2021 MG Astor First Look Review - Yogesta

MG Motors has completed more than two years of its journey in India. They’ve brought in new cars exciting innovations and now we are here for yet another unveiling of the Astor. Before we get into the details of this one, let us give you a little background. As you would know MG has coined different terms with its product portfolio. Here is the 2021 MG Astor First Look Review.

2021 MG Astor First Look Review - most tech-laden car

For example, the MG Hector was called the first internet car followed by the MG ZS as the first pure electric, internet SUV. And then came in the Gloster as the first Autonomous Level One SUV. Now we have the aster as its first AI car with Level 2 autonomous technology. The Astor is essentially a ZS EV with the electric drivetrain taken out of it and replaced with an internal combustion engine. So, it’s a step backwards, it isn’t because the Astor actually takes everything forwards in terms of the design, equipment, interiors.

After establishing itself in the full-size SUV space, MG is now eyeing the immensely lucrative mid-size SUV segment with the Astor – Click here

Exterior

The Astor is based on MG’s emotional dynamism philosophy. It brings in a contemporary style with what they say is an elegant and ready for action stance. This is thanks to its classic leopard jump shoulder line. Yes, it does have the styling cues from the fully electric ZS EV SUV still the new diamond-cut 17-inch alloy wheels help make it stand apart from its sibling. In the 2021 MG Astor First Look Review, we loved the exteriors.

2021 MG Astor First Look Review - most tech-laden car

Design & Styling

The family resemblance to the ZS is very obvious but there are some key differences. That’s because the Astor is actually based on the facelifted version of the ZS which has not made it to the ZS EV in India yet. So, you’ve got these sharp-looking led headlamps, LED DRLs and you’ve also got these nine crystalline elements in them. It all looks very sophisticated.

2021 MG Astor First Look Review - most tech-laden car

The bumpers are fresh and what’s exclusive to India is the grill, MG is calling this the celestial grill. We are guessing that’s because the chrome elements in the grille are radiating out of the central MG logo. It’s a little bit shoutier than what mg makes on the Astor or the ZS in international markets but it looks pretty good. People like shouty, they like loud in this segment and it should work well for the MG Astor.

Whats new?

You come over to the side and this is where things get familiar because in profile this looks very similar to the ZS EV. But again there are changes like the wheels these are very cool looking 17-inch alloys. Also, you’ve got red brake callipers behind them hawking back to MG’s sporting heritage. You’ve got heated ORVMs, this is not something you’d notice when you look at the car from the outside. But it’s a useful feature to have in the monsoons. As with everything in this segment, you’ve got black cladding running along the sides of the car. That gives it that butch SUV like stance.

2021 MG Astor First Look Review - most tech-laden car

MG still hasn’t fixed the obsession with badges, you’ve got two badges on the flanks on this variant of the Astor. You’ve got the Brit Dynamic badge which signifies that this has the turbocharged petrol engine. Also, you’ve got the AI inside badge because this car does pack some AI technology which we’ll come to in a bit. You’ve got even more badges at the back the big one is the Astor badge which sits in the centre. On this side you’ve got the ZS badge because this is part of the ZS family internationally and MG has chosen not to remove it for India.

Over there you’ve got the ADAS badge that signifies that this car comes packing the advanced driver assistance systems. The radar safety systems which is actually a segment first. That said the rear is also a very good looking angle. The tail lamps they’ve got this nice detailing in them and it looks very good. The Astor doesn’t look like an SUV in the traditional sense. It’s not upright and macho and butch, it’s got softer lines, it’s got a softer design language. But actually, it really looks good in the flesh.

You need to remember that, unlike the Hector, the ZS was designed in the UK for a global market which explains why its styling isn’t as in your face. In terms of dimensions, it is marginally longer and wider than the Hyundai Creta but it has a slightly shorter wheelbase.

Interior

The interiors of the MG Astor are also very interesting and what stands out at you first is red interior upholstery. This is very bold from MG not too many people in this segment do stuff like this. Everybody plays it safe with beiges and blacks but MG is doing something really really bold. You can also get it with a dual-tone white and black or an all-black interior but if we are honest this is the spec that you want in your car. But let’s talk about the important bits, the driving position. In the 2021 MG Astor First Look Review, we loved the exteriors.

Design & Layout

It’s easy to get into a good driving position because you do have six-way electrically adjustable seats. But the steering is only adjustable for rake, it’s not adjustable for reach. So, that’s a compromise in this car. Apart from that, you’ve got the seven-inch instrument cluster right in front of you. It’s a digital cluster it’s got good graphics, good colours and it helps because you’ve got the ADAS systems in the car. Also, it gives you a lot of information about the systems over here.

Cabin Functionality

You’ve also got a digital speedometer on the left and a digital tachometer on the right-hand side. Coming to the centre console, you’ve got this 10.1-inch touchscreen. This is again the heart of your MG car. You’ve got built-in navigation, a lot of apps like the Jio Savan app If you want to stream music. There’s so much functionality built-in here and this is also where you control the ADAS features from.

Feature Highlights

Coming down you’ve got a few hard buttons for your HVAC. You’ve got two types of USB slots over here. There’s a tray here for your phone but there is no wireless charger and that we think is a miss. Because a lot of cars in this segment and even cars and segments below this get a wireless charger. Over here you’ve got a button for the 360-degree camera which is nice. It’s not the first in the segment, the Seltos also does get the 360-degree camera but it is nice to have. In the 2021 MG Astor First Look Review, we loved the tech gadgets in car.

2021 MG Astor First Look Review - most tech-laden car

You’ve got an electronic parking brake and overall the cabin feels very good, It feels very well put together. Even if you look at the quality of the materials used, all of this leather on the dash even up here is all soft touch. So every part of the car that you touch even the door pads they’re all soft-touch materials and they feel and look very good.

Cabin Practicality

Coming to the back seat, you’ve actually got a reasonable amount of knee room. You’ve also got a lot of room for my feet. So, you can actually stretch your feet out a fair bit in the front. This in terms of his wheelbase is slightly shorter than the Creta but the room inside is not too bad. We do wish the backrest was a little more reclined though otherwise like the front you’ve got a great interior, you’ve got a lot of soft-touch materials even on the back seat. Also, you’ve got this armrest in the centre with two cup holders over here. It’s a very comfortable place to be.

You’ve got your AC vents, there’s no way to control the speed or the intensity of the aircon at the back. But you also have two USB slots for charging your phone. In the 2021 MG Astor First Look Review, we loved the overall practicality of the car.

AI Digital Assistant

One of the big features of the Astor is essentially the AI digital assistant. This little bot you have on the dash is just a physical manifestation of it. It’s not the actual AI. This little thing here has two eyes and it actually reacts to you when you talk to it in the car. For example, it turns towards you when you say something. AI as an Artificial Intelligence is being used for this small interesting device on the dashboard. It gets different emoticons and will listen and follow the voice commands as it’s connected to the internet via Jio’s eSIM. More on this when we actually get to drive the car.

This AI-enabled bot allows for a little more functionality. You can ask the AI to search the internet and feed you information. It can tell you the news updates in the morning, it can have a simple conversation asking how you are doing and so much more. It can even tell you jokes. This little thing does come in the way of your visibility just a little bit. It’s a little bit of a hump on the windscreen, it’s not too bad. What we are interested in seeing is how distracting it is when you actually get down to driving. That is going to be key and that we can only tell you once we hit the road.

When you talk about segment-first there’s also this digital Bluetooth key. So, if you forget your key you can still use your phone to unlock and even drive the car without a physical key. In addition, the steering comes with adjustable modes that can be adjusted through the central screen. The MG Astor may also become the first car in India to allow users to make payments right from the vehicle’s dashboard in the future. So, there are many more of these in the pipeline including a digital passport which is a blockchain-based feature.

Digital key

As for tech that’s not all on the MG Astor. Because it has one more trick up its sleeve and that is the digital key. Suppose you forget your key at home or in your office and you have no way of getting into your car. You can actually pay your phone via Bluetooth to the car and it’ll unlock the car. In the 2021 MG Astor First Look Review, we loved the unique features that the car brings.

That’s not all, it’ll actually start the car. So, you can actually start the car and drive it around using just your phone. MG doesn’t recommend this for everyday use but for a once in a while thing as a convenience feature, it’s really really useful.

Engine and Transmission

As expected the Astor will be available in two petrol engine options. What we have here is called the Brit Dynamic 220 TURBO petrol engine. This is a 1.3-litre turbo petrol unit producing 138 bhp of power and 220 nm of torque. The other option offered is a 1.5L VTI-Tech naturally aspirated motor which puts out 108 bhp and 144 nm of torque. The turbo version will be offered only with a 6-speed automatic transmission while the latter will come with the option of a 6-speed manual and CVT.

2021 MG Astor First Look Review - most tech-laden car

As for diesels there are nodiesels on the MG Astor. If that’s what you’re looking for in this segment you might as well look elsewhere.

Level 2 ADAS (Introduction)

Most interestingly the MG Astor will be the brand’s first model to feature Level 2 Autonomous technology. This will be paired along with a bunch of functions under the advanced driver assistance systems or ADAS. In the 2021 MG Astor First Look Review, the Level 2 ADAS is first in segement.

So, can it drive it by itself, Yes and No! Yes because it can accelerate steer and even break by itself. No, because all these systems have to be activated by the driver. Basically, the Level 2 autonomous driving features include adaptive cruise control, headlamp auto adjust, rear cross-traffic alert, rear-drive assist, blind-spot detection and even lane keep assist.

So, on roads with properly marked lanes, the Astor will keep the driver from changing lanes without the indicator. Then there’s emergency braking meaning the car will automatically stop if there’s a car or bike in front of you. This will also depend on the traffic and road conditions while users will be able to disable functions they don’t need.

Safety systems

The MG Astor gets a number of safety systems. You’ve got the usual traction control, ESP, you’ve got six airbags but what sets this apart from other cars in this segment is the fact that it’s got Level 2 ADAS. That even one-ups the XUV 7OO’s Level 1 ADAS. In the 2021 MG Astor First Look Review, we loved the safety systems.

Level 2 ADAS – How it works?

It’s got radars in the front of the car, it’s got radars in the back in the two corners of the bumpers. All of that is constantly scanning the road and there’s a camera up here as well. So to allow the car to understand what’s happening in front of it and behave accordingly.

Adaptive cruise control

One of the cool features that you have is adaptive cruise control. It can drive along at a certain speed and it’ll speed up if the car ahead of you speeds up and it’ll slow down on its own if the car ahead of you slows down. Without applying the accelerator or the brake.

Lane keep assist

There’s also lane keep assist where it stays in your lane. There’s a lane departure warning so, if you stray away from your lane it’ll start beeping. It can also correct itself if you start going out of your lane. So, it’ll keep you in the lane. In addition to all of this, you’ve got a rear-drive assist. So, the radars at the back have their own set of functionality. The first is lane changes.

So, if you’re changing lanes and there’s a fast car approaching it will actually sense cars up to 70 meters behind and beep if there is such danger. There’s blind spot detection. So, if there’s a car much closer to you in your blind spot and you swerve over into its direction, it will alert you.

Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning

There’s also a rear cross-traffic alert. So say you’re backing out into traffic and there’s a car where you can’t see it, you are blind spot over there. The camera can’t see it and you can’t see it, rear cross-traffic alert will assist you.

Speed assist system

There’s also a speed assist system that basically picks up on speed signs and lets you know what the speed limit on that road is. It can even act as a speed governor and use the speed signs to limit its speeds. There are also active headlamps. So, it can detect oncoming traffic and it’ll actually dip the headlamps if it feels like it’s dazzling a car in front.

So, there’s a huge amount of features packed into the MG Astor and all of it is pretty cool. How it works on the road again that’s something we’re going to have to see once we drive the cars whether it works in India. Because all of this is subject to a lot of things like good lane markings, good road signs all of that matters when you’re using ADAS. How useful it is in India, we’re going to have to reserve our review for later.

Conclusion

We are actually very impressed and we think it looks really good. The interiors are very high quality and feature stuff like the ADAS level 2 that is the cherry on the cake. But there are two pieces of the puzzle that we don’t have yet. Firstly how does it drive? We’re going to only be able to tell you that once we drive it on Indian roads. If it drives anything like ZS EV, we wouldn’t be too worried. Because that was a very nice car to drive and this is essentially based on the same platform. But we’re gonna have to wait and see.

The second piece of the puzzle is the prices. We don’t know how much the MG Astor is going to be priced at. Pricing is going to be key. It is key in this segment. We’re going by MG’s previous launches, we suspect it’s going to be aggressive and it’s going to shake things up in the mid-size SUV segment.

It is important to bring in innovation especially the way cars are built and what they offer. MG has done exactly that with the Astor. The carmaker hasn’t revealed the SUV’s price yet but it is expected to compete with the likes of the Hyundai Creta, Mahindra XUV 7OO and other such SUVs slotted in the 10 to 16 lakh rupee price bracket. This new Astor will be on display at MG showrooms from 19 September. Bookings will also start soon thereafter.

By Yashwanth

Hi, I'm Yashwanth Mallepudi working as an Automobile Journalist also an aspiring blogger.This blog is dedicated to help people learn about Automobiles.

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