The lower hatchback segment in India is the one that generates the most sales, and has been dominated by two carmakers in recent years—Maruti and Hyundai. While other manufacturers have managed to make an impact in higher segments, no car has ever proved a serious challenge to the combination of affordability, reliability and low running costs that these two makers offer. However, Nissan thinks it has the answer with Datsun, its new brand of budget vehicles, and the Go, the first car to wear this new badge.
The first thing you need to know about the Go is its price. Datsun says it will be priced under Rs 4 lakh, but that’s for the fully-loaded variant. We hear that the base model could start at as little as Rs 3.2 lakh—and that means it will worry cars like the Maruti WagonR and the Hyundai i10. However, while it is priced like a small hatchback, it is as big as (and also cheaper than) its relative, the Nissan Micra, when it comes to size, so you are really getting a lot of car for your money.
So how exactly have they made such a big car so affordable? Datsun has used a combination of different bits from various existing Nissan models to save on costs while building this car. It has the same wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear axles) as the Micra, and the boot actually appears to be slightly bigger. However, the Go about 100 kg lighter than the Micra, which most likely means that it’s not as strongly constructed—which may not bode particularly well in an accident.
The engine is also from the Micra—a version of the 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol that has been de-tuned to produce less power but give better fuel economy—an all-important selling point for buyers of affordable hatchbacks. The car’s lighter weight should help in this regard too. In fact, keeping the running and ownership costs of this car down has been a priority for Datsun, as the company is targeting first-time buyers with it. As with most cars in this budget price bracket, there is no diesel engine option, as that would have pushed the cost too high up.
What’s really interesting is that despite its budget pricing, Datsun has made sure the Go doesn’t look ‘cheap’—something it says it will follow with all its future models. All the body panels are contoured and sculpted, unlike