Preview: Datsun redi-Go coming to showrooms in India in June 2016
Let us begin with paraphrasing Cristian Mardrus, the chairman at Nissan for the Indian, Middle Eastern and African regions. While talking about Datsun's new A-segment offering, he said to us that though the redi-Go shares its platform with the Renault Kwid, this is a very different looking car. It is easy to see why. One glance at the redi-Go and you will notice that it wears more complex bodywork. Compared to the simple, boxy, SUV-inspired lines of the Kwid, the redi-Go gets plenty of arcs, cuts and curves. Had Hyundai not watered down their Fluidic Design language, the redi-Go could have passed off as a new gen Eon, rather than a younger sibling in the otherwise sober looking Datsun Go family.
Though Datsun is calling it 'compact urban cross', the redi-Go doesn't come across as a mini-crossover like the Kwid. Instead it looks like a typical tallboy on the lines of the Nano, Eon or Wagon R. It is a smart looking car nevertheless, and sits on a ground clearance of 185mm. The face has hints of the Go family, especially in the detailing of the headlights. The outer shape is sharper though, which adds a youthful and lean appearance to the front end. The hexagonal grille looks a bit large for the face, but makes the bottom of the redi-Go look wider. The front bumper is quite large too, but plenty of curves and creases prevent it from looking drab.
The side profile grabs attention with a pronounced character line that originates at the bottom of the front door and rakes up sharply over the rear wheel arch to visually isolate it. It also takes attention away from the puny wheel wells that are carved out for the skinny 13-inch wheels. The window line too forms a prominent crease as it flows into the taillights, giving the redi-Go's rear a three-layered appearance. The tail lights are small, but mounted high to be easily visible. Like the Kwid, the redi-Go promises a fair bit of customisability and plenty of accessories.
The cabin is a welcome change over the rest of the Datsun Go line up. For starters, the dashboard and front seats have a conventional layout - no dash-mounted handbrake or extended passenger seat in here. The front and rear seats offer a conventional five seat configuration and come with integrated headrests. The tall roof makes for adequate headroom for a six footer but tall people need to sit in a knees-up position - under-thigh support is compromised. The rear bench is therefore suited for two average-sized adults and a small kid. The front seats, though small, are quite flat and therefore they don't feel very cramped. We'll be able to comment on the comfort aspect after a road test though.
Plastic quality isn't the best in class, but we'll reserve our opinions as this is a pre-production car. Expect similar fit and finish levels to the Kwid. There is a glove box and it is just that - big enough for a pair of driving gloves. There are few cubby holes in the dashboard for knick-knacks and a bottle-holder in the centre tunnel console. The door pads have little crevices to tuck away a cleaning cloth or a notebook at best. The doors are quite slim too and the door pads flex every time the power window motor is used. Speaking of windows, the front units are powered, while the rear ones are manually operated on the top-spec trim. The steering wheel is carried over from the Go siblings. The instrumentation looks similar too, but has a slightly different layout and doesn't get the shift-point recommendation markings on the fascia.
The redi-Go also offers a fully functional audio unit that can play CDs, supports USB and auxiliary inputs and can read MP3 files. It deserves a mention considering that the Go/Go+ don't get an audio player at all save for an AUX input. The Kwid's touchscreen system has set higher expectations though. The redi-Go's dash only supports a single-DIN form factor, limiting your upgrade options. The system is coupled with a two-speaker layout, while Datsun has given a clean provision around the parcel tray to add a set of rear component speakers. The parcel tray is made out of thick ABS plastic, making it a stronger alternative to the conventional PU-moulded trays in other hatchbacks. The boot space underneath is good enough for a medium sized suitcase. The loading lip is high and the bay is narrow, thanks to the fixed speaker trays. The rear seats, however, can be dropped flat for more space.
The redi-Go has its own share of cost cutting too, like no external unlocking for the bootlid, an exposed tow-hook mount in the front bumper, absence of fog lamps, a single reversing lamp, no central locking/unlocking, even a single hanger-string for the parcel shelf! Nothing to complain about though, considering the target price for the redi-Go is lower than the Kwid's.
As Cristian adds, "Everything that the consumer will see, is different than the Kwid. Underneath, they are quite similar." That points towards the underpinnings. The modular chassis is front-wheel-drive, driven by an 800cc 3-cylinder petrol motor through a 5-speed manual gearbox. Though no figures have been revealed officially, we are told that power and torque outputs will be close to that of Kwid, however, the redi-Go's engine and gearbox are tuned differently to suit the character of this car.
On the matter of safety, Datsun has always been under the scanner. For the redi-Go, the brand is harping about a fine-tuned braking system despite the absence of anti-lock brakes. A driver airbag will be offered, most probably only on the top-spec trim.
We had a go at the redi-Go, a small spin around the venue of the car's unveiling. The engine feels a tiny bit more refined than the Kwid at startup. This could be attributed to better noise insulation, though. The engine settles into an idling speed of around 800rpm. At idle, the pedals and the gear shifter have a fair bit of vibration, but it settles as you get past the 1,500rpm mark. The torque seems usable around the 2,200-2,800rpm zone, which is the band where you might spend most of the time in if you will drive this car as a city commuter. At this time, we wouldn't be able to comment on the car's on-road performance. But we are scheduled to test the redi-Go extensively by the time you read this issue, so keep following OVERDRIVE.in closely for a more detailed review.
The redi-Go you see here was unveiled on April 14 and Datsun intends to launch it commercially on June 1, 2016. The estimated price for the car is between Rs 2.5 to 3.5 lakh, where it will rival the likes of the Maruti Suzuki Alto, Tata Nano, Hyundai Eon and it's very own siblings, the Renault Kwid and the Datsun Go.
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