Putting 300+ Odd Kilometers On The Odo Of The First Level 1 Autonomous SUV In Its Segment: MG Gloster Review
The MG Gloster is the fourth offering of the marque in India. We lived with this mammoth SUV for a couple of days and put 300 odd miles on it. Here’s what we have to say post the drive…
What Is It?
Think of the Gloster as a ladder-on-frame SUV that is larger than the Toyota Land Cruiser, but comes at the price of a Fortuner. In the Indian context, the Gloster locks horns with the Toyota Fortuner, Ford Endeavour, and Mahindra Alturas. The Gloster, however, packs more tech and equipment than all its rivals. This technological upper hand is indeed its key USP. The Gloster is, in essence, a rebranded version of the SAIC-owned Maxus D90. The vehicle retails in markets like Australia and New Zealand as the LDV D90. SAIC also offers an electric version of the SUV as the Maxus EUNIQ 9 in some markets.
Indians love BIG vehicles and the MG Gloster has everything to satisfy the size-savvy. It is 4,985mm long, 1,867mm tall, and 1,926mm wide. There is a gigantic wheelbase of almost 3 meters, 2,950 mm to be precise. It offers an epic road presence and looks pretty intimidating in most scenarios. The ground clearance, however, is slightly less than its rivals. Strangely though, this does not hinder the Gloster’s off-roading abilities much.
Look at the Gloster for the thousandth consecutive time and you will still not find a distinct design cue that would announce it to be an MG. There is absolutely NO resemblance to the other MG cars in India save for the MG logo or the Internet Inside badging. This could be due to the fact that the Hector, Hector Plus, and the Gloster have different roots- the Maxus and Baojun.
The front end boasts of a huge chromed grille and a set of stylish LED headlamps that offer powerful throws at night. The first thing you would notice on the profile would be the massive 19-inch wheels shod with 255/55 rubber. The front doors have a ‘Brit Dynamic’ badge to denote the British roots of MG. The rear design would have looked a bit too lackluster if it were not for all those chrome badges. There are four different badges- 4WD, ADAS, Internet Inside, and a Gloster of humongous proportions. There are also quad pipes at the rear which are no short of mere design gimmicks. The car has just two actual pipes, one on either side. The tail lamp design roughly reminded us of that of the Pajero Sport that was on sale here, sometime back.
There is an air of luxury to the overall cabin design and layout. The cabin color scheme remains a blend of tan brown and black. The dashboard and the doors get tan leather topping, and feels quite premium and upmarket. A large 12.3-inch trapezoidal touchscreen dominates the central stage. The infotainment screen is a bit laggy but is well laid out and readable. It gets the MG-characteristic Gaana app integration, in addition to having modern-day technologies like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The audio quality is well above average. The Gloster also gets a 360-degree camera, the display quality of which is far better than what we had seen on the previous MG models.
The front seats come electrified. The driver seat can be electrically adjusted in more ways than the co-driver seat and gets a massage function as well. We found the lumbar support on the driver seat to be a bit too much even in its lowest setting.
The second row gets two supremely comfortable captain seats that are very well cushioned and adjustable in multiple ways. The second row feels the least claustrophobic, thanks to the large panoramic sunroof. There are also many creature comforts for the second-row occupants like air-con vents, charging ports and a couple of bottle holders hidden under the seats. The seats offer more head and knee rooms than you would need.
You can access the third row through the narrow passage between the captain chairs. The third row gets leg and knee rooms that are the best in class. One could wish for a bit more thigh support though, but again, this is the third row! The Gloster can seat 6 comfortably, is what we would say.
Before the actual market launch of the SUV, we had expected the Gloster to have the Fiat-sourced 2.0L mill from the Hector. However, the SUV upon launch had a 2.0 L diesel engine sourced from Shanghai Diesel Engine Co, a subsidiary of SAIC. The engine comes in two different configurations- one with a single turbo and another with a twin-scroll turbocharger. The former has an output of 161hp and the latter a good 215hp. Thus, the top-spec Gloster is the most powerful offering in the segment and returns an impressive 480Nm of torque as well. The only transmission on offer on the Gloster is an 8-speed torque converter type automatic unit. Our test car had the twin-turbo engine mated to the 8AT.
The Gloster is not too enthusiastic in getting off the line, but then is not too lazy either. The turbo spools up at around 2100 rpm, below which nonumber of times of hitting the throttle hard would get you to speeds. There flows in decent torque post-2100 rpm, which continues to roughly 3500 rpm, and dies out at around 3900 spins per minute. 0-100 comes in 11-ish seconds- Quite impressive for a car of this size.
The gearbox does a great deal in keeping the engine spinning in the ideal band at most times. Essentially a ZF-made unit, it feels a bit dated for this segment and isn’t as rapid-shifting as most of the other modern-day ATs. You definitely need to get used to its unique driving character before you can enjoy the drive.
The Gloster’s diesel powerhouse sports decent refinement levels. Though a bit audible, there is no pronounced vibrations or harshness to it. As obvious from its persona, the Gloster is no SUV that you would want to slam into corners and come out fast. Not that it would scare the blues out of you, but you would definitely lose a fair bit of confidence in the process. Surprisingly though, the body roll is well contained for a ladder-on-frame SUV of this kind! We felt the brakes to be a bit spongy, but they do succeed in making the car shed speeds with ease.
The Gloster offers a comfortable ride in almost all driving conditions. There is minimal vertical wobbling motion at higher speeds. The ride at the rear rows feels plush and planted. The springs on this car do very good jobs in providing for decent ride comfort on broken patches. In fact, we felt it to offer better ride comfort than all its competition!
Level 1 Autonomous Driving- Let The Car Do Its Thing !
When we say Autonomous driving, the first thing that’d come to your mind would be those fancy looking electric cars that roam around all by themselves. Well, this is not any of those! Level 1 autonomous driving system essentially means that this car can park on its own and can also cruise on its own. This is not the first time that we are seeing such fancy stuff here. Vehicles like the Volvo XC90 have already had it in the past. But, this is definitely the first time that this technology is being offered in a car of this class. So, how do these work?
- Let’s start with the Automatic Parking. We have seen this system on many VW Group cars. The MG Gloster can park itself automatically in both perpendicular and parallel parking situations. However, this car would do just the steering part, you will have to do the throttle, braking, and gear changes all by yourself.
- The Active Cruise Control is easier than it sounds- Set your optimal cruise speed and the car maintains the speed, brakes if an obstacle comes in front, and accelerates back to the set speed once it subsides. Quite interesting a tech, the adaptive cruise control literally spoils you. It makes you lazy, a LOT LAZY! We munched roughly 90 odd kilometers leaving the vehicle fully in the autonomous mode. The overall experience was quite impressive. But, we cannot say this would fit in perfectly in the Indian context, where the traffic is too uncivilized for such tech. We had a couple of times when a random car would show up all of a sudden and the Gloster would slam its brakes in one frantic go !
The Gloster cannot be called a fuel-efficient SUV as such. During our time with the car, we drove it on various roads, terrains and with various driver behaviours. The highest figures we got were 6-8 kmpl. When driven the most ruthlessly, the Gloster returned an efficiency of around 5kmpl. We think these lean figures could be due to the ageing engine and the dated transmission units,
The Gloster range starts at INR 28.98 lakh. The range topping variant, the one that we had for review, costs around INR 35.38 lakh.
Can It Go Offroads?
Well, the MG Gloster does come with an All Wheel Drive system and thus should be good at offroading too. We, however, did not take to any trail this time, courtesy to a tight-packed schedule with the vehicle. However, we will be soon bringing out a detailed offroad story with the Gloster. Stay tuned for the same…