MG Gloster Savvy: First Drive Review
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The MG Gloster is not just bigger than its rivals, it also promises to deliver a more premium experience. Does it succeed?
MG entered the Indian market with a bang last year with the Hector and followed it up with the electric ZS EV. Now they are ready to launch their third product, the enormous Gloster, which we first got to see at this year’s Auto Expo. Saying the Gloster is big is an understatement, in fact it is almost as big as the immense Toyota Land Cruiser 200. But apart from being enormous the Gloster also promises to offer a more premium experience than its competitors. So does it deliver on its promise?
As far as looks are concerned the biggest draw for the Gloster is its intimidating size. To put things into perspective as compared to the Endeavour, which is currently the size king in the segment, the Gloster is bigger in every direction. Even its wheelbase is a massive 100mm longer than the Ford. In terms of design, unlike the smaller Hector, the Gloster doesn’t try too hard and has a traditional SUV stance and elements. Highlights up front is the massive grille that is tastefully finished in matt chrome and the wing-shaped full LED headlamps.
In profile the size does do the talking and the mildly flared wheel arches and the chrome strip surrounding the glasshouse adds some jazz. From the rear the Gloster looks a bit ordinary and there are also some elements that are a bit tacky. The Gloster lettering pasted on the boot lid looks a size too big and the genuine looking quad tail pipes are actually fake. Behind the shiny metal exhaust tips you will find just a single outlet. Overall, the Gloster looks attractive and has loads of presence but compared to the Endeavour it does lack a bit of finesse and muscle.
Interiors done right
The biggest trump card of the Gloster is its interior. The first thing that really surprises you is the quality: it feels premium and a cut above the segment in most places. The upper portion of the dash and door pads uses premium soft touch materials and the leather finish on the dash oozes quality. Even the leather upholstery on the seats look fantastic thanks to the stitching consistency and quilted finish. Unfortunately, because of these very high grade materials some other bits do seem a bit budget. Lower down on the dash you will find hard scratchy plastics and the rear air con vents look out of place and a bit cheap. But apart from that, the Gloster’s cabin impresses in terms of quality and might set new benchmarks in its segment.
The Gloster’s dashboard is attractive but clearly the design theme isn’t original. The layout is almost a carbon copy of newer BMWs, especially when you look at the centre console. The infotainment screen housing, air con vents and even the climate control buttons and knobs look almost the same. Talking of the infotainment system, it is much easier to use as compared to the Hector thanks to its horizontal layout. The screen resolution is as good as it gets, but the touch response is sometimes slow and not as snappy as you get on some rival cars.
Thanks to the high seating, you get a commanding view from the Gloster’s driver seat. The driver is also pampered by feel good features like a powered seat with memory and a cooling function, and it also gives you a cosseting massage. Unfortunately, the front passenger has to make do with just a powered seat. The spacious middle row doesn’t come as a surprise considering the size of the Gloster. There is an abundance of knee-room and despite the large panoramic sunroof, headroom too is good enough for tall people. In this top Savvy variant you get comfortable captain seats for the middle row with height and reach adjustable headrests. Combined with the massive glasshouse, it is a comfortable place to be in.
On the downside, the seat is placed quite low to the floor, which compromises on under thigh support. The third row of seats is placed even lower to the floor and the flat seat base results in you sliding forward if the driver goes a bit hard on the brakes. Other than that the Gloster arguably has the best third row in its segment. The sliding second row ensures there is more than enough knee-room, and even headroom is not an issue. As a result adults will find these seats quite comfortable even over long journeys.
When it comes to practicality the Gloster doesn’t disappoint. Other than the smallish glovebox, you get big door pockets up front, a huge storage box under the front armrest and a phone slot with a wireless charging pad. But MG surely should have given a cooling fan for your phone as it does get quite warm while charging. Middle-row passengers also won’t feel left out with them getting two foldable cup-holders, a mobile holder, seat back pockets and two bottle holders in the doors. Third row of passengers too get two cupholders and seatback pockets. Obviously with all three rows up there isn’t much boot space on offer, but once you fold the third row down you get a humongous square-shaped loading bay. The third row also has a 60:40 split folding function which adds to the convenience. On the downside the loading lip is quite high which can make putting heavy luggage a bit of a pain.
Big on features
Looking at the features list, you know MG has thrown the kitchen sink at the Gloster. In the top Savvy variant you get convenience features like connected car tech, three-zone climate control, a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system, cooled driver seat with massage function, drive modes, Android Auto / Apple CarPlay, auto headlamps, rain sensing auto wipers, wireless phone charging, a powered tailgate, a 360 surround view camera and a lot more. Talking about unique features the Gloster offers a lot of that too. You get adaptive LED headlamps, 64 colour interior ambient lighting, a 12-way power adjustable driver seat with memory function, an inbuilt PM 2.5 air purifier, heated ORVMs and a massive panoramic sunroof.
When it comes to safety the Gloster delivers a lot more than the competition. Apart from getting the usual bits like six airbags, electronic stability program and traction control, in the top Savvy variant you also get a lot of active safety features. Using the front camera the Gloster warns you if you are getting too close to the car in front, and if it detects that you are going too fast behind a slow moving or stationary vehicle it can automatically apply the brakes as well. You also get a lane departure warning which lets you know if you are accidentally leaving your lane. Then there is the blindspot monitoring system which basically detects if there are any vehicles in your blindspot while changing lanes and warns you via the ORVM mounted red lights. In India cruise control systems are quite useless because of heavy traffic and erratic driving habits. But the Gloster gets adaptive cruise control which not only maintains your set cruising speed but also slows down the car and maintains a safe distance if you catch a car in front. And once your lane is clear it automatically accelerates back to your set speed.
The Savvy variant of the Gloster is powered by a 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel engine that makes best-in-class figures of 218PS and 480Nm. The lower variants on the other hand will get a less powerful single turbo diesel engine but they will share the same 8-speed automatic transmission.
At first you might think that the Gloster will be intimidating to drive but that's not the case. The 218PS engine feels powerful from the get go and the Gloster moves forward from standstill with enthusiasm. This engine has loads of bottom end torque and combining that with the smooth shifting automatic transmission, the Gloster feels punchy yet smooth to drive. Ambling along in city traffic is easy too, and because the gearbox is quick to downshift, overtaking even fast moving cars in town is easy. Thanks to good cabin sound insulation the engine noise doesn’t ever get intrusive, which adds to its soothing nature. Parking this mammoth too is relatively easy thanks to the light steering and the fact that you get a 360 degree surround view camera. The camera feed however is a bit distorted and takes time getting used to. To get around this problem you also get an auto park function which works well even while parking in tight spots.
If the engine and gearbox behaves well in the city then out on the highway it impresses even more. Thanks to the tall 7th and 8th gears, the Gloster cruises in a relaxed manner with the engine spinning at just 1750rpm at 100kmph. Even overtaking is easy thanks to the punchy engine and the quick shifting transmission. The Gloster also gets three driving modes for the road. There is Eco which feels more than adequate for a relaxing drive, then there is Auto which adapts the gearbox and the throttle response according to the way you are driving. And then there is Sport which sharpens up the throttle and the gearbox stays in a lower gear for quicker responses. You also get paddle shifters if you want to change gears manually.
In our performance tests, the Gloster reached the 100kmph mark in a brisk 11.5 seconds, which is at par with the competition. What’s not so impressive however is its fuel efficiency. Considering the powerful engine and the heavy body the Gloster managed just 9.48kmpl in the city while out on the highway it delivered 10.08 kmpl, making it one of the least efficient cars in the segment.
Apart from the potent powertrain, the Gloster’s ride quality makes it an even better highway companion. It easily absorbs everything our roads throw at it. Potholes are dispatched with a distant, well-damped thunk and it manages to retain decent composure without feeling uncomfortable out on the highway. Straight line stability too is impressive with it feeling reassuring even at high speeds.
At low speeds however you do hear the suspension working over rough road surfaces, and this is where we think the Endeavour has a distinct advantage. There is quite a bit of body movement too but it never gets to the point where it feels uncomfortable.
We also drove the Gloster in peak hour traffic and the sheer width and length can make it a bit of a squeeze through tight spots. Still, the light steering, big glass area and square sides make it easy to judge where its extremities lie.
When it comes to handling, the Gloster feels exactly how we expect a heavy and tall SUV to feel. The steering is slow and has a lot of turns lock to lock, and the high centre of gravity results in body roll around corners. On the upside, when driven in an unhurried manner, it surprisingly feels manageable and more importantly, safe and predictable. There is plenty of grip from the wide tyres and the brakes too offer good stopping power.
In terms of off-road ability the Gloster comes with three modes: Snow, Sand and Rock. You also get hill descent control and hill hold assist. This system alters the traction control, ABS and ESP to make it commendable in any given situation. But considering the Gloster doesn’t have a low range gearbox we don’t expect it to be as capable as the Ford Endeavour or the Toyota Fortuner when the going gets tough.
So does the Gloster live up to the promise of delivering a premium experience? Absolutely. The interior quality is almost flawless and the comfortable seats and spacious cabin makes it a fantastic car to spend time in. Then there is its long convenience and safety features list which can put even some cars twice its price to shame. Even the engine and gearbox combo works really well, be it in the city or out on the highway, and the comfortable ride results in a car you can spend long hours in. What we expected to be better however is the fuel efficiency, which is disappointingly low compared to its rivals. We expect the Gloster to cost between Rs 34 lakh for the base and Rs 38 lakh for this top Savvy variant. If priced close to the Endeavour and Fortuner, MG definitely has a potential winner in the Gloster.