From Durham to Delhi: 2020 MG Hector, Featuring Benedict Cumberbatch

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
from durham to delhi 2020 mg hector featuring benedict cumberbatch

Foreign-market cars are always an interesting case study on these digital pages. The latest craft to catch our eye? The MG Hector, India’s newest family SUV.

When we said that brand, you may have thought we were going to say Britain’s newest family SUV. For that, you are easily forgiven. After all, the Morris Garages name is as quintessentially British as a kidney pie on a foggy morning. The brand was bought ages ago by Chinese interests, of course, and is now making inroads into the Indian market following a tough year of sales in its home country.

To amp things up, they’ve signed the devilishly debonair Benedict Cumberbatch to huck the Hector. About the length of the 2020 Ford Escape, this MG is packed with voice-activated and internet-connected technologies and priced at the equivalent of just $17,600.

Remind me again why cars like this won’t sell on our side of the pond?

Well, besides the obvious of course. The steering wheel is on the wrong side, and who knows how much fandangling it would take to switch it for left-hand drive markets. Perhaps a little; perhaps a lot. Only SAIC MG engineers know for sure. What the Hector does have are decent looks, the backing of a popular actor, feature-rich technology, and a rock-bottom price.

Engine selection is generally another knock against certain foreign-market cars, ones which allegedly don’t have the puff to cruise along Midwestern interstates. Hector makes 141 horsepower from its 1.5L turbocharged mill, compared to 179hp in a turbo Honda CR-V with the same displacement. A six-speed manual is standard.

But it’s the level of tech in that video advertising this $17,600 machine that gob-smacks your author. Sure, the company isn’t going to show the first 27 times Benedict had to ask Hector to turn on the air conditioning before it understood and carried out the command. But to have this feature on an extremely cheap SUV would probably be very compelling to some American customers and the 10.4-inch infotainment screen is much more seamlessly integrated than the iPad-on-the-dash look of the new Ford Explorer.

The names of its trim levels ⁠— Style, Super, Smart, and Sharp ⁠— are also very entertaining. “You’re looking Sharp today, Hector,” takes on a whole new meaning. Close examination of the brochure also reveals they call it a ‘co-pilot’ and not ‘passenger’ seat in this market, a phrase which is wholly satisfying to your author.

Join the conversation
2 of 31 comments
  • Maymar Maymar on Jul 02, 2019

    Who thought a guy who gets typecast playing aloof, anti-social braniacs would be just the person to sell you on a more personal, human experience?

  • Manic Manic on Jul 02, 2019

    China is LHD, except for HK, so they have probably something ready for LHD markets too.

  • Vulpine Regretfully, rather boring. Nothing truly unique, though the M715 is a real eye-grabber.
  • Parkave231 This counts for the Rare Rides installment on the Fox Cougar and Fox Thunderbird too, right? Don't want to ever have to revisit those......(They should have just called them Monarch/Marquis and Granada/LTD II and everything would have been fine.)
  • DM335 The 1983 Thunderbird and Cougar were introduced later than the rest of the 1983 models. If I recall correctly, the first models arrived in January or February 1983. I'm not sure when they were unveiled, but that would explain why the full-line brochures for Ford and Mercury were missing the Thunderbird and Cougar--at least the first version printed.The 1980 Cougar XR-7 had the same 108.4 inch wheelbase as the 1980 Thunderbird. The Cougar coupe, sedan and wagon had the shorter wheelbase, as did the Ford Granada.
  • Ehaase 1980-1982 Cougar XR-7 shared its wheelbase and body with the Thunderbird. I think the Cougar name was used for the 1977 and 1981 sedans, regular coupe and wagons (1977 and 1982 only) in an effort to replicate Oldsmobile's success using the Cutlass name on all its intermediates, although I wonder why Ford bothered, as the Granada/Cougar were replaced by the Fox LTD/Marquis in 1983.
  • Ken Accomando The Mark VIII was actually designed before the aero Bird, but FMC was nervous about the huge change in design, so it followed the Thunderbird a year. Remember, at this time, the 1983 Thunderbird was the first new aero Ford, with the Tempo soon following. It seems so obvious now but Ford was concerned if their buyers would accept the new aero look! To get the Lincoln buyers warmed up, they also debuted for the 1982 auto show season the Lincoln Concept 90…which really previewed the new Mark VII. Also, the new 1983 Thunderbird and Cougar debuted a little late, in Nov 1982, so perhaps that’s why they were left out of the full line brochures.