Datsun Go Review: Rising Star
The ‘Datsun’ brand has a strong history behind it especially in the 60s and 70s. Car lovers can vouch for the same. This Japanese automobile company has produced some of the most popular cars of its times including the 510 and 240Z.
Nissan had announced Datsun’s revival plans in 2012 for many developing countries and going by the rapid development, India played an important role in it. Datsun’s operations will be supported by Nissan in India. The company has already shown GO hatchback and Go+ MPV based on the same platform at the 12th Auto Expo held in Greater Noida.
The Go hatchback promises to offer more benefits than any other car in its segment. With the Go, Datsun plans to lock horns with India’s largest car manufacturer Maruti Suzuki. Datsun is very positive about Go’s premium styling and spacious interiors and claims that it will fetch every need possible without making consumers pay extra. We travel to Hyderabad and find out more in our first drive report.
Among the budget cars, except for Hyundai, all other car makers make their cars look purely functional. Take the Alto for instance; it looks very dull and dated. Maruti assumes that just by sticking fancy vinyls, they can make their cars look modern. Hyundai does not subscribe to this and instead gets the same design lines onto its budget offerings too
Datsun had a challenge up its sleeve even before entering the Indian market. The Go had to be a fresh looking car which would also elevate the brand’s design language. It has been designed from scratch and the modern lines on it make it look appealing.
It has the most expressive face among other cars. The hexagonal radiator grille has a dark matte mesh and is also surrounded with chrome. The three dimensional headlamps, which are chunky in design, flow all the way to the side profile. It also acts as a starting point for the shoulder line which runs along the side profile.
On the front bumper, there are many interesting contours which give the Go a muscular look. It has a fog lamp housing section but then there are no fog lamps hinting at cost cutting measures. It also gets a very strong lower air-intake section on the front bumper.
The side profile has been deliberately kept clean without any redundant profile lines. Visually it looks bigger than other cars and its large dimensions also prove the same. It has a wheelbase of 2450mm and a length of 3785mm. It also gets a higher ground clearance of 170mm which is simply amazing on bad roads. The 155/70R13 tyres look a tad small but then they seem to be the best in application. The Go does not get alloy wheels and instead gets alloy-wheel resembling wheel caps which don’t look bad either.
The rear tail door too has been kept simple with bare minimum lines flowing on it. It is very clean and organised. It has a power bulge which makes it look visually interesting and also gives more space inside the cabin to carry more luggage. All seems nice till you notice the absence of a small but important feature. The tail door does not get an external lock and has to be operated only from inside which means you simply can’t dump in bags inside the boot but instead unlock the car, open the tail door from inside and then dump them. Quite an exercise.
But even then, we confidently agree that the Go comes across as an impressive looking car from the outside. It doesn’t have flamboyance but at the same time it manages to create excitement with its balanced design lines.
The cabin has some striking resemblances to that of Micra. The Go’s cabin does not feel like a cocoon and instead offers a spacious well spread cabin with ergonomically placed buttons and knobs. The entire arrangement looks very simple and functional.
In terms of features, it gets a MDS – Mobile Docking Station mounted on the front dashboard. It looks simple but has its high points considering Indian consumers are fast moving towards smartphones. There is a USB charging slot and a AUX input which can pair with a smartphone and play music, navigate or even take calls depending on the features of the Smartphone.
The driver gets a big three spoke steering wheel which offers adequate grip. The instrumental cluster has an analog speedometer and a digital tachometer. It also shows information on average fuel consumption, low fuel warning and distance to empty. To help reduce fuel consumption it also comes with a gear shift guide which aids the driver to shift gears at correct engine speeds.
The gear stick has been smartly shifted from the floor to the dashboard. It is very conveniently positioned and is in very easy reach of the driver. The change in position of the gear stick makes the seating very spacious. But on the flip side it keeps touching the knee of taller front passengers.
The cabin space inside the Go cannot be compared to any other car because of the sheer space offered. The legroom and headroom inside the cabin is fantastic. The base variants will get plain fabric upholstery while the premium variant gets Jacquard fabric upholstery which has a special pattern on it. The seats are bench type and Datsun claims that the front seats have been specially designed to keep the fatigue level low. The rear seats have a flat rear support and can do with some more cushioning. Both row seats come with integrated headrest.
It features an open glove box section which is not very useful considering the lack of a cover. Since the handbrake and the gear stick have been shifted to the console, it leaves the front area with some storage space. This can be used to store bags and mats and are at an easy disposal of the driver. The Go has the best boot space in its class at 265 Litres
During development, Datsun was very clear about the main ideologies the GO will stand by in India. The company wanted a nimble car which had to be light weight but then without compromising on safety. The GO, which weighs only 769 Kgs, is the lightest car with this type of body size and engine configuration.
It uses similar powertrain as seen on the Nissan Micra except that the one on GO has been tuned to deliver optimum fuel efficiency. The 1198cc DOHC 3 Cylinder engine produces 68 bhp at 5000 rpm and 104Nm at 4000 rpm. It comes with a 5 speed manual transmission. Just to make sure the vibrations levels are low on GO, Datsun engineers developed a counter balance system which claims to match vibrations of idling of a four cylinder engine.
The motor in GO feels noisy when started and remains so at idling too but then once the vehicle is in motion the engine gets smoother and the ride gets stable with speed. Shift the gear stick on the console and the digital tachometer goes all the way to 5000 rpm before shifting into 2nd gear.
Mid range is GO’s comfort zone and if you can manage to keep the motor floating at this rpm, the GO will be a delight to drive. The 5 speed manual transmission is not exactly a blink and shift and instead gets little sticky when shifted quickly. Marked on the speedometer is the gear shift guide which aids the driver to shift gears at proper engine speeds for optimum fuel efficiency.
It also comes with an advanced power steering system which is speed sensitive. At low speeds, it provides more assistance for lighter steering feel when manoeuvring but offers more force at high speeds to maintain its agility and control at any speed.
As mentioned before, the Datsun GO has a ground clearance of 170mm. This is fantastic when you throw it on uneven roads. Let this be your last resort because those tiny R13 tyres and low power at low engine speeds will get you into some serious inconvenience. It also gets high travel suspensions with high response linear dampers. All these collectively contribute to the GO offering a soft ride. It manages to stay very much in control.
It can reach a maximum speed of 156 Km/h which was tested by us under safe conditions. No one would wish to do a pedal to the metal sort of driving but then the GO manages to do a 0 to 100 Km/h in 13.3 seconds, which is impressive indeed. We managed to get a mileage of 12.5 kmpl during our test run. In terms of safety, the GO offers three point seat belts for both rows, child lock, engine immobilizer and manual central locking.
So the GO has a strong mid range engine which delivers good mileage. It can be manoeuvred very easily on highways and in city. It is stable even at high speeds and has some impressive braking too. Handling is decent with the R13 tyres. It does not come with an airbag which even the Eon offers.
|Engine Type||DOHC 12 Valves 3 Cylinders|
|Turning radius in M|
|Dimensions in mm|
|Fuel Tank Capacity (L)||35|
|Fuel Efficiency in KMPL||20.6|
|Distance to Empty||Yes|
|Low Fuel Warning||Yes|
|Mobile Docking Station||Yes|
|Gear Shift Guide||Yes|
|Air Conditioner with heater and Filter||Yes|
|Power Steering - Speed Sensitive||Yes|
|Central Locking Manual||Yes|
|Clear Tail Lamp||Yes|
|High Mounted Stop Lamp||Yes|
|Bottle Holders in Front Seats||Yes|
|Interior Room Lamp||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Engine Type||DOHC 12 Valves 3 Cylinders||Aluminium Light Weight K108||eRLX 1.1L|
|Turning radius in M||4.6||4.6||4.4|
|Dimensions in mm|
|Fuel Tank Capacity (L)||35||35||35|
|Fuel Efficiency in KMPL||20.6||20.92||17.68|
Should you write a cheque in favour of Datsun GO? You might want to read this. Among some of the low scoring points in the GO, the external tail door lock has been ditched which makes it very inconvenient to operate. There is no wiper on the tail door. Inside the cabin, the ORVM adjustment is missing and also the central mirror has no anti-glare setting.
Glove box does not get a lid for now. No array of power window buttons on the driver door trim. The most annoying bit for me has to be the vintage hand break lever. Get your muscles in place to pull this lever and disengaging it can cause serious injury on the knee as it descends abruptly if not held properly.
But then on the high side, you get a fresh looking car with an attractive design, spacious and functional interiors and an efficient engine. Datsun will be supported by Nissan in India and thus brand reliability is not a problem. One quick look on their official website and the exhaustive list of official dealers appears.
Datsun has already started manufacturing the GO at its Oragadam plant in Chennai. This is the first plant in the world to begin production of Datsun cars as post this Datsun also has plans of starting local production in Russia and Indonesia. Official sales should commence soon in the month of March.
The most important factor for the Datsun GO to be successful in India has to be its lucrative pricing. The GO will be priced below Rs.4 Lakhs. It is being positioned as a premium car in the entry hatch segment. Datsun will have Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai as potential rivals. The GO is indeed an impressive product but then to make it equally challenging as other offerings, Datsun needs to make sure it offers congruent after sales experience. If all these concerns are tackled in an organized manner, then the GO will be aptly the new ‘Rising Star’.