A decade ago, all you expected from an entry-level small car—like Maruti Suzuki Alto—was low sticker price and high fuel-efficiency. Because it was ‘small’, space was neither demanded nor anticipated. Since then, a lot has changed. Today, small cars offer you features from a segment above (Hyundai Eon), look like an SUV (Renault Kwid) and come with an AMT (Alto AGS). Space, however, still comes at a premium. With the redi-GO, Datsun aims to change precisely that—it has attempted to fuse a compact crossover car with an urban tall-boy design hatchback.
But, what is Datsun?
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 Datsun is targeted at the aspirational middle classes of developing nations, India was chosen as the launchpad, the first car being the Go, which couldn’t sell much. Then it launched the Go+, which too failed. The third offering is the redi-GO. Can it give Datsun the much-required headway in the Indian car market?
Datsun calls it the Yukan design (roughly translated in Japanese as brave and bold). When looked at from the sides, the redi-GO has a forward drooping styling. At the front, the large grille housing the company logo makes it look similar to the Go and Go+. However, the rear tail-light cluster makes the car stand out. There are a lot of character lines on the body. The best-in-class ground clearance of 185mm gives it a heightened stance. The top-end variant gets daytime-running lights.
It is the most spacious car in its segment. While there is class-leading headroom and legroom—more than that in the Alto, Eon and Kwid—the rear legroom is even more than that in the Swift Dzire. Datsun officials we met during the media drive claimed that even a six-foot-tall man with a turban can easily sit inside, with about an inch of headroom still there. The redi-GO is a five-seater car and has a decent boot space.
Its dashboard looks modern. There is a digital tachometer and a drive computer that shows you instantaneous and average fuel-efficiency, distance to empty, fuel remaining, and gear-shift indicator. While there is a large, open space above the lockable glovebox, the glovebox itself is too small to even keep your basic stuff safely. The door pockets, similarly, are too narrow to easily fit a regular-sized file. The top-end variant gets an audio system with radio, CD, MP3, USB, Aux-in, and front power windows, but the entry-level model doesn’t even get an AC. The power window switches are located between the front seats.
On the dashboard there are four AC vents, and the one right above the audio system—which cannot be closed, unlike the other three vents—throws air directly towards the rear seating area, making an already effective AC more functional. There is a large glass area that adds to the feeling of space, and the view from the driver’s seat is commanding.
The redi-GO shares its engine with the Kwid, but this 799cc engine has been appropriately tuned. Called the i-SAT (Intelligent Spark Automated Technology), Datsun says it automatically adjusts spark timing in response to fuel quality and power requirement. The claimed fuel-efficiency is 25.17kpl. We found the five-speed manual transmission smooth, even though there was some knocking when we shifted to a higher gear at lower speeds.
One of the best things about the car is its urban manoeuvrability. For example, it has a tight turning radius of 4.7 metres, making driving and turning around even in narrow lanes quite easy. Because the redi-GO is lighter than the Kwid, the engine performs better. It takes the car from 0-100kph in 15.98 seconds, compared to 16.87 seconds for the Kwid. The braking distance, similarly, is best-in-class. The redi-GO, from 100kph to zero takes 32.3 metres, compared with 33 metres for the Kwid.
Datsun says the redi-GO has a lot of active safety features—shortest braking distance, reinforced crash protection shell, high-strength body shell to absorb impact, a wide view of the road from the driver’s seat to minimise chances of accident. The top-end variant gets energy-absorbing steering wheel and an airbag.
The redi-GO will be priced in the range of R2.5-3.5 lakh. What differentiates it from the company’s previous products is its fresh, eye-catching styling. While it will certainly not hit the sales of market-leader Alto, which clocks around 18,000 units a month, it has the potential to attract first-time car buyers, provided Datsun is able to reach out to them. However, the biggest challenge the redi-GO faces is not from competition, but from the fact that not many, especially new car buyers, would like to experiment with the brand. Datsun is clearly Redi this time, but still has some way to GO.