Datsun GO and GO+ CVT: First Drive Review
- Sep 27, 2019
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For a brand that gave us a car like the 240Z aka the legendary Fairlady, Datsun has seen a radical shift in focus. Nissan brought the Datsun name back in 2013 to offer small, affordable cars to the masses, especially in emerging markets like India. For a country obsessed with affordability, that should have spelt instant success, but the Go and GO+ didn’t quite click, particularly since cost cutting in the quest for affordability was pretty obvious on both cars. The redi-GO concept Nissan showcased at the 2014 Auto Expo looked promising, and the production version that’s set to be launched seems to have a lot going for it too.
Nissan invited us to Kolkata, the city of joy, to experience its cheery little hatchback that shares a lot with its cousin and arch rival, the Renault Kwid. I for one was keen on seeing how the redi-GO feels after the impressive little Kwid, but the bigger question is will the redi-GO be able to revive Datsun’s fortunes?
The redi-GO’s design is completely different from the Kwid, unlike Renault-Nissan’s previous offerings that were ‘badge-engineered’. The redi-GO looks nothing like the Kwid which works in its favour. In fact, it looks pretty much unlike any other car in its class. Datsun has managed to make it look as close to the concept as possible, which means the redi-GO looks a lot more modern than its rivals. The edgy design, especially the front-end with the sloping hood that extends into the hexagonal grille gives it a youthful appeal. The headlights looks nice too, especially with their split design. Same cannot be said about the tiny LED DRLs though, since they are barely noticeable.
The front three-quarter is the most appealing angle to look at the redi-GO, especially thanks to the sharp cut that runs from the front door right up to the tail lights. The design of the tail gate is again unique, but I didn’t quite like the way the taillights have been designed. On the whole, it is a car that looks eye-catching, especially in that bright shade of green.
Interiors and Features:
The redi-GO’s dashboard is washed in grey, and overall quality isn’t great. The dashboard feels as if it were built to a cost, and even the exposed sheet metal on the doors and C-pillar accentuate that feel. Thankfully, Datsun has ditched the GO’s old-school front bench seat in favour of two conventional seats, which look nice but could have offered some more comfort. To ensure that the passengers at the back remain comfortable, Datsun has restricted how far back you can push the driver’s seat. As a result taller, bigger drivers will not feel too comfortable behind the wheel despite overall space inside the car being decent for its size.
What’s more, cushioning on the seats seems good enough for city jaunts, and I’m not entirely convinced they will be comfortable on longer drives. Expectedly, seating three adults at the back is a very tight squeeze, and the seat back for the rear bench is a tad too upright as well. The redi-GO doesn’t have too much to flaunt when it comes to features either, unlike the Kwid. The Datsun makes do with a single DIN music system which feels below par. That said, it is a whole lot better than the nondescript audio system we’ve seen on the GO. Datsun is even offering USB and AUX connectivity in the redi-GO, though surprisingly it decided to not offer Bluetooth connectivity, especially when you consider the fact that cars like the Nano and the Kwid offer it. The display for the audio system though isn’t bright enough for viewing, especially during daytime.
Under the redi-GO’s hood is the same 800cc, three-cylinder motor from the Kwid, offering an identical 54PS and 72Nm of torque. The clatter from the three-pot motor makes itself audible inside the cabin and a few vibrations can even be felt on the steering wheel, but that’s something you can live with as it isn’t too bothersome. The engine has been tuned for maximum efficiency, and to ensure the car doesn’t stutter while taking off, you have to give throttle a gentle dab. This can get annoying in traffic, not to mention affect fuel efficiency. The motor isn’t the kind that likes to be revved hard or pushed to the limits and is happiest pottering around at low to mid revs where it feels relaxed. Unsurprisingly, Datsun is claiming the redi-GO will return over 25kmpl.
Ride and Handling:
The CMF-A platform underpinning the redi-GO and Kwid has been designed to offer a plusher ride as compared to sporty handling, and the trait is obvious in the Datsun, just like it is in the Renault. The ride is thus comfortable as one would expect of a car in this segment, aided by the new suspension setup at both ends which helps in absorbing potholes easily. And that said, handling isn’t exactly the redi-GO’s forte, though we would love to see it with a stiffer setup that would make it a hoot to drive around town. The steering isn’t too precise and the car tends to understeer when pushed hard around corners. The tall-boy design also tends to cause body roll, which robs you of confidence too. Grip from the tyres is good though.
Pricing is something Datsun hasn’t faltered with till date, and the redi-GO isn’t any different. The car is yet to be launched officially, but Datsun has indicated that pricing will range from Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 3.5 lakh, which makes it on par with its competitors.
Despite the all-round growth of the Indian car market it is small cars that continue to sell the most in the country. Unfortunately for Datsun, this is also a segment where buyers are reluctant to experiment with a new brand and are happier sticking to tried and tested names. The Datsun redi-GO will compete against the likes of established players like the Maruti Suzuki Alto, Hyundai Eon, Tata Nano and of course its own sibling, the Renault Kwid. The little Datsun then clearly has its task cut out.
After the Go and the Go+, Datsun has surely stepped up with the redi-GO. It looks very appealing from most angles, has ride quality working in its favour and is decent enough for city commutes. On the flip side the engine isn’t very refined and quality isn’t impressive either. Most importantly, Datsun is yet to carve a niche in the minds of small car buyers, which makes the rather competent redi-GO’s job a wee bit harder.