It’s been three years since Datsun has been trying to establish itself in India, and amid a constant battle with the safety watchdogs, the company has managed to sell 90,000 units of its cars here and that’s quite good for a company which has just started operations in India. The redi-GO has been topping the charts with an average sale of 3000 units a month thereby showing strong growth considering its chief rival – the Renault Kwid, has had a head start. In fact, the Kwid has a powerful engine, AMT and even decent features like touchscreen navigation, all of which were missing in the redi-GO. Well, now, Datsun India has taken the first step to achieving that goal and that’s giving the redi-GO a powerful engine. So, let’s get right to it.
The Datsun redi-GO will now be available with a 1-litre engine and yes, it’s the same as the one on the Kwid delivering the same amount of power, 67 bhp and same torque 91 Nm. Datsun calls this powertrain i-SAT or Intelligent Spark Automated Technology, which it says is better on performance delivery. The engineers at Datsun say that this technology helps to automatically adjust the spark timing in response to the fuel quality and the power requirement and so power delivery is seamless, so I nodded my head in agreement then but needed to get behind the wheel of this one to know more.
Well, for starters, the power kicks in nicely and the redi-GO is at its happiest post 2500 rpm. The 91 Nm of torque takes you by surprise and the surge of torque is seamless and you enjoy every bit of it. Sadly that 5-speed manual transmission is a bit of a dampener. The slotting of gears takes some getting used to, and it’s not as seamless as you might think. The clutch is light but the effort you put into changing gears is a bit too much and that affects you in city traffic conditions. The suspension set up is on the stiffer side, so it’s offers a good ride and considering it has a ground clearance of 185 mm, you get a good view of the road too.
The redi-GO is tall and you enjoy the view, although there’s a blind spot to the drivers’ right hand side, but it rides tall so there’s good headroom and legroom both at the front and rear. The redi-GO takes all the potholes in its stride and the ride is not at all bouncy but there’s a bit of a thud and rattle every time you go through a pothole which can be unnerving. But the brakes have been worked on and there’s a good bite to them. Sadly, there’s a bit of engine noise that creeps into the cabin and we think it could have been better insulated.
There are not many changes made to the cabin and the layout remains the same. The only change is that you get a silver finish on the AC vents and the horn pad. There’s all black interior which looked good on this lovely red colour. What we’ve always loved about the redi-GO is the space that you get inside the car and there’s ample head and shoulder room as also good knee room at the rear. What it does not get is a touchscreen or even an automated manual transmission. The redi-GO gets a CD player, USB (which does not charge your phone) AUX-In and no Bluetooth. This we feel could have been an area of improvement and the feature list could have been a tad bigger than what it currently is but then again, this might make a big difference in the way Datsun prices the car.
The redi-GO 1-litre will only be available in two variants the T(O) and the S, and that’s a strategy similar to that of Renault, but finally it’ll all come down to pricing and that’s where, probably, Datsun might hold the trump card.