Nissan is bringing back its budget Brand Datsun Go after nearly three decades. Hormazd Sorabjee has the details
Nissan Motor Company is serious about its India approach. The manufacturer recently launched a facelift of its Micra hatch and also added a low-cost option — the Micra Active — to its line-up. And now, it’s bringing back its budget brand Datsun. The brand is making a comeback nearly three decades later.
The Go will go on sale in early 2014 and to take the fight to established rivals , the company has indicated a starting price of just a little over Rs. 3 lakh.
Crucially, the Go’s dimensions and styling don’t belie its affordable sticker price. It’s built on the same wheelbase as the Micra and has enough cuts and creases to look the part of a premium hatch.
Up front, the hexagonal grille that’ll be a trademark on all the carmaker’s offerings, occupies a prominent place. The V-shaped bonnet bulges out aggressively and it is further accentuated by the equally aggressive chin, faux vents and beautifully detailed headlights.
The side profile highlights the Go’s well-balanced proportions and the raked tailgate with its fair bit of rear overhang — a hint at the large boot. The sides are well defined with nice stylistic cuts and a strong beltline running from the headlights into the doors. The triangular piece of black cladding in place of a rear quarter-glass breaks the stodgy look that comes with a fat C-pillar.
However, the styling highlight has to be the muscular haunches, which are so well defined by a prominent ridge that arcs from the tail-light into the rear doors. The tail-lamps sit on mini pontoons that pop out from the rear, and the Datsun badge is also given pride of place on a V-shaped base. The massive wheel arches though, dwarf the weedy 155/70 R13 tyres, and an upsize to 15-inch wheels is recommended. The parts that betray the Go’s budget origins are the flap-type door handles, basic mirrors with no internal adjustment and a single wiper.
On the inside, the Go has been designed rather intelligently. The large glass area and rear windows improve the feeling of spaciousness. At the rear, the raked tailgate and overhang allow for a boot with an unusually long floor. This allows for some extra baggage space, a huge bonus for a car of this size and segment. A parcel shelf does not come included but aftermarket versions should be easily available. The second row is also quite spacious and is actually wide enough for comfortable three abreast seating. The front seat is where things get really interesting. The gearlever has been moved to the dash as has the handbrake and this has freed up space between the two front seats. This space has been bridged by a cushion and backrest, making for a sort of seat. Now while the carmaker says this space is meant for keeping odds and ends, seeing as how often one spots bikes on our streets ferrying up to four people, chances are Indian buyers may end up using this as a sixth seat. We would of course advise against this as there is no seat belt here and moreover, the gearlever is right in front of this space.
The Go’s dashboard is finished in a tasteful two-tone theme with silvered buttons on the dash that look quite smart, and Datsun has even provided a mobile docking station for smartphones. There are plenty of storage spaces in the practical cabin with two big shelves under the dashboard and bottle holders in the front door pockets.
There are two issues with the cabin though. The biggest problem is that it lacks a glovebox, a near essential feature for Indian buyers. Also, the handbrake has a twist-pull operation which isn’t the most convenient, especially for first-time drivers.
Under the skin, the Go is more straightforward and is underpinned by MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam axle at the rear. However, the suspension has been designed with high ground clearance and bad roads in mind. The Go’s platform isn’t all new and Nissan has used bits from existing models to make a chassis that is light yet durable.
According to sources, the Go is around a 100kg lighter than the Micra, which will help a huge deal in terms of performance and economy. The Go will get a 1.2-litre petrol engine, essentially the Micra’s engine with slightly reduced power.
Datsun says it has focussed on making the Go a car that is easy to drive, fuel efficient and low on cost. The company is aiming to keep the cost of ownership as low as possible with the Go, which is crucial to build trust with first-time car buyers.