Nissan Motor India brought the Datsun brand to the country five years ago, and has since launched three car models. The first car to be launched was the Datsun GO hatchback in 2014, followed by the GO+ MPV in 2015. The Datsun Redi-GO hatchback was the third model to be launched by the company in 2016, following it with a 1 litre variant in 2017. While the company’s third model, the Redi-GO has been performing exceedingly well in the market, the two primary models – GO and GO+ – haven’t performed as per expectations.
And to address this, Nissan has updated the Datsun GO and GO+ packing it with features inside as well as in the exterior of the vehicles. The company has made visual changes to the exteriors, while carrying out elaborate modifications inside the cabin. Auto Tech Review was invited by the company to experience both the Datsun GO and GO+ in Chennai across city roads and highway routes, and here is our first drive review of the entry-level cars.
The exterior of both Datsun GO and GO+ feature a same new front bumper design that encompasses a grill that looks slightly larger than the earlier models. The front bumper also integrates the new vertically-placed LED daytime running lights (DRL), which beyond its obvious safety characteristic, adds to the visual appeal of the facia. The cars also have slightly redesigned headlamp clusters, which need a second look to be differentiated from the previous iteration.
The rear bumpers on both cars have been redesigned, with the one on the GO+ now featuring a faux air vent giving it added aesthetic appeal. The Datsun GO now comes with a chrome strip at the bottom tip of the hatch door, while the GO+ features a chrome number plate garnish. The tail lights of both cars remain largely unchanged from their earlier model. The company could have added a small LED element to the tail lamp cluster and reconfigured the cluster to also bring it up a notch, in terms of styling.
While the side profile of both the GO and GO+ remain largely unchanged, the most obvious difference is in the larger wheels that the cars now come with. The top-end variants feature 14-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels in dual tone chrome with black finish, and the lower variants come with 14-inch steel wheels. The wheels are shod with 165/70 R14 section tyres that provide improved grip and stability, in addition to filling the wheel arches well. The company has also introduced one new body colour on each of the models - Amber Orange for the GO and Sunstone Brown for the GO+.
It is only when one enters the cabin of the new GO and GO+ cars that the changes in these facelifts can be seen. The dashboard and front seat layouts have been changed drastically, especially with the handbrake lever now being moved in between the front seats to a more conventional location. This means the cars are now being offered with twin bucket seats in the front, as opposed to the bench seat that was the earlier offering. Besides these changes in the front of the cabin, there hasn’t been any other alteration to the rest of the interiors.
The dashboard layout has also been changed in the cars, with the central circular air-conditioning vents now being replaced by trapezoidal ones placed at the top of the centre of the dashboard. This change has been made to accommodate the new 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system that is offered with the upper T and T(O) trims. The dashboard in the GO hatchback is single-coloured in dark grey with subtle silver accents and textures. Meanwhile, the GO+ MPV has a dual-tone dashboard that is finished off in dark grey and white, completed with the silver accents and varied textures. The newly-designed dashboard layout that has been tucked in at the bottom, along with the closed glove box and new dark colour treatment has elevated the overall visual appeal of the interiors.
The all-new infotainment system in the Datsun GO and GO+ offers features including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity, Bluetooth telephony for hands-free connectivity and voice recognition. The system offers multimedia connectivity in the form of radio, USB and Aux-in. While the smart infotainment system enables navigation via smartphone, it does not offer standalone navigation directly from the system, something that is sorely missed. This is especially essential, since navigation is one of the top requirements of customers in an infotainment system.
The instrument cluster in the cars is now offered with an analogue tachometer in the top variant, while the other trims levels continue to have the digital tachometer in the multi-information display (MID) area. The console provides warnings and indications for gear shift, low fuel and driver seatbelt, while the MID provides dual trip readings, average speed and engine running time details. The cabin has also been designed with multiple cubby holes for storage of knick knacks and water bottles that would address the requirements of a small family perfectly.
The cars are offered with standard safety equipment in the form of driver and front passenger airbags, ABS and EBD with Brake Assist, and rear parking assist sensors. Engine immobiliser, central locking and audio warning of speed at 80 km/h and 100 km/h are other standard features that the Datsun GO and GO+ come with. The braking system of the cars, which consists of discs in front and drums at the rear perform their duties well for the purpose the cars are meant to serve. The larger rims and tyres with increased width, along with ABS, EBD and Brake Assist complement braking and enable an increased sense of safety during emergency braking. It is noteworthy that we encountered a situation that required hard braking on the highway section due to an unexpected animal crossing, and the Datsun GO that we were driving was very much under control during the entire event.
While all variants of the Datsun GO and GO+ come with power widows for the front seats, the top three variants offer all four power windows with driver side control. The auto down function for the driver window alone comes as a standard feature in the cars. The lowest trim model is equipped with internally-adjustable manual outside rear-view mirrors (ORVM), while the rest comes with electrically-adjustable ORVMs. Other standard convenience features in the car are front power outlet and follow me headlamps that stay turned on for a few seconds after the car is locked. For better rear visibility during rains, the highest trim level of both cars come fitted with rear wiper and washer.
The Datsun GO and GO+ cars continue to be powered by the three-cylinder, 1,198 cc, HR12 DE petrol engine that delivers a maximum power of around 67 hp at 5,000 rpm. The engine puts out peak torque of 104 Nm at 4,000 rpm. The engine is mated to a five-speed manual transmission, which is paired with a clutch that is light and easy for the foot, even in city driving conditions. The clutch release on both the Datsun GO and GO+ was soft, which made even stop-and-go rush hour traffic a calm affair. The gears also slot into place firmly, making the manual drive pleasant across driving various types of roads.
Both the cars are claimed to return an ARAI-certified fuel economy figure of 19.83 km/l, which is what is expected out of small three-cylinder petrol engines in hatchbacks. The GO and GO+ are able to return such fuel efficiency numbers since the engine is low powered, but in range with competing car models. However, it must be noted that this 1.2 litre engine is no bore on the road, and can cruise comfortably at speeds of around 80-90 km/l, while turning in at just 2,500-3,000 rpm. This is the sweet spot where the engine is not being strained too hard, exhaust note is low and there is enough leeway to cut down a gear when an overtaking manoeuvre is asked for.
The suspension setup of the cars is also unchanged, consisting of McPherson struts with lower transverse link in front and twist beam with coil spring at the rear. Even though the wheel size has been increased, the suspension tuning feels just right, with the cars soaking up undulations with ease. However, while the ride feels pleasant on different types of surfaces, when a pothole or bad patch is encountered the noise transferred into the cabin from that is on the higher side. Tyre and wind noise while driving above 60 km/l is also present, but nothing beyond what one would expect from a car in a similar or slightly higher price range. The 180 mm of ground clearance offered in both models also works beneficial in our road conditions, keeping the under body of cars from getting scuffed in almost all situations.
The Datsun GO and GO+ have been launched at Rs 3.29 lakh and Rs 3.83 lakh, ex-showroom, respectively, which is a great price point not only for the hatchback, but also for the only seven-seater model in the segment. The company has improved the exterior outlook of the cars with the changes that have been made, and has also added convenience features that provide increased ease and comfort. All these combined with the conventional layout of the front seats and dashboard design result in improved ergonomics and drivability of these entry-level models in the market.
Datsun has consciously taken an effort to improve the overall packaging of its two original offerings in the Indian market, especially with them not having taken off as expected. It must be noted that while certain features continue to show the low manufacturing cost of the GO and GO+, overall the products have been upraised from their former selves to become much more appealing. Therefore, the Datsun GO hatchback and GO+ MPV have indeed been ‘face-lifted’ to become improved versions of their earlier iterations.
TEXT: Naveen Arul
PHOTO: Bharat Bhushan Upadhyay