Datsun, the low cost brand of Nissan, is making a re-entry into the Indian car market after decades. Their first product for the country is the low cost hatchback, the Go. The company claims they have invested years into making this car, which is the perfect Indian family car at a price point. The Go, to be made in the sane Nissan factory in Chennai, will be sold through existing Nissan dealers as well.
The Go competes in the Rs 3-4 lac hatchback segment and comes across as a car with fresh design ideas. It is not striking or funky in any way but yet looks smart and young in the company of cars like the Santro, WagonR and the Alto range. The Go is a substantially big hatchback too and has good road presence - for example the huge grille up front and the distinctive Datsun logo at both the ends. The car is long though not very tall and 13-inch wheels do look small as compared to the body. Datsun is playing safe and will offer only 4 color models to choose from.
On the inside, the Go is one of the more spacious cars in the segment. To start with, Datsun has done away with 2 bucket type seats up front and offered what seems more like a one piece bench arrangement. For this, the gear lever and hand brake lever had to be re-positioned - it does make sense as the Go feels really spacious up front and further, a couple can even snug in close and sit in a cosy manner! That said, features are missing - we did expect a day-night internal mirror, internal adustable outside mirrors, cup-holders, vanity mirror etc. Overall fit and finish however is on par with the rivals. At the back, things are again basic with no power windows, no rear speakers, no cup / bottle holders or even a parcel tray. The boot is massive and completely outshines the rivals in this regard.
One of the biggest USP of the Go is the engine - Datsun hasnt cut corners here and it comes with the same 1.2-litre engine as seen in the Nissan Micra and the Renault Pulse. Power is down from 76PS to 68PS (same as low cost Micra Active) though torque remains same at a very healthy 104Nm. This 3-cylinder motor has further been tweaked for better economy which now stands at a rated 20.6kmpl. There is no automatic option on offer and the 5-speed gearbox feel spot on for this engine. To cut costs, NVH levels have been sacrificed and the car does get very vocal when pushed hard.
On the ride and handling front, the Go plays very safe. Big windows add to the airy feel and also aid in visibility - its a fuss free car to drive in town and on the highway and the suspension does its job pretty well, better than most of the rivals in the segment. Steering isnt very light but on the good side, has enough feedback at high speeds. Talking of highways, push the car hard and it will easily do serious triple digit speeds, thanks to a bigger heart under the hood.
The Go packs a lot of punch. However, its a low cost car and this is evident - a single reverse light, omission of features, no safety options et al. However, Datsun has done its homework and knows the Indian consumer very well. Pricing is always the key to success and we expect the base "D" version, without air-con and power-steering to start at Rs 2.99 lac, extending to Rs 3.5 for the top of the line "T" version.