By on July 1, 2019

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.

There are also plenty of questions for cars like these about their ability to meet our safety and emissions regs of course. Still, Ford imports the Chennai-built EcoSport to our shores, so such a move isn’t entirely impossible. Just improbable.

 

[Images: MG]

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31 Comments on “From Durham to Delhi: 2020 MG Hector, Featuring Benedict Cumberbatch...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Who would have guessed that the little-bitty MG would come back as a crossover? Now, if they’re as dependable as the little-bitty sports car they’re in big trouble

    Isn’t “Hector” a division of land like an acre? Interesting name

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    “Hector”? Seriously? Ramp, meet Fonzie on skis.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Kill it with fire!

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Nice, but does it hack my life?

  • avatar
    EGSE

    Perhaps Mr Cumberbatch can let us know if Hector is Turing complete like Christopher would have been.

  • avatar
    R Henry

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

    Pretty sure Hector has the same crashworthiness as a classic Beetle. In other words, none. As such, it is entirely incompatible for use/sale in the Western world.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      The Fiat 500L and 500X only sell with Jeep badges. I don’t see how an MG CUV would do any better without a Land Rover label. Maybe they should talk to Tata.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    Would it have killed them to make the center-stack octagonal? What else did they miss? I suppose I don’t have a problem with an MG CUV because I remember cars like the MG 1100, MG Magnette, and MG Maestro. They were slightly more sporting versions of Austins, Morrises, Wolsleys and Rovers. It isn’t as ridiculous as the fact that I just got back from a road trip where I constantly spotted Jaguar CUVs until I arrived at an off-road park.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    CAN’T BE ANY WORSE THAN A GM (GUANGZHOU-GUADALAJARA MOTORS) VEHICLE!

    In fact, it is likely better assembled, with higher quality parts, having better exterior and interior fit and finish, and much better reliability, WITH MORE COMPONENTS UTILIZED MADE IN THE USA, than anything from the MARY BARRA-LED GUANGZHOU-GUADALAJARA MOTORS (GM)!

    *At half the cost that MARY BARRA-LED GUANGZHOU-GUADALAJARA MOTORS (GM) could manage.

  • avatar

    What MG means? Mahatma Gandhi?

  • avatar
    Guitar man

    Looks like a tarted up version of the MG HS, which is made in LHD.

    The engine afaik is a detuned version of the base engine in the Equinox.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    Other than being under-tired for North America, not a bad effort. Of course it could sell. Mitsubishi is selling a fair number of its new chopped-butt mini-Lexus Eclipse Cross thingamajigs with similar horespower — and in base trim, similarly small wheels (though they bulk ’em up with more faux off-road sidewall) — for a damn sight more dough.

    Styling isn’t bad either. Modern Korean from the front, Budget German from the side.

    I have a feeling the Chinese are about to eat everyone’s lunch in automobiles, like they have in every other industry.

  • avatar
    Wes Joe

    I’ve read that the Hector is a right hand drive Baojun 530. In China they’re left-hand drive. Co-developed by Shanghai Auto & GM.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    HotPotato: I’ve been stating, as a prelude to a massive, global realignment (everything from jet aircraft, to telecommunications, to high speed trains and commodity automobiles, etc.) that the Chinese will have huge penetration within European and North American markets by 2030 (things like ICE vehicles are already seeing relatively significant market penetration even if under current domestic labels, and Chinese electric vehicle sales in these same markets will have 2x-3x the market penetration at 5x the pace given that the Chinese Gov’t has prioritized as EVs a massive state subsidized segment, as with 5G).

    It’s inevitable. Forget all the talk about anti-Chinese pushback by consumers or governments and look at things such as the Guangzhou Motors (GM) Buick Envision, as just one example (for now).

    When the Chinese make a serious push into marketing modern spec civilian aircraft to compete with Boeing, Airbus and Embraer S.A. bread and butter regional aircraft, as well as selling high spec Huawei 5G capable smartphones (that can rival and exceed Apple and Samsung equivalents on Chinese-component infrastructure 5G networks at much lower prices, things will’get interesting).

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Honestly, I’d love to see the MG brand make a comeback, even if it isn’t British any more. The Hector is a smart-looking car and 141 horses with a 6-speed is actually sufficient for many, if not most, daily drivers (though few today know how to row, outside of enthusiasts.)

    Now if only MG would also bring back a proper roadster (and not a speedster labeled as a roadster.)

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Interesting, I’m keen to see how well this car actually works .

    I’m old so Chinese means ‘probably junk’ to me just like Japanese did in 1960, my how things have changed .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Maymar

    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?

  • avatar
    Manic

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


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