A decade ago, all you expected from an entry-level small car was low price and high mileage. And because it was ‘small’, space was neither demanded nor anticipated. Since then, a lot has changed. Today, small cars offer you everything from automatic transmission to airbags, although space still comes at a premium. With its new hatchback, the Go, Datsun aims to change precisely that.
But wait. What is Datsun? Is it a new company? Not quite. Datsun, whose original production run began in 1931, is a brand owned by Nissan. Until 1986, only vehicles exported outside Japan by Nissan were identified as Datsun. In 1986, Nissan phased out the brand. In 2013, Nissan revived it. Because it is targeted at the aspirational middle classes of developing nations, India was chosen as the launchpad for the brand. And the first car is the Go.
The styling of the Go isn’t exciting, but it looks more upmarket and is definitely larger than its immediate competition, the Maruti Alto K10. But don’t expect Hyundai Eon-like fine lines. The front is dominated by a large hexagonal grille and the angular headlamps rake back across the V-shaped bonnet. Design lines from the front bumper extend into the doors and continue towards the rear section of the car. The Go gets 13-inch wheels, which look tiny compared to the size of the car. The exterior build quality also reflects the cost-cutting measures Datsun has carried out in the Go.
Step inside and you will find that the Go ticks almost all the right boxes as far as cabin is concerned. Yes, the cabin resembles that of the Nissan Micra and that is a good thing—air-conditioning vents and door handles are straight lifts. The instrument panel is a single dial speedometer, and in the top-end version we drove, there is a digital tachometer too. Datsun has chosen not to give the car an audio system but only door-mounted speakers. How does that work? There is a mobile phone mount with USB and auxiliary port. Just connect your phone and play either the music stored in your phone or the radio via your phone.
But there are some strange bits, too. For instance, the twist-and-pull handbrake that is mounted on the dashboard looks antique. Then, the glovebox comes without a lockable cover. And because there is a small bench and backrest that connects the front two seats, the whole seating area looks