Most of us think it is an easy task for car-makers to come up with a budget car. You put together basics of a car such as engine, platform, transmission, body, tyres and the job seems like it is done. On the face, it does not look like a herculean task. But there is a catch. An average entry level hatchback buyer will definitely consider design, mileage, price and running cost before making a final choice. At the same time, buyers also don't want to see themselves as cheap car owners. Hence, finding right balance of all the aspect is the key to success in this segment.
Datsun has launched a new hatchback in this segment, the redi-Go. On paper, the redi-Go is not an all-new car. It shares the platform and engine of Renault Kwid and claims fuel efficiency of around 25.17kmpl. At this point, it is easy to come up with conclusion that the redi-Go is a Kwid under the skin. However, Datsun officials told us that it is not the story. We have sampled Datsun's new hatchback to check that out.
Design and Styling
It is evident that designers had spent considerable amount of time to make redi-Go distinct over its rivals. The hatchback comes with tallboy stance, something buyers already appreciated with the Hyundai Santro and Maruti Suzuki WagonR. The car features sharp angles and body panels that add character. The face gets high-mounted chrome grille up flanked by large and swept headlights. The top-spec version we drove gets a strip of Daytime Running Lights (DRLs) housed in the front bumper. It looks perfect by adding rich feel yet we found it is not very visible during daytime.
The rear of the hatchback is a bit ordinary. The tail lamps have the shape of boomerang and its protruding positioning extends much needed appeal at the rear. The test car also featured chrome exhaust tip, which is not expected in the entry-level hatchback segment.
It is evident that designers had spent considerable amount of time in drawing board to make redi-Go distinctive over its rivals.
The redi-Go is shorter than the Kwid in length and wheelbase. The Datsun car comes with 185mm ground clearance, which is 5mm higher than the Kwid. We found it is spot on for small towns and village roads. Redi-Go has 222-litre of boot capacity, which is not best in the segment yet adequate for small journeys.
On the inside, grey is the theme colour. The dashboard, steering wheel, door pads and seats are finished in grey. It extends a neat and tidy look to the interior but a black-coloured dashboard would have made it livelier. The dashboard looks more purposeful. An air-con vent positioned top of the central console channels air to the rear. The audio system gets CD and MP3 player, aux-in and USB connectivity, but there's no Bluetooth and touchscreen. The skinny seats up front prove reasonable thigh support. The leg space is also adequate. Where redi-Go really scores is the headroom, thanks to tall boy design. It also adds roominess inside the cabin. Rear seats can accommodate three with some adjustments.
Engine and Transmission
The redi-Go is powered by a 799cc three-cylinder petrol motor that churns out 53bhp and a peak torque of 72Nm, mated to a five-speed manual gearbox. The little petrol motor is quite peppy for city drives. Twist the key, and the engine comes to life with a fair bit of vibration, which is part-and-parcel of a three-cylinder engine. The vibration settles once the accelerator is pressed. The engine refinement level is up to the mark and the gearshifts are shorter, which makes driving easier.
Drive and Performance
When we said the engine is peppy that doesn't mean that it has power beyond expectation. The engine has adequate power and the quick response to inputs makes it a perfect small car. Datsun engineers have reworked on the suspension and it shows. The ride smooth on straight roads. Even when going at speed, it doesn't have any floating effect and the cars feels planted. The set up absorbs even reasonably large bumps quite well. The tall boy stance means, it is not a corner friendly car. It has a negligible amount of body roll. What we found really inviting is the AC. It takes less time to cool cabin than its rivals. Given the weather condition in the country, it deserves thumbs up.
The steering lacks feedback. Yet is it quite light and well calibrated for city driving. Target audience will definitely find it not a problem. We also felt the brakes could have been crisper as one need to anticipate stopping distances well in advance. Datsun is not offering ABS in redi-Go while driver side airbag is offered in the top end trim.
Not so cool bits
Being a budget car, cost-cutting in redi-Go is pretty obvious. The exposed sheet metal, externally-adjusting side-view mirrors, a single windscreen wiper and non-retracting rear seat belts are turn-offs. Features like central locking and key access for the boot are missing too. These were also part of the Kwid yet it found sweet spot in the segment. In fact, Datsun priced redi-Go lesser than Kwid, means in a value-for-money scale, redi-Go will be leading.
The redi-Go is sold in five variants, priced in the range of Rs. 2.39 lakh to Rs. 3.34 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi. At that price point it undercuts most of its rivals that include the Kwid. The competitive pricing is also the USP of the redi-Go.
Over 10,000 bookings and more than 3,000 unit sales in July underlines Datsun has struck the right chord with the redi-Go.
Our verdict accepts what Datsun officials told us. redi-Go is not a Kwid under the skin. Though the both vehicles share many bits, the redi-Go has its own character. The tall boy design with 185mm ground clearance itself says the hatchback is a tailor made product for India. Unique styling, roomier cabin, smooth engine and a tempting price make the redi-Go an ideal car for the first-time buyer. Over 10,000 bookings and more than 3,000 unit sales in July underlines Datsun has struck the right chord with the redi-Go. It is a pocket friendly, no nonsense entry level hatchback.