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Test driving the Datsun redi-GO: How 'redi' are you?

#IsayYes is the tagline for the new Datsun redi-GO. So does Datsun have a product that has our attention?

Kolkata is an unusual destination for a first drive of a car. For several decades, just six per cent of the city was road space. It is one of the most densely populated cities in the country and also an extremely price conscious market where affordability and convenience rule the consumer’s mind over all other aspects of purchasing. Perfect testing ground then for a vehicle that is compact, convenient and offers the promise of good value-for-money. That brings us to the latest product from the house of Datsun – the redi-GO.

The redi-GO is based on the same platform as the Renault Kwid, courtesy the advantages of platform-sharing that the Nissan-Renault Alliance allows. As a result, on several counts what the redi-GO promises is not much different from its French cousin. Datsun has already announced that the pricing is going to be an attractive Rs 2.5 to Rs 3.5 lakh – a competitive price point.

The ORVM cannot be adjusted from the inside

Visually, the redi-GO is smarter than the rest of the Datsun range of products. It looks contemporary (even flashy at certain angles), courtesy the Japanese company’s ‘Yukan’ design philosophy. For a car that measures less than 3.5 metres long and just over 1.5 metres wide, the redi-GO's outsized grille endows it with decent road presence.

The spartan dashboard now features a music system unlike in other DatsunsThe spartan dashboard now features a music system unlike in other Datsuns

One of the major criticisms of the previous Datsun products revolved around the cars’ cabin quality. They were built to a cost and did not even try to disguise that trait. Datsun has rectified these shortcomings to some extent and consequently the redi-GO's cabin quality is a notch above that of other products from the Datsun stable. Unlike the Datsun Go that had to make do with a gadget that only allowed one to stream music via the phone, the redi-GO gets a full blown radio/CD player. The sleek 1-DIN unit is not something that we are accustomed to seeing on modern cars anymore but it does add a classic charm.

The tail lamp design is contemporary and sharp
The tail lamp design is contemporary and sharp

The other things that stand out on the dashboard are the three round AC vents in a world where we have become habituated to seeing four. Not that one less vent affects the performance of the air-con, because even in the sweltering wetness that defines Kolkata summers, the cabin cooled down quite well. On the question of storage space, you could see there are certain cubby holes like the large bottle holder and the cupholder next to the twin buttons for the power windows are nice. The glovebox, on the other hand, isn’t large enough to hold anything of significance really. However you can’t help but appreciate are the little thumb recesses on the steering wheel.

Instrumentation is basic but does the job. Pics/Aditya DhiwarInstrumentation is basic but does the job. Pics/Aditya Dhiwar

While you can seat two adults and a child comfortably, three adults in the rear of the redi-GO is an undoubted squeeze. In fact, its own information material show two adults at the rear and not three. The 222-litre boot however is deep with hardly an intrusion, which allows virtually the entire boot space to be utilised.

Under the very short bonnet of the Datsun redi-GO is the same 799 cc three-cylinder petrol engine that powers the Kwid. Output of this compact 57-kilo engine is 54 PS at 5,678 RPM and 72 Nm of peak torque at 4,368 RPM. Claimed fuel economy is 25.17 km/l, which again is identical to what Renault claim for their Kwid. The familiar engine is as smooth in this Japanese car as it is under the bonnet of the French cousin. Overtaking slow moving buses (or the odd tram) and whizzing past hand-pulled rickshaws is easily done but the car runs out of breath as you try to access the claimed 140 km/h top speed on the open six-lane tree lined roads of Kolkata's New Town. This then is a city-bred machine that's best kept within the urban confines.

The redi-GO’s suspension set up is on the softer side of life, which means at city speeds especially over Kolkata’s undulating and potholed roads felt rather supple. As speeds creep up however one can feel an increasing wallowing in the redi-GO’s behaviour. The car is definitely nimble footed and quick to turn but less confidence inspiring as speeds rise. The speed sensitive electric power steering is light to operate at slow speeds and turning a crawling redi-GO is child’s play. At higher velocities the steering does weigh up a bit but feels artificial and lacking in feedback.

With the redi-GO, Datsun will look to undercut Renault’s prospects with the Kwid. At the same time the product will seek to undermine Maruti Suzuki's stranglehold on the segment with their Alto. Datsun has said that it will price the car between Rs 2.5 to Rs 3.5 lakh, which on the face of it seems promising. However, that’s not significantly cheaper than the price of the redi-GO’s rivals. So our first impression is that despite having a good product that is a good fit for the purpose it will be used for, it will not be a cakewalk for the Datsun redi-GO.

Need to know

Datsun: redi-GO

Engine: 799 cc, three cylinder, in-line, petrol, DI

Max: 54 PS @

Power: 5,678 RPM

Max: 72 Nm @

Torque: 4,368 RPM

Transmission: Five-speed Manual

Kerb Weight: NA

Price: Rs 2.5 to Rs 3.5 lakh (Estimated)

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