Imagine you’re a 20-something, just finished your MBA and land up in a relatively cushy job that pays the bills and the expensive check-ins. Wouldn’t you want a car now? With Uber on your home screen, and rain seeping down from the helmet into your pants, it’s time for a car – a new one, because anything used is just not your cup of tea. However, you’re still young, and there’s that education loan to pay off, so finances for big investments aren’t the strongest. To put it in numbers, you’re barely nudging INR 3.5 lakh. Still, it’s time for a car.
Either there’s the evergreen, omnipresent Maruti Alto looking at you with its glassy eyes, or the Hyundai Eon trying to seduce you with its curves. There’s also a new Kwid on the block, which is by far the most enticing proposition in the segment. The latest to enter the ball room, riding tall is the new Datsun redi-Go. It’s green, looks convincing, and will get your budget-centric attention right away.
Here’s the gist – the redi-Go is the Kwid’s closest and only cousin. Both are manifestations of the versatility of the CMF-A platform, the mother virus that’ll one day, allow the Renault-Nissan Alliance to crack Maruti Suzuki’s dominance in the sub-compact hatchback space. Realistically, a 5% market share in the next couple of years is what the Alliance is aiming at. Like the Kwid, the redi-Go is heavily localized as well – 98%, and will be manufactured alongside it in Oragadam (Tamil Nadu).
Even though they’re pitted as rivals, the redi-Go’s approach is a bit different, at least visually. While the Kwid tries to blatantly act like a SUV, the Datsun comes across more of a honest tall-boy with ‘crossover capabilities’, strictly attributed to its ground clearance of 185 mm, the most in its class; even more than the Kwid’s 180 mm. Oh, and at 1541 mm tall, it’s a tall-boy all right, even taller than the Hyundai Eon, which, standing 1510 mm from the ground, was until now, the tallest in its class. Even though the redi-Go is the tallest, it’s not necessarily the widest, it manages to mask its height well.
With each of its 13-inch wheels wearing 155 section rubber pushed towards the corners, and a tall body, the redi-go manages to achieve a well-planted stance. The cab-forward volume bears deep gash-like character lines on the both sides that rise up abruptly in the middle of the rear doors and go on to meet the base of the tail lamps. They complement the other character lines that emanate from the headlamps, define the window line and fade away into the C-pillar.
Details include the obligatory, trapezoidal Datsun grille that looks it grew a pair of legs and walked out of a Go and onto the Redi-go. Around it are wraparound headlamps with chrome runners inside of them, while the sculpted front bumper incorporates LED DRLs which only glow if the headlamps are switched off. There’s also a faux skid plate that’s finished in silver on the green cars, and in black for the other coloured cars.
The wheel arch flares are significant, and at the rear, define most part of the rear bumper. The well-shaped and high-set tail lamps are stretched towards the sides and follow the rear door shut-line, while the rear bumper gets small, circular reflectors. The tail gate has a chrome strip running across its base to add a touch of panache, while a faux skid plate finds its way here as well, this time encompassing the registration plate recess. Like in the front, this is finished in silver for the green cars as well, and black for the other colors. A chrome trimmed exhaust finisher peeks out from below, while on top, the compact rear glass gives way to a subtle, albeit blunt spoiler and a ribbed roof thereafter.
The powerful headlamps provide good illumination at night.
The signature D-cut Datsun grille is underlined with a faux skid plate; front approach angle is rated at 26.8 degrees
These DRL strips automatically switch off when the headlamps are switched on.
The redi-Go rides on 13-inch steel wheels wrapped with 155/80 JK Ultima tires.
Like the Kwid, a single windscreen wiper has to suffice here as well.
The redi-Go’s ORVMs have the largest glass area in its class; offering a great view of what’s happening behind your eyes.
The chrome strip at the base of the tail gate adds a touch of class.
While the green cars get silver finished faux skid plates, other cars get the same finished in black; rear departure angle is rated at 58.6 degrees
Chromed exhaust finisher peeking out looks cute.
Inside, the redi-Go claims to be the most spacious in its class. The cab-forward volume and the class-leading height have led to be a voluminous and airy cabin. The seats are simple, fabric upholstered jobs with integrated headrests. Seating comfort isn’t the best with the flat bases and almost no bolstering (especially at the back), but is at par with the class. At the back however, the redi-Go claims best-in-class knee room of 542 mm, which, according to Datsun is even more than the Swift/Dzire. This is possible because the front seats have limited longitudinal travel, which means that a tall driver up front is a bit cramped for leg space. That apart, there’s no space crunch inside the redi-Go given its compact dimensions, unless there are three adults sitting abreast on the rear seat, which gets a bit too claustrophobic.
The dashboard is a simple, plasticky affair lined with three exposed storage compartments, which come in handy especially if you want to chuck your knick-knacks around. For the more valuable stuff, there’s a tiny glove compartment on the passenger’s side. A piano black insert on the center console is the dashboard’s only ‘premium’ call. It hosts the basic music system which just supports Aux-in and USB connectivity, and blares out feebly through four speakers. Manual AC controls, three round air vents with air flow control, one oddly shaped one in the middle with no air flow control (to direct 50% of the air flow to the rear passengers), a 12V charging socket and a couple of bottle holders on the floor console round things off. Interior storage for bottles is decent, with space for two 1-litre bottles and one 500-ml bottle, while the door pockets are strictly for storing flatter stuff that aren’t bottles.
The steering wheel looks rather nice and feels good to hold too. The instrument cluster is a basic unit with a large analogue speedometer and a digital display which encompasses the tachometer, odometer and fuel level indicator. Other tell-tale lights are strewn across the space. Top-end variants will come with a driver’s airbag, as well as front power windows, the switches of which are un-ergonomically located on the floor console. A fair bit of cost-cutting is visible inside, with the skimpy door pads exposing a lot of metal, along with an exposed C-pillar and no seat base covers on the inner side. But considering this is even lower than the Kwid in terms of market positioning, we don’t really mind. Quality, fitting and finishing isn’t the best, with a lot of rough edges, but at this price, considers yourself lucky to get behind the wheel of a complete car, and a rather stylish one at at that.
Because of the voluminous cabin, boot space, at 222 litres is decent, but not best in class. However, interior options will include a variety of audio systems, branded cushion sets and keyless entry – the standard key is, well, just a key. Further customization options will include side window blinds and curtains, bumper corner protectors and chrome door handles.
Instrumentation is basic and legible..
..and so is the music system, which just has radio, apart from aux-in and USB connectivity.
Manual AC with tactile knobs chill the cabin well.
Sound quality from the speakers is feeble and nothing to write home about.
The skimpy door pads are an example in cost cutting; door pockets have limited usage as well.
The central air vent directs 50% of the air flow to the rear passengers. There’s no flow control for this one.
Illuminated door sills to make you feel a bit posh; notice exposed wiring.
The floor mounted, quick release levers for the hatch and fuel filler cap.
The power window buttons on the floor console are an ergonomic disaster.
As many as three open storage bins in the dash, but small glove box is the only space to store valuables.
Thankfully, the footwell isn’t cramped.
Finally, an image to corroborate the class leading knee room.
The Datsun red-Go is powered by the same i-SAT, DOHC petrol engine from the Kwid, all of 3 cylinders and displacing 799 cc. The relatively uncomplicated, compact engine, developed by Renault-Nissan’s technical centre at Chennai develops 54 PS at 5,678 rpm and maximum torque is rated at 72 Nm at 4,386 rpm; similar figures to that of the Kwid. The engine, at 57 kg, is particularly lightweight too, with a plastic oil sump, along with the alternator and air conditioning pump that are attached directly to the engine block, thus doing away with extra metal brackets. The engine is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission, which, weighing in a just 25 kg, is one of the lightest around.
The redi-Go will deliver as much as 25.17 kmpl, and will share the title of the country’s most fuel efficient petrol car with the Kwid – add a 28-litre fuel tank into the mix. Crank up the redi-Go, and the three-cylinder thrum and lumpy idle is unmistakable. NVH levels have been decently contained, although a fair amount of vibrations filter the dashboard at idle. The engine note also makes its presence felt in the cabin though, but it has been subdued by a fair margin as compared to the Kwid.
Performance is relatively effervescent, considering the redi-Go weighs even less (around 25 kg) than the Kwid, which already tips the scales with a light kerb weight of 669 Kg. The redi-Go pulls with confidence in any gear, with a tractable lay of power that never feels inadequate, even though the motor, which redlines at 5,000 rpm isn’t particularly fond of revving. Datsun claims a 0-100 kph acceleration time of 15.9 seconds, the fastest in its class, along with a top speed of 140 kph. Even with the potent AC on and carrying four adults, the redi-Go doesn’t bog down in despair. Of course, under full load, it does feel a bit underpowered especially if you want to keep up with fast paced traffic, but the power on tap always feels adequate for all intents and purposes. The clutch is light and the transmission felt surprisingly slicker than the one in the Kwid, even though they’re the same units.
Steering feel, like on the Kwid, is over-assisted and vague. The lightness at low speeds and a 4.73 meter turning radius is welcome, but the speed-sensitive electronic power steering system it is devoid of any feel as speeds rise, making it difficult to connect with the vehicle if you’re an enthusiast. Apart from that, the redi-Go is swift to change directions, and doesn’t show any alarming theatrics even under hard turn-ins. Like the Kwid, it is also a friendly and predictable handler. It rides brilliantly too, iterating another Kwid’s virtue here. Potholes and irregular surfaces are absorbed with aplomb by a MacPherson setup with lower transverse links up front and a twist beam setup with coil springs at the back. In fact, the redi-Go rides so comfortably that one is hard-pressed to think that this car weighs as much as the specifications suggest. The brakes, discs up front and drums at the back offer good stopping power, and promise a class leading stopping distance of 32.3 meters from 100 kph. However, pedal bite and progression leaves a bit more to be desired.
Right then, with expected prices that’ll lay between INR 2.5-3 lakh (ex-showroom), the new Datsun redi-Go offers a lot of car for the money. It looks attractive and youthful, especially in green, has a spacious cabin and a fuel efficient, tractable petrol engine. Equipment on offer is utilitarian, and there’s visible cost cutting involved, but at a price that undercuts even the Kwid, the redi-Go is worth every penny it demands if you’re out budget car shopping. Let’s just hope the Datsun badge works in favor of the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s Indian operations this time around.