Here is little walkaround and short review of MG Astor.
The cabin is well-appointed with soft-touch materials used in most places and high-quality switchgear. The retro switches on the center console (something we saw in the Mercedes A-Class Limousine recently) are a great touch.
The seats are supportive and finding a comfortable driving position is easy. And yes, the "swears-by-all-black-interiors" yours truly loves the Sangria Red bits. It's just the right shade, one spot on either side on the shade card, and it'd be gaudy one way and boring the other. Of course, it's subjective and a matter of personal preference.
Best-in-class cabin ambiance?
Let's just say that if the badges were removed (and the signature MG electronic bits weren't a dead giveaway), nobody would doubt it if you told them it's a European / German car. It definitely feels comparable to or a notch above the segment competition.
Well-deserved praise aside, there are a few glaring ergonomic blunders, which we pointed out in our feedback to MG directly. The mirror adjustment knob is placed near the driver's right knee on the lower edge of the dashboard. It's not in the direct line-of-sight from the driving position and needs some fishing about and fiddling.
Driving experience as per the Team-BHPians
We drove the MG Astor 1.3L turbo-petrol at the Buddh International Circuit, and here are our brief initial impressions. Please note this is based off just a few laps on the perfect tarmac of the BIC and hence, it is simply a preliminary look. Our real-world test on public roads will show the entire picture.
The Astor is powered by a 1,349cc, 3-cylinder turbo-petrol engine from the GM / SAIC SGE (Small Gasoline Engine) family. It puts out 138 BHP @ 5,600 rpm & 220 Nm @ 3,600 rpm and is mated to an Aisin 6-speed TC automatic transmission. MG has confirmed that it's the same engine that is offered in the ZST in the Australia - New Zealand market. The outputs have been slightly tweaked to meet Indian emission norms and fuel standards. The motor has a single-scroll Mitsubishi turbocharger in its global specification. The ECU unit is from Bosch and the car sports a 75 Ah Exide battery as standard fitment.
Exterior & Drive
Facing the car, the large airbox is located on the left, with the intake routed all the way to the front grille, ahead of the radiator. This should help the motor breathe better with cooler air coming in. The turbo is mounted on the front of the block, fluid reservoirs (brake + coolant) and air-con low & high pressure line nipples are on the firewall, all easily accessible. The ECU is mounted on the side of the 75 Ah Exide battery, flanked by the fuse box.
Fire up the engine, and it settles into a reasonably refined (for a 3-pot motor) idle at ~900 rpm. The engine note is sporty when revved. Slot the gear shifter into D, release the brake pedal and the Astor crawls forward without any throttle input - a handy feature in peak urban traffic. Give it some gas and the car picks up speed smoothly. Upshifts are barely perceptible in D mode, and the Astor quickly moves up the gears with no jerky shifts. Turbo lag is controlled by the TC AT and the engine feels smooth lower down the rev range as the Astor climbs up to city speeds effortlessly.
Engine performance feels brisk. The car is quick in a straight line, and though I didn't do timed runs, 100 km/h comes up quickly, and the motor can cruise at fairly relaxed rpms in its mid-range due to the 6th cog, doing 100 km/h at 2,300 rpm and 120 km/h at 2,600-2,700 rpm. When pushed on the long straight of the BIC, it does 160 km/h and holds it at 4,000 rpm, but gets fairly vocal. Not much available poke beyond this, so was pointless to wring its neck.
Overall, the motor is well-suited to relaxed expressway cruising and sprinting at legal speeds. Not a road burner, but very competent.