We have already reported to you that MG Motor will launch an all-new SUV in the Indian market by the end of 2021. Likely to be called the MG Astor - as was revealed by a trademark filing by the company - it is essentially an ICE-powered version of the ZS EV, which is simply called the MG ZS in markets abroad. Although MG continues to sell the ZS EV in its pre-facelift guise in India, the ICE-powered ZS has already been updated last year in international markets. In fact, this facelifted version of petrol-powered MG ZS is what will make it to India by the end of this year.
Here, we would like to take you back to 2019, when we had the opportunity to test the MG ZS petrol at MG's Experience Center in Bangkok, Thailand. This, of course, is much before MG even started their operations in India. Even our test mule is a pre-facelift version of the MG ZS. But here's what you can expect from the driving experience of the upcoming SUV.
2019 MG ZS Petrol - Driving Impression
Our particular test mule was powered by a 1.5L 4-cylinder NA petrol engine that's tuned to produce 114hp and 150Nm of peak torque. It came mated to a 4-speed torque converter automatic gearbox. We got to experience the ZS on a track, testing its dynamics and overall performance and first impressions were pretty good. In the first round of tests where we observed the SUVs handling and braking performance, we came away impressed with its sharp steering, front-end lightness and good stopping power from disc brakes at all four corners.
However, when testing for overall performance around the track, we felt that the 1.5L NA petrol engine could have been sweeter with a manual gearbox. With this automatic gearbox, engine response at lower RPMs aren't great, but once you are in the power band, there's a progressive and linear delivery of power. In terms of handling, the MG ZS felt agile and nimble on its feet, and even inspired confidence when taking corners at triple digit speeds. Although there was an inherent body roll for being an SUV, the suspension felt firm and stable. In fact, the ZS strikes a very good balance in terms of ride and handling.
Also Read : 5 Unique/First-in-Segment Features Of MG Gloster
2021 MG Astor - What To Expect?
Fast forward to 2021, and the MG ZS will be making it to our shores as the MG Astor. Do note, that this being a facelift, the driving experience could largely remain the same. However, it does pack in quite some comprehensive exterior and interior updates.
The facelifted MG ZS comes with more aggressive styling with a new grille, revised projector headlamps with LED DRLs, a sportier bumper with a wide air dam and stylish foglamps with black accents. At the rear, the ZS has been updated with new LED tail lights and a sportier bumper. The car even features new alloy wheels.
On the inside, the dashboard of the ZS facelift remains more or less similar to the pre-facelift version. However, MG Motor have thrown in a larger 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system, a new digital instrument cluster and a re-designed center console. We expect these updates to filter down to the India-spec model as well.
Under the hood of the ZS, MG offers a wide range of petrol engine options, depending on the market. These includes a 111hp/160Nm 1.0-litre turbo-petrol engine; a 120hp/150Nm 1.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine and a 160hp/230Nm 1.3-litre turbo-petrol engine. MG Motor India could also continue with the 141hp, 1.5-litre petrol engine that currently does duty on the Hector and Hector Plus. We will have more details of the engine options closer to the launch of the vehicle. Prices are expected to start from INR 12 lakh (ex-showroom) and will take on the likes of the Hyundai Creta and Kia Seltos..