In last few years, preferences of Indian car buyers have changed dramatically. Since a big chunk of audience is first time car buyer who is looking for a practical urban car that can be used day in day out as well as a companion for weekend gateaways, and obviously a pocket-friendly option that neither has high running cost nor maintenance’s, demand for compact cars which are offering more than conventional package has risen multi folds. Buyers of this segment don’t talk much about performance like an enthusiast would do but, as I mentioned above, give the weight-age to practicality while finalizing the deal. To be honest, until a little ago no any entry-level car was able to meet these aspirations. But with arrival of Eon in early this decade things changed a bit. Not much but only a bit. 4 years down the road Renault KWID is winning everyone’s heart as Dhoni did when he hit the ground as a new-generation Batsman, in fact an all-rounder. Now, to make things even more exciting, Datsun redi-GO is coming to showrooms next month. So shall we expect it to be Virat Kohli of entry-level segment which may be junior to Dhoni (KWID) but can be expected to showcase more potential than him in the long run? Let’s find out!
Design; How does it feel?
It’s smart. Period! This is something that has so much visual substance to keep your eyes busy when you’re waiting for a traffic signal to turn green or glaring at cars when stuck in traffic jam. Datsun’s marketing term for its design philosophy is YUKAN. I found that it means brave. Personally, I don’t feel it’s brave but more of a cheerful, young and charming personality. It’s cute, small, well-proportioned and hence appealing. In person, the redi-GO appears only a little bigger than Nano and that’s something good as well as bad at the same time. Good when you see how well company’s designers and engineers have packed everything, your priority is a city car, and you appreciate cars which are easy to drive. Bad when you want your car to look bigger than it actually is or probably when you compare the redi-GO with its brother from another mother. It is to be noted that redi-GO is only marginally longer than Alto 800 and over 200 mm shorter than the KWID. But the Datsun redi-GO is the tallest car in its segment and when that’s combined with its proportionate design it has a personality of its own. That’s the beauty of this car. It’s a tall body design which has a balance of curves and creases to attract eyeballs. Sculpted bonnet and bumpers, sharp crease at bottom of side profile which rises up from the middle of rear door and merges into the base of those wedge-shaped tail lamps giving it quite an striking look. Adding more acuteness to its design are elements like slanted rear windscreen and protruding yet edgy shape of boot lid. So far, everything appears good. Then there are two LED strips at the place of fog lamps. Datsun calls them Daytime Running Lamps. These LEDs give the redi-GO a classy touch but apart from that I haven’t found any use of them. Illumination was so low that they were appearing purposeless under daylight. Also, they turn off the moment you turn on head lamps. It’s a welcome feature but better illumination would have made them more reasonable. To summarize the Design and Feel part, I’d say the redi-GO is a fresh breeze and unlike any other model in its segment. It’s tall personality that in combination with the well crafted design would definitely help it to grab attention of prospective buyers in the market.
Engine & Handling; How it performs on duty?
When it comes to mechanics, this car is no exception. In fact, we are very familiar to what it offers. The redi-GO is built upon CMF-A platform that underpins the KWID, and is powered by the same 800 cc engine that propels the one with French emblem. Datsun calls this engine i-SAT but in simple words it’s the same unit that powers the KWID. And hence it doesn’t feel much different. It produces the same amount of power as KWID – 54 PS and 72 Nm of torque and delivers an ARAI certified mileage of 25.17 kmpl, which again is similar to KWID and is impressive too. Also, it has the same grungy ignition sound. It’s a whole new modern setup anyway.
In our short drive of a little over 100 kms held in two days, I found this unit, if not punchy, quite impressive. In search of pulled rickshaws, tram and peaceful location to shoot videos, we traversed Kolkata across its length and breadth. On day 1, we drove around Eco Park and some nearby locations where we got the chance to put the redi-GO to its paces. On day 2 we headed out to capture some images with the charm of the city that made us experience the redi-GO in between of road traffic of a typical old city. In both worlds, it did perform quite well. At 2,000 rpm in top, 5th, gear the car was cruising at close to 80 kmph. Neither much vibration nor road noise was there and it was churning miles in a perfect stable manner. A light steering feel, well controlled dynamics and no instability. I pushed throttle a bit and the car started approaching 100 kmph. This time, digital tachometer was showing that the engine revving at close to 3,000 rpm. It took a bit to climb up to 100 kmph but it wasn’t out of sight. However, after 100 kmph it began running out of breath.
A top speed of around 130 kmph seems possible though. I realized that I am in a different world soon after finding yellow ambassadors’ honking behind. I was failing to maintain the pace with them and steering away from local buses, which brought back memories of Delhi’s infamous Blue line service, was not less than a chaotic challenge. We were in the heart of the city now. This stretch highlighted easily-maneuverable characteristic and surprisingly light steering wheel, that at idle speeds can be turned with fingers without any effort, of this car. This car may have the lightest steering in its segment. However, at high speeds it din’t weigh up as it should have but was direct and felt connected to the road. That’s something impressive. We didn’t find it as vague as some of its competitors.
Gear shifts are smooth and throw is of medium length. Clutch is light. After driving for some 2 hours in city traffic I din’t feel stress at all. But engine knocking when releasing clutch at idle rpm is something Datsun should take a call on. It’s neither frequent nor a problem but whenever happens gives an impression that the car is under-powered. Second, to put car in reverse gear you need to lift the switch up the neck and push knob above 1st. It worked perfect but a few times after coming down in neutral and initiating for 1st, it slotted in reverse again. That was something I was a little bothered with.
Anyway, as a whole the redi-GO felt quite peppy and has everything it needs to be an ideal urban car. Drive it at below 100 kmph and there’d be no day you complain about its performance or mileage. Although I don’t know how is it calibrated to assess mileage but after a some 30 minutes drive at near 80 kmph, average fuel consumption on my display was 29.9 kmpl!
Interior & features; does it feel special inside?
Step inside the cabin and the first thing that you’d notice is brightness. Almost every element is crafted in a light beige and greyish tone. Only elements that add a bit of contrast are piano black finish on center console and dark door handles. Look forward and you’ll be impressed with road visibility from driving seat. Datsun claims that the redi-GO offers best-in-class viewing angle from driving seat. Front seats height is quite good that aids under thigh support as well. I am about 5’10” and was sitting comfortably with sufficient amount of legroom and headroom to stretch even more. Backrest is wide enough too but side support could have been better.Pillars are slim, windscreens are wide and hence you get a wide view of surroundings. Front blind spots are small that helps it get more marks against its competitors during urban-aspects comparison. Dashboard layout is simple and ergonomic and has flat yet wide top. It’s sufficient enough to accommodate even a full-size document file. Three open storage spaces are given on dashboard, one beside steering wheel, below center console and above glove box. Talking about glove box first, it’s a downright disappointment. Its storage capacity is good only for things of size of a envelope. Datsun basically has divided glove box in two parts and has left the top half open. Size of floor console is quite impressive that hosts front power windows switches and one glass and one bottle holder, big enough for 1 liter bottle. A small tray is also given beneath handbrake. Dashboard features 4 air cons of which one at the center is in triangular shape and called dedicated rear air-flow. It’s not adjustable and throws 50 per cent of the air flow to rear cabin. AC performance of the vehicle is really impressive. Below the vents you get a single-din audio system that no doubt looks very basic and even is. It however offers both Aux-in and USB connectivity and comes with 2 front speakers, bolted in doors. Door panels doesn’t exhibit that heavy built feel you’d experience sitting inside Eon or KWID. They are thin and basic in design. Then, exposed metal sheet behind and below door pockets add more to its noncompetitive-ness. Datsun has used trim for A-pillar but B- and C-pillars along with ORVM quarter are left exposed that forthwith make one shout, “hey, cost cutting is evident in this car”. Come on Datsun, even Nano comes with proper trims for all three pillars. However, door trims will be available as part of accessory.A few more disappointments are there. Like none of the doors have bottle holder. Second, parcel tray can’t be removed, unless you unbolt its whole setup. Over and above all, the car doesn’t come with central locking. So if your family members don’t bother about security while leaving the car, you’d have to lock each door manually.
Moving ahead, rear seats of the redi-GO are quite comfy. Like front, they offer plenty of under thigh support and have long enough headrest. Leg space is sufficient even for a tall passenger and as per Datsun’s claim it’s the best-in-class. Backrest is flip foldable on the top-end variant. The redi-GO offers boot space of 222 liters which is better than both Alto and Eon. It’s deep and is sufficient for two medium size bags.
Neglect all visual annoyance and you’ll find interior of the redi-GO quite impressive. What matters more is driving comfort and spaciousness inside, and the redi-GO excels in both aspects.
Suspension & Braking; does it soak all bumps?
With ground clearance of 185 mm and shortest overhangs at disposal, the redi-GO is the best-in-class when it comes to tackle Indian roads. We took the car over high speed bumps constructed in redi-GO Experience Zone and came impressed. However, this riding-high character has also resulted in a bit of body roll that is very well controlled but nevertheless becomes prominent, especially at high speeds. Since suspension of the redi-GO is tuned on stiff side you feel road undulations and ride quality a bit bumpy at slow speeds but as you move faster all those irregularities are managed. Straight line stability is fantastic and as I mentioned above the only place where driver can lose a bit of confidence are corners. Coming to the braking part, Datsun claims the redi-GO has shortest braking distance in its class. Okay, but initial bite was not that confidence-inspiring and progression was gradual. Even while driving through normal stop-go traffic, I felt need of adding effort on the pedal constantly. Though, it could be because of the redi-GO we drove had covered hardly 100 kilometers and brake were not properly bedded in.
The Datsun redi-GO, undoubtedly, is a competitive product that like the KWID is bringing a fresh breeze in the market. It has a personality of its own, it’s compact, stylish, spacious, drives well and is capable of negotiating with Indian roads. Apart from minor let-downs like interior trims and DRLs, it seems impressive in whole. Add more to its appeal is the fact that in terms of price it will undercut all its competitors Alto 800, KWID, & Eon. The only thing I am concerned about is availability of after-sales service in tier-2 and tier-3 cities. I think this car has potential to make brand Datsun known in India.
The Datsun redi-GO reaching your nearest Nissan outlet in June first week with an starting price tag of around Rs 2.5 lakh. The range-topping variant, which you’re seeing in the images will cost about 3.5 lakh. It offers driver-side airbag as well. Booking ledger for the model is already open, at Rs 5,000.