Launched in June 2016, the redi-GO was Datsun’s third offering for the Indian car market. An year later in July 2017, a larger 1.0-litre motor was added as an option. And although it is highest selling car for both Nissan and Datsun in India, rivals have an edge in terms of offering AMT versions in their line-up. The company now aims to clear that up with the new redi-GO AMT. We drove it for an entire day on Delhi’s congested roads and here is what we think of it.
It looks exactly the same
This was expected – there are absolutely no changes on the outside, not even an AMT badge for that matter. The top-spec version continues to get wheel covers, a dash of chrome and lovely little DRL units up front. The redi-GO does have an unconventional design that makes you notice it in a sea of entry level hatchbacks.
The Datsun redi-GO is based on the Renault Kwid platform but is slighter shorter and narrower. It makes up in the height department and also offers better ground clearance. This tall boy design makes it look larger in real-life compared to the Maruti Alto as well.
The curves and creases go a long way in making it look city-smart although the rear is a bit odd what with that high rise bumper and a small glass area. That said, at this price point, the overall aesthetic levels are high.
The interiors are identical. Well almost
Don’t be fooled by the small external dimensions. Step inside and you notice the airy interiors. A larger glass area surely helps and so does the high seating set-up. Ergonomically, the redi-GO does the job, except for that odd location for the front power window switches. Also, in my case, the protruding central console was a hindrance in terms of space for my left knee. This could also be a safety hazard during a front impact.
In terms of quality levels, given the price, we can’t really complain. The plastics seem hard and will be practical in the long run. There are enough places to keep your knick knacks and this includes space above the glove box, below the air-con and in front of the gear lever.
Talking of which, the redi-GO gets a proper conventional gear lever as compared to the rotary knob seen on the Kwid AMT. This gear lever has four modes – R, N, D and M. You start and stop the car in N or neutral mode and unlike the Kwid, this one gets the manual (M) mode as well.
The second change in the redi-GO AMT is the slightly different speedometer console. Gone is the little digital tachometer and in comes the display for the gear indicator. The same display also has an icon to remind the user to press the brake pedal while starting the car.
The third addition is the new Bluetooth enabled audio system. The top spec version continues to come with manual air-conditioning, front power windows, keyless entry and remote boot / fuel cap release. The outside mirrors do not get internal adjustment and a day/night internal mirror is also given a miss. Ditto for the lack of steering wheel adjustment and driver seat height adjustment.
In terms of space, the front seats are reasonably good. Thanks to its height, headroom is also generous. At the back, space is generous, if not as much as the more expensive Kwid. There are no cubby holes for rear passengers at all and our test car lacked a rear parcel tray as well. Talking of the rear cabin, the exposed metal on the inside does remind you of the ‘low cost’ tag attached to the car.
How does it ride and handle
Surprisingly well. The 13-inch wheels with high profile tyres help absorb most undulations. Our test route included different types of roads and the redi-GO came out with flying colors when driven at city speeds. That said, a car without anti-roll bars isn’t the best thing for curves and corners and this was apparent. But we believe most owners will be gentle with their right foot when it comes to taking turns.
This also gets us to the lovely steering – it is feather light and a big boon at crawling speeds. The small turning radius and excellent visibility further make it a great tool during rush hour commutes. You can easily squeeze through gaps and newbies too will love the ease-of-driving factor that the redi-GO comes with.
At higher speeds, in a straight line, the redi-GO feels stable and reassuring. However, the ride becomes bouncy and you need to shed speed to regain confidence over undulations. Braking is best termed as average and ABS is not offered, even as an option.
And how does it drive
The 999cc-3 cylinder engine is known for its punchy performance. 68 bhp / 91 Nm aren’t magical figures but considering the redi-GO’s light weight, the power to weight ratio is excellent. The 5-speed AMT (automated manual transmission) is the same unit seen on the Renault Kwid but in this case, has a manual mode as well.
The engine has vibrations at idle which is very much common in 3-pot units. Shift to D, let go off the brake pedal and the redi-GO moves ahead thanks to the creep mode. This was useful in start-stop traffic though you have to use the accelerator for anything over 4-5 kph. Rev gently and there is no uncalled for drama. Rev hard and you feel slight judders from the clutch system as it tries to cope up with that immediate need for torque and acceleration.
Our test route was inside city limits and allowed us to use the AMT unit to the max. Good pick there, Datsun. Gear shifts, as expected in an AMT, had a bit of a lag but were still faster than changing gears in a manual car. The motor has enough low end torque which comes handy at low speeds when you don’t want the tranny to down shift and yet pick up speeds in the same gear. Worthy of a mention is the fact that in manual mode, when driving pedal to the metal, if you do not up shift as the revs rise and hit the roof, the transmission will automatically shift to the higher gear within a second or two.
The manual mode is impressive. Not only does it allow you to take charge of the gear shift, when you downshift, the system also blips the throttle to match the revs for the smaller gear. Quite entertaining for enthusiasts! Talking of which, the 1.0-litre engine has enough grunt and the only grouse is its tendency to become very vocal. Lack of proper insulation also allows the sound to intrude into the cabin.
One niggling issue we found was with the ignition system. You simply cannot press the brake pedal, insert the key and start the car. You have to wait for half a second before turning the key else the car will not start. The redi-GO AMT then cannot be your perfect ‘getaway car’!
As for fuel economy, we regularly saw 15-16 kmpl on the display, and this was in slow moving traffic.
The Datsun redi-GO 1.0 AMT can very well be India’s most affordable AMT. The Tata Nano is (almost) discontinued and the Renault Kwid is priced higher than the redi-GO. The AMT does make life easier for city commutes and this version continues to offer other strong points like spacious interiors, light steering and a powerful engine.
Better late than never, Datsun has finally made the redi-GO a complete entry level package. The company is betting big on this model and we have every reason to believe the redi-GO AMT will add a spike in sales figures every single month. Pricing is expected to be announced this month itself. Keep an eye on this space.