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

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

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.

Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

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  • 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.

  • JK I grew up with Dodge trucks in the US, and now live in Turin, Italy, the home of Fiat. I don't think Italians view this as an Italian company either. There are constant news articles and protests about how stalantis is moving operations out of Italy. Jeep is strangely popular here though. I think last time I looked at stelantis's numbers, Jeep was the only thing saving them from big big problems.
  • Bd2 Oh yeah, funny how Trumpers (much less the Orange Con, himself) are perfectly willing to throw away the Constitution...
  • Bd2 Geeze, Anal sure likes to spread his drivelA huge problem was Fisher and his wife - who overspent when they were flush with cash and repeatedly did things ad hoc and didn't listen to their employees (who had more experience when it came to auto manufacturing, engineering, etc).
  • Tassos My Colleague Mike B bought one of these (the 300 SEL, same champagne color) new around June 1990. I thought he paid $50k originally but recently he told me it was $62k. At that time my Accord 1990 Coupe LX cost new, all included, $15k. So today the same car means $150k for the S class and $35k-40k for the Accord. So those %0 or 62k , these were NOT worthless, Idiot Joe Biden devalued dollars, so he paid AN ARM AND A LEG. And he babied the car, he really loved it, despite its very weak I6 engine with a mere 177 HP and 188 LBFT, and kept it forever. By the time he asked me to drive it (to take him to the dealer because his worthless POS Buick Rainier "SUV" needed expensive repairs (yes, it was a cheap Buick but he had to shell out thousands), the car needed a lot of suspension work, it drove like an awful clunker. He ended up donating it after 30 years or so. THIS POS is no different, and much older. Its CHEAPSKATE owner should ALSO donate it to charity instead of trying to make a few measly bucks off its CARCASS. Pathetic!
  • RHD The re-paint looks like it was done with a four-inch paintbrush. As far as VWs go, it's a rebadged Seat... which is still kind of a VW, made in Mexico from a Complete Knock-Down kit. 28 years in Mexico being driven like a flogged mule while wearing that ridiculous rear spoiler is a tough life, but it has actually survived... It's unique (to us), weird, funky (very funky), and certainly not worth over five grand plus the headaches of trying to get it across the border and registered at the local DMV.