The Datsun Go+ will be the second product from the resurrected Japanese manufacturer to be built and sold in India. It shares most of its mechanicals and much of its sheet metal with the smaller GO hatchback. The new GO+ will initially be offered with the same 1.2-litre 3-cylinder petrol engine. Prices for the new Datsun GO+ are likely to start below INR 5 lakh.
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Datsun has launched a new brand campaign in India called #ISayYes. The multimedia, multiplatform campaign kicked off with a teaser video online, and is just the first of many initiatives. ... Read More
Four metres: cars that are less than or equal to 4,000 mm in length enjoy excise benefits in India. While the compact sedan class today contributes a large chunk of the market, Datsun’s take is distinctly different. So, what do we have here? Mini-MPV? Station-wagon? An XL-sized hatch?
Design & Engineering
Viewed head-on, the Datsu GO+ is identical to its smaller sibling, the GO hatchback. In fact, they’re virtually twins, with every body panel, nut, bolt and screw being the same from the nose till the rear doors. Only the last panel, including the C- and D-pillars are different.
The GO+ weighs about 45 kilos more than the GO hatch, but the rear suspension has been tuned differently to account for the obvious increase in payload. The Datsun GO+’s reason for being is simple – carry more stuff, or throw in a couple of midgets (Kids? Dogs?), in the rear. The GO+ is a little over 8 inches longer than the GO, which provides it almost 100 litre of luggage space more. That’s with the third row of jump seats folded, though.
Extra length of GO+ clearly evident in this picture, shot on the banks of the Triveni ghat at Rishikesh.
The new GO+ shares the same 3-cylinder, 1.2-lite petrol engine with the GO hatch. It’s a good engine, with admirable performance, especially for the class, and decent real-world fuel economy.
Interiors & Comfort
Inside the Datsun GO+, there is no visual differentiator at all. The GO+ is absolutely identical to the GO hatch, but is that a good thing? The GO, whose immediate competition include the Hyundai Eon and Maruti Alto K10, feels much better built in comparison to those cars. But the GO+ by virtue of being 4-metres long, might have aspirations that are a class higher. For argument’s sake, it doesn’t match the likes of the Hyundai Xcent, Maruti Dzire or Tata Zest. But then, all these cars are far more expensive than what the GO+ will be (launch on January 15, 2015).
The version you see in our photographs is kitted out with a host of accessories, including a better stereo, piano black trim on the centre console and black-and-blue seat covers. While these accessories do light up the cabin, you still can’t shake the basic antecedents of the GO+.
First two rows of seats are well-contoured and comfortable.
Datsun claims the GO+ has 347 litres of boot space. The third row seatback folds flat, but it cannot be removed. With the seat in place, luggage space is limited to a toilet kit!
Performance & Handling
These antecedents are reaffirmed when you drive off in the GO+. While the car possesses good characteristics, with tactile responses through the gear lever, steering wheel and clutch, there’s something to be desired when it comes to refinement. Datsun engineers have stripped the GO+ of any sound-deadening material, and road noise and engine noise pours into the cabin, particularly from the wheel wells. The imported Indonesian tyres are surprisingly devoid of humming, but Datsun has confirmed that the company will be switching to Apollo Tyres shortly. Let’s see how those perform.
Mechanically, the Datsun GO+ feels like a sorted package. There’s nothing to complain about in the way it drives, and my only grouse is the parking brake lever, which fouls with my left knee.
The seats are very comfortable, though they are thinly padded. The fabric on the standard seats appears durable and hard-wearing too. Ergonomically superb, Datsun claims the seats have been designed with inputs from Nissan’s luxury brand Infiniti’s engineers.
The principal difference I noticed from behind the wheel was the effect of the softer rear suspension, which means there is increased body roll. There’re no anti-roll bars at either end, but damping has been very well judged. We put four large adults in the car, stuffed the boot with as much luggage as we could, and set off at a fair clip on the sinuous roads around Rishikesh. And I have to say, the GO+ impressed me with its stability and predictable responses. The pliant suspension actually works very well on narrow and rutted roads and there’s no ‘hop’ from the rear, even over vicious speed bumps.
During our test, which was mostly over mountain roads, the new Datsun GO+ delivered a mileage of 14.6 km/l. This may not sound like much, especially since we didn’t use the air-conditioning at all, but bear in mind that the car was being driven spiritedly, and at altitude, so making allowances for these factors, I would say this mileage figure is pretty impressive.
Global NCAP’s recent drubbing of the GO’s crash-worthiness will doubtless have a negative effect on the Datsun brand. Well-meaning, but ill-founded, these claims about the GO’s crash worthiness (or lack of it) will doubtless impact the prospects of the larger GO+ too, especially since it has no airbags, nor ABS.
Third row not particularly comfortable. Note the crouched seating posture and the lap belts.
The rear seatbelts are again of the old-fashioned variety without pre-tensioners or a self-retracting spool, which means they will be used far less. So one must dock the GO+ some points here.
For once, I find myself struggling to sum up what a car is about. In simple terms, the GO+ is a good car. I can’t fault its engineering. Or the way it drives and performs. But I still feel there’s much to be done by Datsun (and parent Nissan) to better articulate what the GO+ is all about. Those two extra jump seats in the rear might not see daily use, but the extra boot volume has real utility. Datsun India’s new boss Arun Malhotra acknowledges that the GO+ is more of a 5+2 seater, and that communicating both the brand image of Datsun and the product positioning are going to be key challenges.
How do we sum up this road test of the new Datsun GO+? Is it the answer to a question no one asked? And what class of car is it, really? While I still haven’t been able to make up my mind on what to call it – mini-MPV, station-wagon or XL-hatch – I’ve got to say it’s a very practical package.
None of the other small cars on sale in India can claim the same level of space and utility that the GO + does. For the sake of argument, one may claim that Maruti’s Eeco offers more space (considering it is much taller), and costs about the same. However, what the GO+ has going for it is that it feels much more car-like to drive. It’s ride and handling are also far superior to what the Maruti Eeco can manage.
However, I can’t help but think that Datsun missed a trick by not opting to spec the GO+ with more features, and position it as a high-value alternative to the 4-metre sedan class. All the GO+ needs really are a few simple additions: better sound deadening material, all four power windows, higher quality trim, a better stereo, and rear seatbelts with auto-retracting reels. While I won’t speculate as to how much this extra kit would add to the price, I’d safely bet that the GO+ would still be price competitive to the likes of Hyundai Xcent, Honda Amaze et al.
Expect prices to be about 10-12% more than the GO hatchback, which means the GO+ range should start under Rs 3.5 lakh. There will be three variants of the GO+ too, titled D (no AC or power steering), A (AC) and T (AC, power steering, front power windows and mobile docking station), similar to the GO hatch’s variant range.