MG's answer to the likes of the Hyundai Creta, Kia Seltos, and Skoda Kushaq is all set to arrive soon. So, we take a look at what makes it a formidable rival in the mid-size SUV space.
Continuing with its SUV product offensive, MG is now gearing up to bite off a sizeable chunk of the immensely competitive mid-size SUV segment with the new Astor. For those not aware, Astor is the petrol-powered version of the MG ZS, which is sold overseas. Of course, we've had the ZS in India for some time now but only as an EV, which is based on the pre-facelift version. The Astor, however, brings along refreshed styling of the facelift model.
The new and rather bold-looking Celestial front grille is what immediately catches your attention. Couple this with the new Hawkeye LED headlamps (which, by the way, offer two different styles of integrated LED DRLs), a sporty-l0oking bumper, and what you get is a very distinctive front-end design that will surely attract young buyers.
In profile, the overall silhouette remains pretty much unchanged in comparison to the ZS EV, but in the higher variants, the Astor offers 17-inch turbine-inspired dual-tone alloy wheels, which not only look neat but complement the car's simple side look.
At the rear, too, there are quite a few design updates. For instance, the new LED taillamps also feature a boomerang-shaped light signature much like the headlamps, and the bumper houses a faux diffuser insert flanked by the faux dual exhausts. Plus, thankfully, the 'Astor' lettering on the tailgate isn't oversized. Therefore, the overall rear design remains organic and quite likeable.
The cabin of the Astor has been lined with plush soft-touch materials. The leather upholstery offers quite a premium feel, and other elements – like the flat-bottom steering wheel, well-bolstered seats, a 10.1-inch horizontally-set infotainment touchscreen, and a 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster with some good detailing – add to the Astor's premium quotient. MG will offer three colourway options for the upholstery – dual-tone Sangria Red, dual-tone Iconic Ivory, and Tuxedo Black – but we'll have to wait for the launch to know the variant-upholstery colour combinations.
MG is counting on the Astor's multiple segment-first features for its commercial success. The Astor is touted as the first SUV in its class to come with a personal AI assistant. Powered by Wikipedia, the AI bot can not only answer all your queries but can also be used to control numerous vehicle settings using both English and Hinglish voice commands. The assistant device set on top of the dashboard even features the capability to emote expressions – for instance, the screen displays a namaste greeting when you get into the car and start it up.
Apart from that, the Astor is also the first SUV in its segment to offer Level-2 Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). Thanks to this, the Astor offers up to 14 different ADAS features, which work via radar and camera inputs. These features can not only work via the vehicle's acceleration and braking but also through the steering.
Other segment-first features on offer with the Astor include Hill Descent Control (HDC), heated ORVMs, three power steering modes (Normal, Urban and Dynamic), and a Digital Bluetooth Key.
The Astor will be launched as a petrol-only offering, something that will most likely remain unchanged. There are two engines on offer – a 1.5-litre VTi-Tech naturally-aspirated (NA) unit and a smaller 1.35-litre 220Turbo unit. While the NA motor is good for 108bhp and 144Nm of torque, the turbocharged unit develops a healthy 138bhp and 220Nm of torque. The latter will be available exclusively with a six-speed torque converter automatic, but the NA unit will be offered with either a five-speed manual or an eight-step CVT gearbox.
Expect the MG Astor to hit the showroom floors early next month.