But wait. What is Datsun Is it a new company Not quite. Datsun, whose original production run began in 1931, is a brand owned by Nissan. Until 1986, only vehicles exported outside Japan by Nissan were identified as Datsun. In 1986, Nissan phased out the brand. In 2013, Nissan revived it. Because it is targeted at the aspirational middle classes of developing nations, India was chosen as the launchpad for the brand. And the first car is the Go.
The styling of the Go isnt exciting, but it looks more upmarket and is definitely larger than its immediate competition, the Maruti Alto K10. But dont expect Hyundai Eon-like fine lines. The front is dominated by a large hexagonal grille and the angular headlamps rake back across the V-shaped bonnet. Design lines from the front bumper extend into the doors and continue towards the rear section of the car. The Go gets 13-inch wheels, which look tiny compared to the size of the car. The exterior build quality also reflects the cost-cutting measures Datsun has carried out in the Go.
Step inside and you will find that the Go ticks almost all the right boxes as far as cabin is concerned. Yes, the cabin resembles that of the Nissan Micra and that is a good thingair-conditioning vents and door handles are straight lifts. The instrument panel is a single dial speedometer, and in the top-end version we drove, there is a digital tachometer too. Datsun has chosen not to give the car an audio system but only door-mounted speakers. How does that work There is a mobile phone mount with USB and auxiliary port. Just connect your phone and play either the music stored in your phone or the radio via your phone.
But there are some strange bits, too. For instance, the twist-and-pull handbrake that is mounted on the dashboard looks antique. Then, the glovebox comes without a lockable cover. And because there is a small bench and backrest that connects the front two seats, the whole seating area looks like one large benchlast seen in the Hindustan Ambassador of the 1990s. Datsun says that because one can easily slide from one seat to another, the large bench is useful in tight parking conditionsone can choose to exit from, say, the left door of the car in case right door cannot be opened or vice-versa. But such an arrangement has two flaws. One, the connecting backrest stops smooth airflow to the rear seating area. Two, some families may be temped to put a child on that connecting bench, and because it is barely inches from the gearlever, that can be a very dangerous place for anyone to sit in. You also see a lot of cost-cutting measures inside the cabinthere is no passenger side power window operation on the drivers side even in the top-end model; there is no internal adjustment for the ORVMs; and rear seatbelts dont use an inertia reel but are fixed ones and have to adjusted by every user.
In a small car, space is the ultimate value. And there is loads of it in the Go. The cabin is fairly large and even the boot space, at 265 litres, is class-leading.
The Go gets the Micras three-cylinder, 1.2-litre petrol engine, which has been detuned to generate a maximum power of 68 PS (lesser than Micras). Still, it doesnt feel powerless. The Go goes from 0-100 kmph in just 13.3 seconds, which is a good figure for an entry-level small car. The gearshifts, too, are smooth, as is the clutch operation. The engine, though, is a bit noisy. ARAI-rated fuel efficiency is 20.6 kmpl.
Last month it was reported that some of the most popular small cars sold in India failed crash tests done by Global NCAP, an independent charity based in the UK. Measures such as introducing airbags, anti-lock braking system and collapsible steering columns can make cars safer. The Go, unfortunately, gets none of these, not even in the top-end version, not even as an option. However, Datsun officials we met during our drive experience in Hyderabad said that the company may offer these in the future.
The Datsun Go is 3785-mm long and 1635-mm wide (Alto K10 is 3620-mm by 1475-mm; Eon is 3495-mm by 1550-mm) and is the largest entry-level small car in India. Its build quality may not be the best in class, but what it offers is superior space, comfortable city ride and a relatively powerful engine. If Datsun finally manages to price the car between Rs 3-4 lakh, the Go will prove to be a huge amount of car for not too much money.