Automatic gearboxes are god-sent for those who drive or crawl rather, within the city, every day. No wonder then, a low-cost technology like AMT has fast become popular, for rowing a stick and pushing a pedal repeatedly makes driving a tedious and stressful affair when all the car ever does is move at a snail’s pace for 80% of the commute. Now, when it comes to automatic gearboxes, AMT is more like entry-level technology, CVTs and Torque converters take the space in between, and dual-clutch transmissions are the crème de la crème.
The Datsun Go and Go+ occupy space in a segment, where all the products are either equipped with a manual transmission or an AMT. Datsun India decided that it will be a good idea then to offer a more refined automatic experience and equipped their Go hatchback and Go+ 5+2 seater with a CVT gearbox so that both bring something fresh and unique to the table.
Since both cars were updated last year with some cosmetic changes and updates inside the cabin, the CVT-equipped variants are no different. The only changes they carry are in the form of a roof-mounted spoiler at the back and enhanced side and pedestrian protection to meet the now in effect, new safety regulations. The Go hatchback gets an all-black cabin, while the Go+ MPV gets beige padding on the dashboard as a distinguishing element. Rest, everything is as it was since we reviewed them last year. Allow us to tell you more about the new CVT gearbox then.
Paired with the CVT gearbox, the 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder, naturally-aspirated engine now cranks out 77 Hp, which is 9 more than the output for the manual variants. Kerb weight for the Go and Go+ has gone up by 40 kilos as the cars had to meet the new safety regulations. Fuel economy for the Go is claimed to be 20.01 kmpl, while the Go+ is rated at 19.41 kmpl.
Getting straight to the drive experience, since both cars are similar, the driving experience on offer is identical too. The CVT gearbox here offers a ‘Sport’ mode, which can be activated through an unmarked switch on the lever. The CVT also offers a ‘L’ mode, which allows the engine to spin at higher revs at low speeds, in effect, offering better traction and engine braking while going uphill or coming down.
Off the mark, the Go and Go+ get rolling without any need for throttle inputs, confirming the presence of a ‘Creep’ function. As long as your throttle inputs are gentle and since there are no actual gear changes happening, momentum is smooth and fluid, unlike the head nods or interruptions you would experience with an AMT. That’s only true for half of the travelling distance of the pedal though. If you mash the accelerator with enthusiasm, like most other CVTs, the engine speed goes up, without resulting in as much increase in forward movement. The feeling is similar to driving a car with worn-out clutch plates. But that’s true for most CVT systems. They’re not built to encourage enthusiastic driving. If you keep your right foot stomped, it takes a long time for the pulleys to adjust the belt in the right position and then you finally experience some GO. But you will most probably give up before that because the three-cylinder engine gets noisy and you notice that you aren’t making as much progress as suggested by the engine speed dial and the noise.
All the above is true if you are someone who enjoys hurried actions behind the wheel. But if you are a sedate driver who rarely steps out of the city and gets on the highway, you will appreciate the refinement and smoothness of a CVT system. If your right foot is gentle on the pedal, you will praise the smooth flow of movement, where even if you step off the gas, the revs drop down to near idling speeds, with minimum engine braking. Which is where the ‘L’ mode helps when you need it. What about the ‘Sport’ mode? It does help by perking up things a little, but not by a huge margin. By now, you must’ve figured then that CVTs are brilliant within the city and not so great if you would be driving on highways. But hey, the Datsun Go and Go+ are no screamers and both are honest about their identities of being entry-level urban cars which are okay with the odd weekend drive out of town.
Best Entry-level Automatic Cars Within The City?
The CVT-equipped Datsun Go and Go+ are available in their T and T(O) trim levels and have been priced at INR 5.94 Lakh and INR 6.58 Lakh respectively (ex-showroom, India). For that amount, you get a well-equipped hatchback or a 5+2 MPV, where both are equipped with a gearbox which offers a refined and stress-free driving experience within the city. If an entry-level automatic hatchback which serves all your commuting needs within town has been on your mind, do take a good look at these two.