Multi-brand strategy is a regular affair in oversees auto markets though in India this trend is still in its nascent stage. Only a handful numbers of manufacturers have indicated their consent to fight Indian automobile industry with more than single marquee with Nissan emerging as early adopters of this assault. By resurrecting its economy brand Datsun after years of seclusion, Nissan India has put its weight behind this multi-brand tactic that is relying heavily upon multiple-keys to crack the sales code of tough Indian market. Reason behind Nissan embracing this action plan is not as difficult as Pythagoras theorem seems to some of individuals (including us).Even after spending quite a good time in Indian Territory; Nissan vehicles hadn’t been able to perform up to expectations of its shareholders. Lack of focussed approach with crumbling dealership networkhad further put the company in spot; thereby forcing this Japanese major to revisit their Indian strategy. After months of introspection and hindsight, in 2013 Nissan echelons had announced resurrection of its budget brand Datsun in Indian market. Nissan made announcements to this effect in phased manner and then very cunningly used the 12th edition of Indian auto expo held in Feb 2014 to finally take the wraps off entire range of Datsun vehicles. Display of a range of Datsun cars in front of thousands of auto-enthusiast from all over world, Nissan had been able to break Datsun brand name ice, to some extent, with prospective Indian buyers. All vehicles of Datsun displayed at auto-expo grabbed the eyeballs and particularly Datsun’s small car named Datsun Go engulfed the visitors with its charm and enthusiasm. We also found this Datsun Go commendable though hustle-bustle of expo didn’t allow us to become intimate with gorgeous looking lass. We repented losing the opportunity but not for long as finally a month after auto expo, Nissan has launched the Datsun Go in market. We as usual were among the very firsts who sent invite to Datsun Go for exclusive interview with experts of ecardlr. Unlike others portals who may offer Datsun Go a cosy platform, we at ecardlrwillask tough and straightforward questions without letting it follow any escapism route of ducking and dodging. So be with us in welcoming our today’s guest; Datsun Go on your favourite online road test show as we are all geared up to subject this new hatchbackunder stringent parameters of reliability and validity.
Even a hard gaze at Datsun Go won’t be able to rescue one from becoming victim of its deceiving act (although positive one) as by no means Datsun Go look like a small car. Although this car has been pitted against the likes of Alto and Eon; Datsun Go feels altogether a car from higher rank. In fact it makes more sense to compare the Datsun with i10 and brio than to cramp and utterly practical Alto and Eon.
With dominant nose and subtle bulging hood, Datsun Go shows positive deviation from regular meek appearances of other small cars. Angular swept-back headlamps make blends with stunning symmetry and even pseudo fog lamp space falls in line with design theme.
Side view of Datsun has a strong shoulder line running down from tail lamps to head lamps. Some subtle character bulges also find a place in profile though the glass area seems to be on a lower side. Another irritant detail is rather elongated stretching of sheet metal at the rear three quarter profile of Datsun. This overhang is not very apparent from a distance though is easily recognizable while examining the profile of Go with attentive mind.
Rear of Datsun traces its similarity to its cousin; Micra as Go features same wind screen though tail lamp cluster is designed afresh. Bumper is large and a bit pronounced in an effort to make the car muscular; a trait not very commonly seen in small cars.
Overall design and style of Datsun Go has come as fresh breath of air as this small car is not meek and commoner in its pretensions. Although we are left with lot to be desired on front of fit and finish; still Datsun scores high on aesthetics front especially considering its starting price of Rs 3.12 lakh. Further a lot of people we assume will appreciate the look and big space feel of Datsun that is simply absent in Alto and Eon.
After alluring us with its contemporary design, Datsun Go seems to fully prepare with its living room impression. Talking about the space first as this is the most contentious trait that most small car buyers allege to suffer with. Here also Datsun Go scores tremendously well with winning hands down on its other competitors. Room and space of Datsun Go is easily comparable to segment higher cars and this spacious living room design is sure to give Datsun Goa head start over its competitors.
Not only front seat of Go are spacious even the rear has sufficient room for occupants. Legroom and knee room supply is more than even the best of the segment. Head room is in abundance as a bit tall profile help Datsun to liberate enough head room for Go. Front seat of Datsun comes with 3-seat configuration (without break in driver and co-driver seat) though its rear world utility is questionable.
Coming to another important aspect of interior that takes into account the traits of quality and equipment and unfortunately here Datsun is no better than Alto though Hyundai’s Eon has far better fit-finish and equipment level. Datsun features the dull grey colour dashboard which feels crude to touch. Equipment level is bare minimum with Go featuring only Aux-in and USB provision in addition to speedometer. Glove box is open without lid though console mounted gear lever is a clever touch.
Stalks and controls feel basic in nature though steering wheel is nice to hold and manoeuvre. Large instrument dials though featuring only speedometer is another area where Datsun has cut the price flab. Boot space is generous though not laid-out very practically as suspension towers intrude heavily into the trunk space.
Drawing upon 1.2-litre 3-cylinder motor, Datsun Go makes 68 PS of power. Further car produces a decent rotating force of 104 Nm that equips this car with decent pulling power. Tap the throttle and Datsun lunges forward with utmost ease. There is no power hiccups as all power generated and moved to wheels in gentle manner. Puttering around in town a whole day long is quite a simple task with Datsun has all the required alacrity. Further the good drivability of car comes as icing on cake as even in third gear the engine never stalls and threaten to get off with slight ignorance of clutch pedal. City responsiveness and decent power-torque figures make Go a happy city punter.
Mid-range of Go is also solid with Datsun crunching the miles on highway without any signs of restlessness. Attaining and remaining in triple-digit speed mark never seems to be on problematic side though after crossing 120 km/h mark one starts getting cues about the limit of this 3-cylinder engine. Spinning the revs after aforementioned mark is useless practice as heavy noise start to emanate from engine. Engine becomes thrashing afterwards and it is best to drive this 1.2-litre motorwithin its comfort limits.
Datsun power-train comes mated with 5-speed manual transmission that channelizes the power to front wheels. Ergonomically placing gear lever on centre console is good step though in Datsun case we find it a bit inconvenient as it is bit higher on console. One need to extra-stretch arm to reach it and quite sluggish nature of shits further accentuates this irritant feel. We find the shifts a bit hard and though official claim that this extra rigidity will iron out with time; we have our own doubts. Still considering that fact that other players in fray are also constitute theatre of absurd as far as notchy feel is concerned we feel it is par on the course.
ROCK & ROLL
In terms of suspension hardware, Datsun follows the standard with up front MacPherson strut and torsion beam at rear doing duty of suspending rather puny 13” wheels. In fact these skinny tyres look even meeker in wake of large arches that desperately try to fill the gaps. Overall ride and handling is average with Datsun constantly reminding driver about its limits. Slow speed ride is a bit firm as it allows the alterations through to cabin. Occupants can easily guess about road condition as Datsun does only a mediocre job in separating passengers from hardships. Still the good thing about Datsun is its power steering that feels absolutely light to operate. Brakes bite well though not as assuring as some other B+ segment cars.
In the same vein, handling of Datsun is also average as there is generous amount of body roll that sweeps in whenever one tries to corner the Go hard. Under sedate manner all is well but once you decide to reprise your adventurous role, Datsun won’t complement your feeling.
In totality Datsun Go is dynamically balance only to the extent one drives it with care and attention. Don’t expect any Swift-like performance and one had better to have their cool intact while driving this Datsun.
On value-for-money (VFM) aspect, Datsun strikes a clean hit scoring a mega six right over the bowler’s head. With starting price of Rs 3.12 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), Datsun is too tempting to miss. Within this meagre amount, Datsun gives you a feel of a much bigger car; something that one won’t be able to discover with the present market offerings. Not only this new kid on block looks contemporary and modern, it comes with loads of cabin space which is something this segment is longing for a long time. Engine and performance too complements the Datsun’s city credentials. Though dynamically car could have come with better credentials; still it is not going to be a deterrent for Datsun fans. The only possible demerit that Datsun has at this point of time is its rather unfamiliarity with Indian masses. Nissan has to take care of this aspect as this is only thing that could potentially obstruct the winning streak of this new offense from Japanese major. Maruti and Hyundai had better watch out for.
Style & Substance 3.5/5 Ride & Handling 3.5/5
Interiors & Ergonomics: 3.5/5 Safety & Equipment 2/5
Power-Plant & Transmission 3.5/5 Fuel Efficiency 4/5
Value for Money 4/5