MG Gloster Off-road Review: First Drive

By Abhishek Chaliha | on October 9, 2020

We drive the MG Gloster off-road to gauge its 4x4 credentials. As an SUV that scores big on premiumness and features, we find out if it can match its butch appeal.

Big premium 4x4 SUVs, they are all about towering road presence and a plush appeal. But underneath that large body is a rugged ladder frame chassis, and ideally, a 4x4 transfer case. The latter opens up a whole different window for these large SUVs. While most buy an SUV of this stature for road presence and feel-good-factor, there’s also the other breed of customer, the off-roader! Off-road customers of these SUVs look very carefully into the 4x4 credentials of these vehicles and their go-anywhere capabilities. After all, for hobby or for work, if you’re looking for a 4x4, you’re going to choose an SUV with the highest amount of off-road cred.

Now, the latest contender in this class, the MG Gloster is making headlines with its well-priced nature and segment-leading equipment list. And having read on-road reviews of the Gloster, the question then on the minds of off-road customers is undoubtedly about the 4x4 capabilities of the SUV.

To answer your questions, we went over for a spot of off-roading in the Gloster. The off-road circuit was tailored for the Gloster by the folks at MG. Now, I personally have done some off-roading on the same circuit in the Fortuner, Endeavour, Alturas and MU-X. And I can say that many of the obstacles remains the same, apart from a few that have been carved out a little to ensure the footsteps of the Gloster do not come into contact. These obstacles include the chicken hole test, a ramp over test, axle benders hill climb, hill descent, side angle and water wading.

mg gloster axle bender test

Photography by: Pankaj Jakhar

Now, the ARAI figures for the Gloster haven’t been released when it comes to ground clearance. This also means we do not know the approach, break-over and departure angles for the SUV. Internationally, the SUV has a certified ground clearance of 210mm, this is 15mm lower than the Fortuner and Endeavour. And by the looks of it, the Gloster does look like it sits fairly low for an SUV.

But looks can be deceptive and I found this as a pleasant surprise, right from the first obstacle, which was an axle bender. Despite, those low air diffuser flaps in front of the front tyres, there was no contact.

But going back a little. The Gloster is a full-time 4WD SUV, unless you drive in Eco mode, when it goes into two-wheel drive, right until the moment where wheel slip is detected. At this point, the BorgWarner transfer case is electronically engaged automatically to send power to the front wheels.

I switched the drive terrain selector into Sand Mode before setting off, this sends the drivetrain into 4WD High mode. Under regular circumstances, there is great grip in this drive mode. But as I approached the axle bender, there was some slip from the wheels. So, as the SUV struggled a bit to climb up, I engaged Rock mode on the terrain selector and locked the rear differential. After this, it was a cakewalk for the Gloster to do a to and fro run across the axle benders and over another smaller set of obstacles.

mg gloster mud driving test

Next up was the ramp over test which included a set of rather deep ruts. But here again, the 4WD Low mode was mighty impressive. And more than anything it’s also the electronics of this SUV combined with the huge 480Nm of peak torque available from 1,500rpm that deliver such accurate and continuous power to the wheels that allow this rather large and heavy SUV to simply waltz over these obstacles. The degree of control the driver has is great. The only let down is the light and vague steering wheel which can leave you second-guessing about how much steering angle you are feeding to the tyres. This can be tricky and is very, very important to keep a vehicle stable over tricky obstacles.

Next up was a set of steep hill climb and decent obstacles. The climb up in 4WD High was impressive as the Gloster makes scaling such steep obstacles very easy. And throttle inputs feel immediate and accurate. The nose camera meanwhile does a good job of helping the drive see ahead while pointing skywards. If only the screen had better anti-glare treatment for a clearer view.

Now, once I was parked on the ramp over for the obstacle, I was asked to use the hill descent control system but ensure I always stayed in charge of braking. As the Gloster dropped down the steep incline, I always manually controlled the braking and the SUV went down smoothly, but because of my manual braking, I didn’t really feel the system override my inputs. The really impressive test however, came after as we dropped down, sideways from a near-vertical cliff face, that displayed the remarkable compose and poise from the Gloster as all of the weight shifted to the right front wheel as the vehicle pivoted down the hill, while gently throttle inputs ensured precise movements downhill. This one sure demanded a standing ovation!

Next up, was the chicken hole test. Here, the Gloster again provided some steep angles for photography but its soft steering makes it difficult to gauge the amount of steering input being fed in. I was quite surprised that the low set footrests didn’t come into contact anywhere, but then again, for this drive, MG has given the track a once over to make it suitable for the Gloster. And I suspect, these footrests will definitely bend over tough off-road obstacles, given that the long wheelbase and ground clearance definitely result in a modest break over angle.

The side angle tests for the Gloster at a highest of 37-degrees once again showed the off-road balance and poise of the SUV as it makes it so easy to control the vehicle at this steep an incline where you are figuratively sitting on the door pad at a certain point, given how tilted the SUV is over this obstacle.

mg gloster water wading test

The last test was a water wading test that was fairly fun and showcased how unfazed the SUV is while wading through high water. Although, the official wading depth for the Gloster hasn’t been revealed yet.

Overall, the Gloster felt very capable off-road. Its 4WD hardware and software are sourced from top-notch suppliers such as BorgWarner, Bosch and others. It’s definitely got great 4WD capabilities. I especially love that you can park the Gloster over the steepest of inclines, and without carrying any momentum can set the SUV going again without any effort by gently depressing the throttle pedal. This kind of stuff shows how good a 4x4 a vehicle truly is. And you can do all this while running the seat massager for the driver. Brilliant!

My apprehensions for its off-roading capabilities lie with its light steering and low ride height. But given how capable its running gear is and the well-balanced stance of the SUV, I definitely know that the Gloster feels all too easy and remarkable effortless to drive off-road.

  • MG Gloster

Engine: 1,996cc / 4 Cylinder / Twin-Turbocharged

Fuel: Diesel

Transmission: 8-speed Automatic / Four-wheel drive

Power: 215bhp @ 4,000rpm

Torque: 480Nm @ 1,500-2,400rpm

X-Factor: Utterly effortless to drive off-road, quite capable too.

Pros           
• Throttle accuracy
• Impressive power delivery over all surfaces

Cons
• Vague steering feel

• Low ride height

Also read - Toyota Fortuner vs Ford Endeavour + Isuzu D-Max V-Cross: Comparison

Tags: MG MG Gloster

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