Datsun has had a short journey of three years in India and since then the company has launched three products – Go, Go + and the redi-GO, the last one being aimed at urban buyers specifically. Although the company has sold more than 90,000 cars in three years, it hasn't had a segment-leading car. In short, the company is still waiting for its first blockbuster. While the redi-GO reflected an improvement over the other two cars, it did lack the crucial 1 litre engine option, which the Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 and Renault Kwid have. Finally, the company is ready to launch the redi-GO 1.0 L, which we had a chance to drive around Goa. So is the redi-GO 1.0 L good enough to take on the Renault Kwid and the segment leader Maruti Alto K10? Here's our definitive answer.
The redi-GO 1.0 L looks almost similar to the smaller redi-GO because there isn't any notable change here. What's different is the 1.0 badge on the boot lid and Daytime Running Lamps (DRLs) as standard. The 800 cc model gets the DRLs only on the upper variants but apart from this, there are no changes. The car itself is just about one year old so the design isn't old but it would have been nice to get some changes giving it a slightly higher premium appeal. That said, the redi-GO 1.0 L still looks unlike any of its competitors and looks fresh, primarily due to its tall-boy design with sharp creases.
The interiors are a carry over from the 800 cc model and are in-line with what one would expect from a car in this price-bracket. There are some changes though, the most notable being the all-black interiors, which looks good and should appeal to young buyers. The fact that the car has a spacious cabin makes sure that the black interiors do not take away anything from the airy feel of the cabin. The steering wheel also features a silver finish in the horn pad and remote keyless entry is standard in both variants of the redi-GO 1.0 L.
Space at the front and rear is impressive by segment standards and taller occupants will particularly appreciate the additional headroom. The seats at the front are spacious and occupants with larger frames too won't have a problem. The rear bench too offers good legroom and shoulder room and the incline angle of the backrest angle is good for long journeys for two adults. Three adults though might find it a bit tight in the rear due to the limited width of the car.
What needs improvement are the ergonomics as the power window switches located below the centre takes some time getting used to. The almost useless door pockets can only store some papers but don't drop in coins or small stuff in there since most people won't be able to get their hands in the pocket. That, however, doesn't mean you can't store bottles or cans as there is space for two of them and a mobile phone in the centre console.
The music system is a basic unit with access to CD, FM, AUX and USB, which should take care of needs such as playing music from your phone. There's a 12 V charging socket too for keeping your devices charged.
This is the main reason you're reading this article and also the reason for you to consider this car. The engine used in the redi-GO 1.0 L is a 999 cc unit, the same as found in the Kwid 1 litre. This 1.0 L i-SAT engine though is tuned for the redi-GO and brings the car at par with the competition in terms of power. Power is now rated at about 65 hp, while torque is up to 91 Nm, which significantly changes the behaviour of the car. In simple words, the key change is that while I would feel nervous venturing out on the highway with the 800 cc model, this one feels better. The added power allows for easier overtaking manoeuvres and the car feels more lively in the urban environment as well. The transmission is a five-speed manual unit, which offers hassle-free shifts. As long as the revs are around 2,000 rpm, the car moves around comfortably but below it, the engine needs a downshift.
Datsun has also made improvements to the sound insulation, thereby lowering the NVH (Noise, Vibration & Harshness) levels. Anyone who has driven the 800 cc version will be able to identify this improvement but the motor still cannot be termed as smooth. It feels gruff when pushing beyond 4,000 rpm but most people might use those revs only while overtaking. Fuel-efficiency as certified by ARAI, stands at 22.5 kmpl for the redi-GO 1.0 L. This puts the car almost at par with the Kwid 1 litre and a little behind the Alto K10.
Overall, the redi-GO 1.0 L is comparable with its competitors when it comes to engine performance and efficiency. It may not be the best but it's right up there to be taken seriously.
Now some of you might be wondering why am I talking about the handling of a tiny and practical hatchback. The reason is it makes a difference to your safety and handling just isn't about going fast around a corner but also about how a car reacts under panic braking. While Datsun hasn't made any changes to the suspension or chassis of the redi-GO 1.0 L, the former has been tuned in accordance with the increased weight. This increased weight has also resulted in better handling and stability. Due to the additional weight on the front axle, the front end grips better through corners and the steering feel too has improved but only marginally.The 186 mm ground clearance proves to be a boon when encountering bad roads but it also means that there's a significant amount of body roll around corners.
Generous clouds, winding roads in the North Eastern part of Goa and the probability of being late for the flight meant the little redi-GO 1.0 L had to be caned around the mountain roads. It was here that the brakes were put through a treacherous test as we were braking hard while going downhill. The braking power turned out to be adequate but the initial bite felt a little weak. This meant I had to apply more force than expected to achieve the desired braking. What was commendable though was that even after about 30 minutes of driving downhill, there was minor brake fade, although the cooling of brakes due to the heavy rain too would have helped.
The Datsun redi-GO 1.0 L is a product that performed as expected as it uses the same engine as found in the alliance partner Renault's Kwid. Compared to the 800 cc model, the 1.0 L is a significant improvement in terms of driving performance and handling. Changes such as the all-black interiors add a bit of freshness to the cabin but the company could have done a bit more to give the more powerful version some kind of visual differentiation. At this point some might say it's a similar story with the Kwid 800 cc and the Kwid 1 litre but that's where the opportunity lies. By taking a different path than Renault, Datsun had the opportunity to create a new form of distinction for itself.
Apart from that, the question that needs to be answered is that who should buy the redi-GO 1.0 L? If you're someone who has a large family or a family with larger people, the redi-GO 1.0 L is presently the best pick in this segment. Those tired of the old-standing Alto K10s and the Eons too can consider this car. If you're looking at an automatic transmission then look elsewhere for now but the redi-GO 1.0 L will soon be available with it, later part of this year I suspect.
Now if only Datsun can price it below the competition and that too by a considerable margin, the redi-GO 1.0 L could be considered by many potential customers. While we'll get to know the prices on 26th July, here's my answer to the main question. Is it better than the Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 and the Renault Kwid 1 litre?
From a practicality perspective, the redi-GO 1.0 L is better than the Kwid and Alto K10 but the point where it loses out to the Alto is handling. Overall, the redi-GO 1.0 L still doesn't beat the Alto K10 in my opinion but it is better than the Kwid in many ways and if only the company can price it well and get the automatic gearbox soon, the redi-GO could take the fight straight to the Kwid and that should be the main target for Datsun right now.