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Datsun's new Go review, road test
Datsun's new Go review, road test

Datsun's new Go review, road test

Nissan has resurrected its brand Datsun, which was phased out in 1981. And for India, the carmaker has positioned the brand at the budget end of the spectrum. Its first car, the made-for-India Go, has just gone on sale.

Lift the door handle, open the light door and what you get is a very roomy cabin. Among other things, you’ll immediately notice the unique 5+1 seating arrangement. The +1 here is courtesy the extended front passenger seat, the base and backrest of which stretch to the driver’s seat to form a sort of a bench. The middle section is not meant to be used as a seat (there’s no seat belt or headrest) and Datsun engineers insist it’s solely intended as a place for ladies to keep their hand bags. However, we wouldn’t be surprised if some owners use the space to seat a child. For their part, the front seats, though flat, are quite supportive, if slightly lacking in thigh support. But a bigger issue is the one-size-fits-all driving position. You can’t adjust the seat height or the high-set steering, and for shorter drivers that could prove a problem in terms of visibility. And that’s a shame, because the two-generation-old Nissan Micra (code: K11) that served as the inspiration for the Go, was known for its large glass area and excellent visibility. The ergonomic issues don’t stop there either. Even the dash-mounted gear lever is positioned a tad too high, while the space-saving, pull-type handbrake that sits beside it is a bit tricky to operate on hill starts, especially for first-time drivers. There’s only exterior adjustment for the rear-view mirrors, which is the norm for the class, but what’s annoying is that driver has a power window switch only for his window; you have to stretch across to the passenger side to operate that window. Also, there is no day-night rear view mirror on the inside. And while we are nitpicking, the digital screen for the tachometer, distance-to-empty and average fuel economy readouts is also too small to read comfortably on the go. But to give credit to the hatch, the fairly comprehensive trip computer is a segment first, as is the ‘follow me home’ light function. The dashboard is pretty functional, with lots of usable space. There’s a useful recess on the dash top and a large shelf under the steering column. The glovebox too is large, but shockingly, it comes without a lid, which effectively makes the cabin devoid of any concealed storage areas. However, as an accessory, Datsun will offer a storage box under the passenger seat for your papers. The bench seat leaves no space for cupholders, but the door pockets make up for this with large bottle holders. Sadly, there’s absolutely no storage at the rear of the cabin. Rear-seat passengers will also have to contend with a limited view forward thanks to the unusual bench seat in front. Moreover, the bench blocks the flow of air from the AC vents, and though this wasn’t an issue during our test, we are not sure if it will affect cooling during summer. The rear seat is quite flat, could’ve provided more thigh support and should have come with larger headrests. There is, however, good legroom and headroom on offer and the best bit is that it’s wide enough to seat three adults quite comfortably in the back. Where it scores, and scores big, is with its massive 265-litre boot. It’s large enough to accommodate big suitcases flat, rather than vertically as in other hatchbacks. Sadly, you can’t conceal your luggage, as there’s no standard parcel tray. Also, since the hatch doesn’t have a key lock, you have to open the car and unlock the boot from the internal boot release next to the driver’s seat every time you want access. It doesn’t take long to spot other areas where Nissan has saved costs. The boot lid lacks cladding, the seat fabric is pretty average, the rear seat belts don’t retract automatically and the front passenger gets no grab rail to hold. There’s also some parts-sharing with the Micra Active, and that’s a good thing. Bits like the door handles, air-con controls, vents and meaty stalks feel nice to operate. In fact, it is quite well screwed together and overall quality is actually good for this price. Equipment levels are decent for the class, so long as you opt for the top T version featured here. The base D spec gets black bumpers and comes without air-conditioning and power steering. The middle-spec A version adds power windows and the audio system with its mobile phone stand.
Lift the door handle, open the light door and what you get is a very roomy cabin. Among other things, you’ll immediately notice the unique 5+1 seating arrangement. The +1 here is courtesy the extended front passenger seat, the base and backrest of which stretch to the driver’s seat to form a sort of a bench. The middle section is not meant to be used as a seat (there’s no seat belt or headrest) and Datsun engineers insist it’s solely intended as a place for ladies to keep their hand bags. However, we wouldn’t be surprised if some owners use the space to seat a child. For their part, the front seats, though flat, are quite supportive, if slightly lacking in thigh support. But a bigger issue is the one-size-fits-all driving position. You can’t adjust the seat height or the high-set steering, and for shorter drivers that could prove a problem in terms of visibility. And that’s a shame, because the two-generation-old Nissan Micra (code: K11) that served as the inspiration for the Go, was known for its large glass area and excellent visibility. The ergonomic issues don’t stop there either. Even the dash-mounted gear lever is positioned a tad too high, while the space-saving, pull-type handbrake that sits beside it is a bit tricky to operate on hill starts, especially for first-time drivers. There’s only exterior adjustment for the rear-view mirrors, which is the norm for the class, but what’s annoying is that driver has a power window switch only for his window; you have to stretch across to the passenger side to operate that window. Also, there is no day-night rear view mirror on the inside. And while we are nitpicking, the digital screen for the tachometer, distance-to-empty and average fuel economy readouts is also too small to read comfortably on the go. But to give credit to the hatch, the fairly comprehensive trip computer is a segment first, as is the ‘follow me home’ light function. The dashboard is pretty functional, with lots of usable space. There’s a useful recess on the dash top and a large shelf under the steering column. The glovebox too is large, but shockingly, it comes without a lid, which effectively makes the cabin devoid of any concealed storage areas. However, as an accessory, Datsun will offer a storage box under the passenger seat for your papers. The bench seat leaves no space for cupholders, but the door pockets make up for this with large bottle holders. Sadly, there’s absolutely no storage at the rear of the cabin. Rear-seat passengers will also have to contend with a limited view forward thanks to the unusual bench seat in front. Moreover, the bench blocks the flow of air from the AC vents, and though this wasn’t an issue during our test, we are not sure if it will affect cooling during summer. The rear seat is quite flat, could’ve provided more thigh support and should have come with larger headrests. There is, however, good legroom and headroom on offer and the best bit is that it’s wide enough to seat three adults quite comfortably in the back. Where it scores, and scores big, is with its massive 265-litre boot. It’s large enough to accommodate big suitcases flat, rather than vertically as in other hatchbacks. Sadly, you can’t conceal your luggage, as there’s no standard parcel tray. Also, since the hatch doesn’t have a key lock, you have to open the car and unlock the boot from the internal boot release next to the driver’s seat every time you want access. It doesn’t take long to spot other areas where Nissan has saved costs. The boot lid lacks cladding, the seat fabric is pretty average, the rear seat belts don’t retract automatically and the front passenger gets no grab rail to hold. There’s also some parts-sharing with the Micra Active, and that’s a good thing. Bits like the door handles, air-con controls, vents and meaty stalks feel nice to operate. In fact, it is quite well screwed together and overall quality is actually good for this price. Equipment levels are decent for the class, so long as you opt for the top T version featured here. The base D spec gets black bumpers and comes without air-conditioning and power steering. The middle-spec A version adds power windows and the audio system with its mobile phone stand.

With a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol motor already doing duty in the Micra and Micra Active, its carmaker didn't have to look too far for an engine. In brief, it's an all-aluminium unit that produces 67bhp at 5,000rpm. And with just 788kg to hurl around, it does a rather impressive job of giving the Go some real go. A bit of hesitation at low revs apart, it feels very peppy at typical city speeds and responds well to light throttle inputs. You can also pull away from low engine speeds in higher gears with ease, which means fewer gearshifts. Part of the credit for this goes to the smartly chosen (if slightly tall) gear ratios. Interestingly, it doesn't use the Micra's Renault-sourced gearbox (code: JH), because it was too expensive. Instead, Nissan has dusted off an older five-speed unit (code: FY) and pressed it into service here. This is not the most modern of gearboxes and there's a noticeable whine at all times. The gearshift is slightly notchy too, but doesn't require much effort. Neither does the clutch, which is light and progressive.

Were we to judge the Datsun Go relative to similarly sized hatchbacks, it would come across as a tad underwhelming. But you need to compare the Go to similarly priced competition; that's when you'll see it as a clever proposition. A spacious cabin and a big boot are two things you'll rarely find in a budget hatchback, but it's something you get with the Go. The car's attractive styling, class-leading performance, ease of use and good fuel economy are also aspects that will interest buyers in the budget segment, the majority of whom are first-time car buyers. That's not to say the Go doesn't have its flaws. The ergonomics, for one, leave much to be desired and there's some essential kit missing. So there's clearly a lot of room for improvement. But, given the 3.69 lakh price tag for the top-spec T version, the Go is hard to beat for affordability. All Datsun needs to do now is bolster its sales and service network to unlock the true potential of its budget car.

Fact File
What it costs
Ex-showroom (Delhi) 3.12 lakh
Warranty 2 years / unlimited km
Engine
Fuel Petrol
Installation Front, transverse
Type 3 cyls, 1198cc
Bore/stroke 78.0 / 83.6mm
Compression ratio 9.8:1
Valve gear 4 valves per cylinder, DOHC
Power 67bhp at 5000rpm
Torque 10.61kgm at 4000rpm
Power to weight 85.02bhp per tonne
Torque to weight 55.92bhp per tonne
Transmission
Type front-wheel drive
Gearbox 5-speed, manual
Dimensions
Length 3785mm
Width 1635mm
Height 1485mm
Wheel base 2450mm
Boot volume 265 litres
Chassis & Body
Construction Five-door, hatchback, monocoque
Weight 788kg
Wheels 13-inch pressed steel
Tyres 155/70 R13
Spare Full size
Suspension
Front Independent, MacPherson struts, coil springs
Rear Non-independent, Torsion beam, coil springs
Steering
Type Rack and pinion
Type of power assist Electric
Turning circle 9.2m
Brakes
Front Ventilated Discs
Rear Drums
Anti-lock NA
Performance
0-20 1.21 sec
0-40 2.86 sec
0-60 5.53 sec
0-80 9.15 sec
0-100 14.54 sec
0-120 20.80 sec
0-140 34.08 sec
Economy
City 12.8kpl
Highway 17.9 kpl
Tank size 35 litres

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