Nissan is one of the most popular car companies in the world, known for offering well engineered products which rank high on quality and performance. Datsun on the other hand is owned by Nissan since a very long time and had its roots in the USA, where it was extremely popular in the 1980s (as Nissan exported vehicles to the States using the Datsun name, a mistake they regretted later which cost them $800 million ~ Rs. 5000 crores in the 1980s). The resurrection of the Datsun brand is Nissan’s way of targeting the mass market and on the onset, the idea seems bright. While most people might now know this but extensive Nissan bits will go into Datsun cars so you can expect the same good quality and reliability. The Datsun GO is the first product from the new badge (in its second coming) and we take a quick drive to judge if Nissan has got it right.
DESIGN AND STYLE ;
Datsun Go is definitely bringing a fresh new styling with it which will attract lot of attention. Take a look at it and you won’t feel that this car looks cheap or below average in any way, overall it has an aggressive styling which we have seen when the manufacturer revealed its first sketch and the interesting thing is that it is still retained even in this production version as well.The front of the GO hatch boasts a diamond shaped grille with a chrome garnish and a Datsun logo placed in the middle. The clear lens halogen headlamps also has a new styling which makes the front of the hatch look quite aggressive and interesting.
Coming to the side profile of the hatch, it is sub 4 meter in length and has few character lines and creases which gives it a premium appeal. The side door handles are a straight lift from the Nissan hatchback Micra which obviously isn’t a bad thing. The Datsun GO has 4 doors which opens wide for easy entry and exit for the passengers.Come to the rear of the GO and you will notice a big windscreen and a boot door just like any other hatch of its class. The only disappointing thing about this new hatch is its 13 inch 155/70 skinny tyres, the wheels looks tiny compared to whole external shell.
CABIN AND COMFORT ;
Get inside the Datsun GO+ and the first two rows are exactly the same as the GO. The fit and finish is good and plastic quality is decent. In the top-of-the-line variant “T”, the GO+ gets front power windows, mobile docking station connected to two speakers, electric power steering and air-con. If your smartphone is larger than 5.2-inches then the docking station cannot hold it. All the three rows have fixed headrest. In terms of features it misses out on basic things like rear wiper and maybe even rear defogger for improved rear visibility in monsoon and winters. The A variant doesn’t get the mobile docking station, or power windows or the electric power steering also.
The first row is spacious and it has a bench-like seat, for storage of excess luggage next to the driver and the co-driver. Some believe that three people can sit in the front row, but that isn’t the case, as the gear lever will make seating uncomfortable. The second row has generous headroom, but knee room is just fine for tall people. The thigh support too could have been better, but this is one of the best in its segment.The third row is strictly for kids, and even Datsun calls this as a 5+2. There is barely any head room, knee room or should room for adults. With the third row raised, the boot size is a mere 48 litres and when the seats are flipped the space is 347 litres. One can even flip the second row of seats and further increase the loading space. With the third row of seats folded our entire tenting luggage fitted with ease.
ENGINE AND GEARBOX ;
Powering the Datsun GO is the de-tuned 1.2-litre, 3-pot motor from the petrol Micra which outputs 68 PS of power at 5000 RPM (the same engine in the Micra makes 76 PS at 6000 RPM) and 104 Nm of torque at 4000 RPM. This engine is relatively smooth for a 3-cylinder mill and the light weight helps it gather good pace quickly. Mid-range is strong and the engine keeps charging, losing steam sharply in the top-end as the rev-limiter cuts in too early at just 5200 RPM. Near the rev limit, the motor is filled with vibrations, buzzing in despair but in spite of the 3-pot configuration, the motor has good NVH throughout the power band with on idle vibes being the major achilles heel. The vibrations are more when the AC is switched off as the engine RPM reduces.
In fact the tuning done on the engine of the Datsun GO is so much better than the Nissan Micra that you really don’t put the 3-cylinder motor in inferior hardware category. In spite of the modest horse power, the GO is quite fast with 0-100 km/hr coming up in 14 seconds, aided by its light weight and good power to weight ratio. Not only can you potter around town in higher gears with comfort, you can also cruise on the highways without the engine feeling uneasy. The 5-speed gearbox has decent shift quality although it feels a bit notchy but the clutch is light. The ARAI claimed mileage for the Datsun GO is 20.6 km/l which is better than the Micra even though it is equipped with the same motor. Expect real world mileage to be around 15 km/l, making the Datsun GO quite frugal.
RIDE AND HANDLING ;
Within the city, you’ll like the Go’s light steering and small turning radius. The long-travel suspension is also absorbent enough, with the considerable ground clearance coming into play on really bad stretches of road. But the small wheels do crash through larger potholes and you can also always hear the suspension. The poor sound insulation is to blame. This becomes a bigger issue at highway speeds, where road and even wind noise become constant irritants. The lack of cladding in the rear wheel wells also means you can hear everything the tyres throw up at the body.Noise apart, the Go does make for a reasonably good highway car. Straight-line stability is very impressive for the most part (strong crosswinds do disturb its composure), and the steering feels adequately weighted too. It rolls a fair bit when pushed hard through corners, but the well-sorted dynamics and safe handling allow you to punt the Go around with confidence and ease. Just keep in mind that the Go comes without anti-lock brakes and that the tyres respond to emergency stops with lots of squealing and squirming.
BRAKING AND SAFETY ;
Having set its price range in the most economical band, it is natural that you should not expect all the safety features in the Datsun GO. The vehicle does have disc brakes on the front wheel but lacks the auto braking system. Hence, experiencing wheel lock-ups especially when you brake hard is common. Though the car might tend to change its direction a bit during this procedure, it still manages to feel stable at high speeds. The suspension can make the car feel a bit bouncy on the uneven roads. As far as the overall Datsun Braking and Safety is concerned, you have seat belts for all the passengers. It can be difficult to imagine Nissan providingairbags at this pricing level. Some of the important Datsun GO features are the engine immobiliser, child locks, and the manual central locking system.
One has to admit that the Datsun GO has to face tough competition from its peers. However, it has managed to carve out a niche for itself in the Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities in India. The unavailability of the Datsun GO diesel variant can prove a disadvantage. However, the Datsun GO petrol models have the ability to hold their heads high amidst heavy competition.