Until a few years ago, a vehicle that listens to your command and replies to you could be a scene in science fiction films. If the filmmakers' imagination of technology left you impressed, get into the latest car from the MG stable and you could see and feel those things in real. The Astor is the first small SUV that comes with loads of AI technology.
Car with brains
The Astor features a small robot on the dashboard that will work as your personal AI assistant. It takes the place of idols on dashboards. Designed by US-based company Star Design, the robot responds by displaying emotions portrayed in the form of emoticons. It also turns its head towards the person with whom it is speaking. Like voice assistants, the robot speaks in the voice of a woman. Besides, it can sing a song for you, can crack a joke and clear your doubts by checking Wikipedia and read out news. The robot also keeps a tab on the condition of the vehicle. It can open the sunroof and turn on the navigation. These are among the around 80 connected car features in the Astor.
Phone is the key
If you forget the key of the vehicle, you can use your phone instead. Once you activate the digital key, you can not only open and close the car but also drive it. (But MG itself advises customers not to use this feature frequently because the phone's battery could drain and leave you stranded).
The Astor uses internet connectivity through a 4G Jio SIM.
Level 2 ADAS
The Astor also gets a segment-first advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). The system includes advanced cruise control, forward collision warning, auto emergency braking, lane keep assist, lane departure prevention, blind spot detection system, and speed assist among 14 autonomous features. Besides, the car also comes with six air bags, hill hold, hill descent, disc brakes on all four wheels, 360-degree camera, cornering assist foglamp and electric park brake.
The car shares its platform with MG's electric SUV CZ and is 4,323 mm long, 1,809 mm wide, and 1,650 mm tall. The 'celestial' grille provides the car a sporty look. The Astor also features small LED headlamps and stylish DRLs. The headlamps have nine crystal diamond elements. It gets 17-inch turbine-inspired two-tone alloy wheels and LED tail lamps with eyebrow-shaped design. The MG logo doubles up as the boot lid handle.
The Astor has the most premium interior among the vehicles in the segment. The dual-tone colour theme enhances the cabin feel. The 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system is compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Jio SIM comes with Jio Saavan app to listen to songs. Navigation duty is done by Map My India. The digital instrument cluster has a seven-inch large display. It also gets a steering assistance selector for three modes -- normal, urban and dynamic -- that allows you to select the resistance you require from the steering wheel. The robot is housed on the dashboard. It blinks its eyes while talking to the driver. Other features include panoramic sunroof, heated ORVMs, automatic climate control, rain-sensing wipers, 7-inch digital cluster and 6-way electrically adjustable driver seat.
No diesel engine
The Astor is powered by two petrol engines and there is no mention about a diesel option. The 1.5-litre petrol engine produces 120 bhp of peak power and 150 Nm of peak torque while the 1.3-litre turbo petrol engine churns out 163 bhp of peak power and 203 Nm of peak torque. While the 1.5-litre engine is mated to a manual gearbox and 8-step CVT automatic transmission, the 1.3-litre turbo petrol engine has a 6-speed automatic gearbox.
The company has announced that it will reveal the price of the car by the first week of October. Since it will take on Hyundai Creta, Kia Seltos, Nissan Kicks, Renault Duster and Skoda Kushaq, the price could range between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 16 lakh.