Ever noticed how some of us find unusual pleasure in pulling others down. How it all becomes easy to point and shoot when that target is a newbie, and how we comfortably choose to ignore others who belong in the same league, just because they have been around long enough for us to be used to their antics. The case is similar with Datsun and their cars in India, who have been pointed at with great fanfare for selling cars which scored a nil in the Global NCAP test. However, nobody talks much about the Maruti Swift, the Maruti Suzuki Alto 800, the Tata Nano, Ford Figo or the Hyundai i10, even when they share the same remarks on their report card as the GO hatchback. Maybe because the recent incident is fresh in most minds and it involved Datsun. But then why forget the Maruti Swift that was there too? Maybe we are scared with the idea of talking about it honestly and upsetting the gods of bad omen, as the chances that we might be driving any one of these immensely popular machines are very high.
Don’t get us wrong, we aren’t proposing that it’s okay to skimp on safety and sell cars in the market which are as safe as the tin-boxes sold in the 80’s. But to single out a manufacturer just because they are relatively new in the market and trying to offer something at a low price point, which is as good, maybe better or as bad as most other products in the category doesn’t settle down well in the belly. The blame cannot be shifted over to them altogether, as we have been the ones who’ve been picking such products in hordes, like they are some low hanging fruits. Not everything is on the downward path though. Global NCAP’s testing protocol mandates that all cars (including base variants) must carry at least airbags and ABS to get its certification and manufacturers like Toyota and Volkswagen have already equipped all the cars in their line-up with airbags as standard fitment.
Even the government seems to understand the importance of road safety and the new Motor Vehicle Act bill is testimony to that. In a couple years time, India should have its very own crash testing facility and a rule that mandates all cars, including the cheapest models, to come fitted with minimum safety features. So while we’ve been hearing a lot of negative words about Datsun products through our readers, we were genuinely delighted to hear them say at the GO+ launch that the car will be sold with an option of a driver side airbag. What’s so special about that you’d say? Well, that’s a manufacturer who has paid heed to market sentiments and reacted in a mature manner, considering the fact that when we were reviewing the GO+ a month ago, an inflating balloon wasn’t even on the options list.
So the next time you think about ‘Datsun’ and the word ‘Unsafe’ comes to your mind, look around, that Swift or an Alto you or someone in your family might be driving is just as good. Or bad.