When buying a new car, it’s easy to get swayed by the flash and dazzle. Big horsepower, incredible fuel economy, low EMIs – those are just some of the headline numbers trumpeted by manufacturers to swing sales in their favour. Those numbers do count, of course, but once the initial euphoria of new car ownership begins to wear thin, reality kicks in. Maintenance costs, service intervals, longevity of consumables, spare parts prices – these elements, sometimes not taken into account during the purchase decision, ultimately become important concerns for car owners. To address some of these concerns, Autocar India recently conducted its first Maintenance Cost Study, where sedans, hatchbacks and SUVs across multiple brands and segments were analysed and rated for their total maintenance costs, taking into account cost and service life of spares, service costs, labour rates and other variables that count towards long-term cost of ownership.
In this very detailed study, one of the segments analysed was Executive SUVs, which pitted the MG Hector against its competitors on service and maintenance costs. Not surprisingly, it was the Hector that came out on top. It was rated as being most economical to run, with significantly lower-priced spares and lower labour rates, as compared to the competition. What was surprising, however, was that the MG Hector was not only the most economical to run in the Executive SUVs segment, but that its running costs were found to be highly competitive when compared to cars a segment lower as well. In fact, for example, several compact SUVs, while being cheaper to buy than the Hector, may be more expensive to run than MG’s champion car. Check out excerpts from the survey to discover more pleasant surprises about the MG Hector.
In this segment, the petrol competitors include the MG Hector, Jeep Compass, VW T-Roc and the Skoda Karoq, all of which use turbo-petrol engines. In the diesel camp, three out of the four competitors, namely the Compass, Hector and Tata Harrier, are powered by the same 2.0-litre FCA diesel engine, while the fourth rival, the Mahindra XUV500, uses an in-house 2.2-litre powerplant.
- The petrol MG Hector has a service interval of one year/10,000km, while Jeep and Skoda have a 15,000km annual service. However, the MG is the most economical to run due to considerably lower-priced spares and more pocket-friendly labour rates.
- The Jeep’s parts costs are much higher than the Hector’s and what further drives up costs is the 1.4 turbo-petrol engine’s spark plug set, which costs Rs 3,960.
- The fully imported Skoda Karoq’s running costs are higher than those of the Hector and Compass, and a significant cost is its fan belt/ drive belt replacement at the fourth year or 60,000km service, which costs Rs 6,108, excluding labour.
- But the most expensive petrol offering is the also-imported Volkswagen T-Roc, and despite the first service being free of labour charges, the second, third and fourth services’ labour charges contribute significantly to its running cost.
- All the SUVs powered by the FCA-sourced 2.0-litre diesel engine have a service interval of one year/15,000km, whereas the Mahindra XUV500 needs a service every 10,000km.
- What comes as a surprise is that the homegrown Tata Harrier is the most expensive to run. This isn’t down to higher spare costs alone, but because of labour-intensive jobs like the fan belt/drive belt and belt tensioner replacement, every four years.
- Also, in addition to regular service intervals, the Harrier also requires a basic checkup at 22,500, 37,500 and 52,500km, each of which costs Rs 1,416 (which we have added to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th service costs)
The executive sedan segment has dwindled down to merely the Honda Civic and the Hyundai Elantra. The third car in the segment, the fully imported Skoda Octavia RS 245, isn’t exactly a direct competitor due to its price and performance, but we’ve included it here anyway.
- The Hyundai Elantra is much cheaper to maintain than the Honda Civic, costing a little more than half of what the Civic does per kilometre. Interestingly, Hyundai also charges for labour from the 40,000km service onwards, at a flat Rs 3,369 for each service.
- Driving up the Civic’s costs a bit more are coolant and brake fluid replacements, which aren’t necessary for the Elantra, as well as higher labour charges applicable from the 20,000km service onwards.
- In the Skoda’s case, the engine oil itself costs Rs 5,472 during each service, plus additional items like spark plugs, fan belt/ drive belt, transmission/transaxle oil and brake fluid further add to its total costs. Also, higher labour costs of over Rs 5,700 for the 30,000km and 45,000km service, and over Rs 6,500 for the 60,000km service, make the Skoda the costliest to maintain.
SUVs are all the rage now and this segment has been hugely popular, all the way since its inception with the Renault Duster back in 2012, with a number of customers as well as players today. Comprising of blockbuster models like the Kia Seltos and Hyundai Creta, this segment also includes other biggies like the Renault Duster petrol and the ladder-frame Mahindra Scorpio.
- All the models in this segment have a one-year/10,000km service interval.
- The Hyundai Creta is the most economical to run in this segment, with the lowest par ts prices and the most affordable labour rates.
- What’s interesting is, contrary to the popular notion of turbo-petrols being more expensive to run, Hyundai’s turbo-petrol costs about as much as the regular 1.5-litre petrol version.
- The Renault Duster is the only one that warrants a coolant and fan belt/drive belt change every 48 months, thus adding to its costs.
- Hyundai and Kia share the same engines as well as several parts, but the Kia Seltos is a bit more expensive to run than the Hyundai.
- Because the S-Cross petrol shares its engine with the Brezza, the cost of spares and also the service is identical. However, that total cost is a bit higher than its competitors making this petrol crossover the most expensive to run.
- Mahindra charges for labour only from the 30,000km service onwards, but the Scorpio is costlier to run due to the comparatively higher costs of an oil change every 10,000km and an air filter change every 20,000km.
Compact SUVs seem to be just the perfect body style for India, combining the space and practicality of an SUV with the compact footprint of a small car. So much so that there have already been two new launches in the segment this year – the Sonet and Urban Cruiser – which, though, are too new to include in this survey. This segment sees a fair fight between a number of players like the Maruti Brezza, Tata Nexon, Ford EcoSport and the Hyundai Venue. We’ve even included Ford and Honda’s compact crossovers, the Freestyle and WR-V.
- All the compact SUVs have their service intervals set at one year/10,000km, except the Tata Nexon whose intervals are one year/15,000km.
- The Ford Freestyle, whether with the 1.2-litre petrol or the 1.5-litre diesel, turns out to be the most economical to run.
- In the case of the Hyundai Venue, labour is chargeable from the 30,000km service onwards, at a flat Rs 2,220, making it among the more affordable ones to run.
- The Honda WR-V is one of the pricier cars to maintain in the segment, with the petrol version’s maintenance cost per kilometre being even higher than most of its diesel competitors.
- The running costs of the Tata Nexon are higher than the Honda, due to costlier replacement parts.
- The Tata also requires a minor check-up service at intervals of 7,500km, which is chargeable at Rs 1,000 for each service, starting with the 22,500km check-up (which we have included in the second, third and fourth service costs).
- Surprisingly, the Maruti Vitara Brezza is the priciest to maintain here. And while its service costs are lower than those of the petrol Nexon, it requires two more services before the 60,000km mark.
MG HECTOR WITHOUT PARALLEL
The Hector is now about 1.5 years old in the Indian market and in that relatively short period of time, the SUV has stamped its authority over its segment, winning both customers’ appreciation and critics’ admiration. MG sold an impressive 3,625 units of the Hector in October this year, the highest number since its launch back in June 2019, when it had established a record of sorts, netting 10,000 bookings in less than a month.
Size matters for most SUV buyers, and the Hector boasts impressive proportions, which lend it substantial road presence. With its 4.65m length, 18.3cm of ground clearance, 17-inch alloy wheels, 587-litre boot space and 10.4-inch colour touchscreen, the Hector invites you to live large. And the engines on offer – a 1.5-litre turbo-petrol that makes 143 horsepower and 250Nm of torque, and a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel that produces 170 horsepower and 350Nm of torque – ensure that this big SUV always has ample shove, whether you’re trundling along in slow city traffic or travelling at triple-digit speeds on the expressway. The 48V petrol hybrid, which offers an extra 20Nm of pulling power, also helps you do your bit for the planet, while providing improved fuel economy as well. And while a slick and efficient 6-speed manual transmission is standard with both engines, the petrol variant also gets an optional 6-speed dual-clutch automatic, which makes everyday driving so much easier and hassle-free.
MG Hector broke new ground and was India’s ‘first connected car’, with 55+ connected car features.
Equipped with iSmart tech, the Hector was the first fully Internet-enabled SUV in India, with smart navigation, voice commands, full smartphone compatibility and Internet connectivity with OTA updates for the car’s software. Affluent young urban buyers, which form a major chunk of the Hector’s customers, want to stay connected 24×7 and the Hector facilitates connectivity even when on the move. The large, bright colour touchscreen makes it easy and intuitive for the driver to access the car’s rich set of functions and features, while the large windows and panoramic sunroof make the cabin feel bright and airy, with the powerful climate control system keeping things cool. The plush seats are ergonomically designed and remain very comfortable over the long haul, while the driver gets a six-way electrically adjustable seat, and tilt and telescopic adjust for the steering; almost anyone should be able to find a driving position that works best for them in the Hector.
While the Indian government has now mandated certain basic safety standards for all cars and SUVs sold in India, the MG Hector has always been ahead of the curve, offering a comprehensive 25+ standard safety features and equipment. There’s anti-lock brakes (ABS) for safe braking at high speeds (also, higher levels of safety in case the driver has to perform sudden, hard braking in unforeseen circumstances, especially on wet, slippery tarmac), traction control and an electronic stability program (ESP) and electronic brake force distribution (EBD), all of which can be very useful during hard cornering and/or sudden lane change manoeuvres. There’s also a Hill Hold Control system for tricky ascents, multiple airbags, three-point seatbelts for all passengers, ISOFIX child-seat anchors and a tyre-pressure monitoring system for added safety. For the driver’s convenience, the Hector also has front and rear parking sensors and a 360-degree around-view camera, for easier, safer parking and reversing.
The MG Shield aftersales and service solution has several industry-first plans.
Apart from the Hector’s performance, drivability, technology and safety factors, there’s also MG Motor India’s high levels of customer engagement and customer care. Consider the MG Shield, an end-to-end aftersales and service solution that offers an array of plans for MG customers’ convenience. The segment benchmark is the ‘555’ plan, which offers a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty, five years of unlimited kilometres roadside assistance, and five services where labour costs are free. The company even has a courtesy car programme, which allows you to remain mobile when your Hector is sent for servicing or repairs. Maintenance plans start at a low Rs 8,000 for three years/30,000km and MG’s 3-60 buy-back plan offers a buy back value of 60 percent of the original ex-showroom price after three years of ownership, which is quite impressive.
With lowest-in-class running and maintenance costs, aligned with class-leading space, power, performance, safety, ride and handling, the Hector is a clear winner in the executive SUV space. Prospective buyers in this segment would do well to test drive a Hector before making a purchase decision – once you’ve driven the Hector, we’re convinced you’ll never settle for anything less.