG Astor has become the brand's most successful offering with waiting periods stretching into months, the chip shortage aside. And this comes as no surprise. While we would have liked to have seen a more resolved drivetrain and ride with more of the small but useful equipment intact, the Astor scores on fronts that probably appeal to buyers in this segment more directly. The ADAS is an impactful addition and the cabin ambience makes the Astor feel more expensive than it is. Pair that with the good looks and keen pricing(Savvy AT: Rs 21.01 lakh OTR Mumbai), the Astor is another strong contender in the mid-size SUV segment.
2022 MG Astor 1.3 turbo AT real-world mileage, performance
City - 9.83 kmpl
Highway - 15.49 kmpl
Overall - kmpl
0 to 100 kmph - 10.2s
30 to 50 kmph - 2.0s
50 to 70 kmph - 2.2s
60 to 80 kmph - 2.3s
100 to 0 kmph - 40.9m, 2.9s
Images by Anis Shaikh
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