Just two years after the brand made its debut in the Indian market, Datsun is expanding its product portfolio by introducing an all-new compact hatchback – redi-GO aimed at young, first-time buyers.
Positioned as an Urban-Cross, the Datsun redi-GO features best-in-class ground clearance (185mm) and high driving position – qualities generally attributed to a crossover, blended with zippy driving characteristics and fuel efficiency of a compact hatchback.
Work on Datsun’s third car for India started late in 2010, when Datsun Chief Engineer Nobuyuki Kawai established a project team at the Alliance R&D centre in Chennai. Datsun’s philosophy was to develop and build locally to control the cost of production. So while the Datsun design team finalised the styling back at the Global Design Center in Japan, the Chennai-based team of engineers developed the car and supervised parts’ sourcing by working closely with the local suppliers and manufacturers. That has ensured that 98 percent of the parts in redi-GO are locally sourced.
The Datsun redi-GO is slated for June 2016 market launch in India and will compete with segment leader Maruti Suzuki Alto 800 and other popular rivals like Hyundai Eon and Renault Kwid. But does the Datsun redi-GO have enough weapons in its arsenal to outclass its competitors? Last week we got behind the wheel of the redi-GO to find out the answer. Read on to find out how it fared.
Design & Engineering
In a sea of look-a-like and ordinary looking hatchbacks, the Datsun redi-GO's contemporary and stylish design feels like a breath of fresh air and helps it stand out from the crowd.
With attractive and dynamic styling, the Datsun redi-GO boasts striking character lines along the bodywork. The distinctive 'D-cut' grille with the Datsun logo sitting at the centre of the honeycomb grille, stylish headlamps and rear lamps are combined to create a sense of dynamism. The designers have given the vehicle a flowing style, creating the perception that it is in motion even when it is stationary.
The Datsun redi-GO is based on the versatile Common Module Family (CMF-A) platform from the Renault-Nissan Alliance that also underpins the Renault Kwid. Standing 1541 mm above the ground, the tall body structure enabled engineers to deliver a spacious interior and high driving position which is commendable for a car in this class. Enhanced visibility and high eye point help driver to be aware of the road situation and feel confident behind the wheel.
Twin character lines give the redi-GO a distinctive profile. The top character line starts near the grille and skirts the base of the headlamps before rising to form the car’s low-to-high waistline. The second character line runs horizontally three quarters of the way down the front door, it rises midway through the rear door to form a deep slash of the bulging rear fenders as it meets the bottom of the taillights. The Datsun redi-GO is a looker and is sure to turn many heads on the road.
Interiors & Comfort
Step inside the Datsun redi-GO and you will be greeted with a spacious interior. The Datsun redi-GO is one of the shortest cars in its class measuring 3429 mm from bumper to bumper, yet its 2348 mm wheelbase and 1541 mm height has enabled the designers to deliver a spacious passenger cabin with good head and leg room for both front and rear passengers. The increased height of the redi-GO also facilitates easy ingress and egress for passengers.
The beige coloured interior features piano black finish on the centre console and silver accents around the HVAC vents, steering wheel and front power-window buttons, which adds a touch of class in an otherwise ordinary interior expected in this price segment.
The touch and feel of the plastic material doesn’t impress at all and the build quality is poor. There are several exposed metal parts inside the cabin which hint at cost cutting and could be a deal breaker for some. However, the senior management at Datsun has assured us that several accessories will be able as cost options including ones to cover the exposed metal parts.
The top trim that we drove came equipped with a factory-fitted music system which has a radio, MP3, USB and AUX but doesn’t benefit from Bluetooth connectivity. The air-conditioning was satisfactory and quickly cooled the cabin on a sultry afternoon.
The Datsun redi-GO boasts of a 222-litre of boot space which although not class leading, however, will comfortably accommodate two duffle bags for your weekend getaway.
Performance & Handling
The Datsun redi-GO is powered by 0.8-litre three-cylinder petrol engine paired with a five-speed manual transmission. This is the same petrol powertrain that does duty on the Renault Kwid and produces 54 PS of maximum power at 5678 rpm and churns out 72 Nm of peak torque at 4386 rpm.
The compact dimensions of the Datsun redi-GO makes it a joy to drive in urban city traffic. The steering feels light and result is effortless maneuverability. Parking in tight spots feels like a walk in the park. The engine is responsive but starts whining loudly if you push it to its limits. The Datsun redi-GO can sprint from 0 to 100 kmph in 15.9 seconds and achieve a top speed of 140 kmph.
Independent front suspension uses a double pivot arm layout, mounted on a mini-sub frame to help isolate road shocks while the semi-independent rear suspension features an H-shaped torsion beam back axle results in cornering stability together with delivering a decent ride quality.
The all-new Datsun redi-GO boasts of an ARAI-ratified fuel efficiency of 25.17 kmpl. Although we didn’t get an opportunity to perform a real world mileage test, however, going by past experience, 0.8-litre petrol motor should prove to be frugal and return at least 14 kmpl within the city.
The safety measures in the all-new Datsun redi-GO are bare basic. The top variant that we tested benefits from a driver’s side airbag. However, other standard safety features like central locking, ABS, fog lamps and rear wash and wiper aren’t available even in the top trim.
The resurrected Datsun brand forayed into India in 2014 with the GO hatchback and followed it with the launch of the GO+ MPV a year later. Neither of these cars has really been a success with brand reliability being a major issue among the Indian milieu. So, in many ways, the redi-GO is an important product for Datsun which is expected to change the fortune of the brand in India.
It is no secret that the purchasing decision of a vehicle is often dominated by its appearance and if there is one department where the Datsun redi-GO will outclass it rivals hands down is with its fresh, contemporary and stylish design. It is easily the best looking car in its segment and will make an impression.
The Datsun redi-GO is powered by a responsive and fuel efficient engine which delivers a peppy drive and decent ride quality. So, no complain on that front either. However, the interior is a tad bit disappointing, but one really can’t expect too many creature comforts in a car belonging to this price segment.
And talking of pricing, we all know how important that is to determine the success of any car in India and especially a car belonging to the A1 segment. Datsun has announced that the price of the redi-GO will be between Rs 2.5 lakh and Rs 3.5 lakh which is almost at par with the rest of the competition with segment leader Maruti Suzuki Alto 800 being priced from Rs 2.49 lakh onwards.
The biggest challenge that Datsun as brand faces in India is lack of popularity and reliability. Today, companies like Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai are household names. Over several years, they have been able to successfully build a relationship of trust and reliability with the Indian customer which is difficult to dent. So, it is not going to be easy for Datsun to outdo its more popular rivals.
Maruti Suzuki Alto 800, Hyundai Eon, Renault Kwid