DATSUN HAS BEEN selling value for money cars in developing countries, since four years. The intention was to continue the same strategy in India, but the Go and Go+ failed miserably, thanks to Datsun’s ineffective cost-cutting measures. Realising the shortcomings, the Renault-Nissan family developed the Common Module Family (CMF) to produce the Kwid which managed to put a dent in Maruti Suzuki Alto’s sales. Datsun then utilised the same platform to develop the Redi-Go, which has been selling in the range of 3-4k units every month, taking the total number of Datsuns in India to 90,000 in three years. Now, Datsun has even bigger plans for its entry-level hatch, having plonked a 1-litre engine, derived from the Kwid, again. Would that bring more customers to the Datsun showrooms?
The 999cc engine has been doing duty in the Renault Kwid for a few months now. The same 3-cylinder unit has made its way under the tiny hood of the Redi-Go. No changes have been made to the i-Sat engine, as Datsun likes to call it. It makes 67bhp at 5500rpm and 91Nm at 4250rpm, which is sufficient for a car this size. Renault and Datsun have not mentioned the kerb weight of their respective cars, so it is difficult to gauge the power to weight ratio. We expect an addition of 20-30kg over the Redi-Go 800cc. In terms of cosmetics, there is not much to differentiate the Redi-Go 1.0L. It gets a chrome strip on the bootlid, a chrome tipped exhaust (seen on the Sport variant) and a 1.0 badge. On the inside, it gets silver inserts on the steering and AC vents and that’s it.
The 800cc variant notice ably lacked in power, especially when the car was loaded to the brim. The same cannot be said about the Redi-Go 1.0L. We drove it around the mighty gtats of Chorla and the power felt adequate. The power band lies between 2000rpm and 5000rpm, but after 4000rpm, the engine gets cranky and it is best to upshift before it does that. Also, you have to constantly downshift if the engine falls below 2000rpm as it struggles to gain momentum. This is pronounced in the second and third ratios, as they’re slightly taller. On the flipside, the hatch cruises comfortably at 100kmph in the fifth gear at a relaxed 2300rpm. Overall, the engine has obviously improved the drivability of the tiny hatch but it’s not the peppiest motor in the market, for sure. The 3-cylinder configuration is to be blamed for the lack of grunt, but Datsun is focusing more on l owe ring the costs than churning out more power. The ride and handling setup is evenly balanced and the hatch feels predictable through corners.
Obviously, there is quite a lot of body roll at speeds thanks to a raised suspension and tall stance. Sudden direction changes at speed leads to nervousness. Handling around winding sections is manageable, although you cannot compare its agility with the Kwid. It’s best to do the job cautiously to keep all the four wheels on the ground. The steering is vague and dead at the centre. It lacks feel and keeps you guessing when being pushed around corners with the exact amount of input required. But again, this is not a ‘hot hatch’ and is best enjoyed with sedate driving manners.
Should I get one?
We would have loved to see Datsun offer safety features such as dual airbags and ABS, at least as an option. But clearly, that isn’t the case. Maybe the budget hatch market hasn’t yet matured enough to understand the importance of safety aspects in a road going car. If safety is a priority, you will be better off spending a lakh more and opting for either the Ford Figo or Tata Tiago.
The Redi-Go 1.0L then is focused on offering the buyers maxim urn value for money. It comes with comfortable interiors, massive ground clearance (185mm) and now, a more powerful engine which makes it easier to drive it in the city as well as on the highways. Datsun is working on its service network and planning to double its dealership count by the end of this year. Things are seeming to fall in place for Datsun then, and we expect the sales numbers to swell as well.