If you’ve been waiting for it, yes, your prayers have been answered – the Datsun redi-Go has received a little more pep in its step. The new variant – the 1.0 i-SAT – is the most powerful redi-Go model that will be available in India. It’s the same 999cc, three-cylinder petrol unit that does duty in the Renault Kwid 1.0, with power and torque figures remaining the same. The resulting power and torque upgrade from 53bhp and 72Nm to 67bhp and 91Nm results in the car feeling a lot livelier. In case you were wondering, i-SAT, in plain English translates to a more frugal method of sparkplug functioning.
If you’re new to the auto segment, you may not have guessed as much by now, but with the whole badge engineering between Renault and Nissan (who own Datsun), this mechanical heart transplant (almost a year after the Kwid 1.0 was launched) doesn’t come as a real shocker. Just because we’ve seen it happened in the past. The new variant carries the same exterior and interior features as the 800cc car, with the increased-capacity engine being the highlight. What visually separates the 1.0-litre redi-Go from the 800cc car is a little 1.0 badge at the rear to indicate its larger engine capacity. What’s a bit odd is, in terms of this particular model, the company has the redi-Go (800cc), redi-Go Sport (also 800cc) and this new redi-Go 1.0. So that makes the new car more powerful, which would make it sportier than the Sport.
If you’re looking to read about a proper entry-level ‘driver’s car’, look elsewhere now. Turning the wheel feels like you’re playing with putty and before you turn in, there’s even some dead centre play. There’s a good amount of body roll, even in soft corners. Like the old 800cc redi-Go, this new variant still feels like it’s built to a cost with its hard plastic panels, power windows only at the front, and a music system sans Bluetooth (standard on the more kitted S trim). The all-black interior does look better than the dull grey interior of the 800cc model. This top-spec trim variant we’re driving comes with some of the accessories that are available for the older car as standard fitment – like the DRLs and shiny exhaust tip on the outside, while the cabin gets some silver inserts on the dash and wheel.
Not to forget the faux leather upholstery which, to some, will feel more upmarket. Something that you may find a bit of a bother is the minimal sound insulation in the cabin. You’ll find that there’s quite a bit of noise entering through the rear of the car, so much so that you feel there’s a window or the boot left open when it actually isn’t. The combination of heavy rain, road-noise filtering through the back and the engine spinning past 3000rpm, can be quite loud. The cabin feels roomy with a good view of the road from the hot seat. Just that we found the single wiper to be a little oddly placed because it sweeps water off the screen but directly into your line of sight.
The cabin has all sorts of storage spaces for quite a few items, but the concealed glovebox is really tiny with just enough space for the car’s documents and a couple of mobile phones. Maybe. Navigating through the narrow lanes of old Goa, the redi-Go 1.0 managed quite well to wriggle through tight spots in traffic without a hassle. Out on the highway, however, it really isn’t keen on building up speed in a jiffy. You won’t feel the need to really race the engine to the 5000rpm redline. There’s a decent amount of torque spread all across the powerband. We saw the needle on the analogue speedo touch 100kph while the digital tacho indicated 3500rpm, in fifth. What you’ll really appreciate in the new variant is the fact that it pulls off the line much cleaner and is able to tackle inclines a lot better than before.
The car we tested hadn’t been run in properly, so shifts on the manual fivespeeder felt a bit sticky and the brake pedal felt oddly stiff. But we expect these features to get better with time and use. The suspension, also carried over from the 800cc model, is set up to absorb bumps quite well. It’s best at speeds below 40kph, but hit a sharp undulation after crossing that speed and you’ll have loud thuds resonating through the cabin. When the car is launched, there will be two trim levels of the redi-Go 1.0 on offer – T(O) and a slightly more expensive S – with the only differentiating factors being a driver’s side airbag and daytime-running lights. Come July 26 this year, we’ll have a clear understanding of where exactly the redi-Go 1.0-litre will fit in in the entry level hatchback segment. It will face competition from the likes of the Maruti Alto K10, Hyundai Eon 1.0 and you guessed it, the Kwid 1.0.