It’s been two weeks that I’ve been taking home the Datsun Go, and it’s proven to be rather popular with the friends, family and neighbours. Its different styling helps it stand out from other entry-level offerings, and my housing society’s Alto and Eon owners in particular can’t help but comment on its spaciousness. Apart from being a conversation starter, the Go is making my office commute a rather enjoyable experience. Where almost every vehicle on the road is jostling for every square inch of space, the Go’s 67bhp engine in a light 788kg frame makes it easy to close emerging traffic gaps. The motor’s rev-happy nature arms it with quick throttle responses — it actually accelerates as fast as some bigger petrol hatchbacks! I particularly like the light clutch and steering along with the good visibility, which makes it an easy car to drive. But rowing through the gearbox requires effort and it’s taking me a while to get used to the unconventional pull-type handbrake.
At times, it is difficult to convince people that the Datsun Go is indeed an entry-level hatchback. Last weekend, I was parking the Go when a Verna owner pulled into the empty parking slot beside mine. As we both got out of our respective cars, the ‘follow-me-home-headlamps’ function of my budget hatchback and his mid-size sedan came into play. It took a small chat for me to convince him that this feature wasn’t an aftermarket fitment on our longtermer. And yes, his jaw dropped at the price tag. However, my experience with the Go hasn’t been an entirely smooth-sailing one. For starters, the left-side power window can’t be controlled from the driver’s side, which is very irritating. At toll booths where the attendant is on the left, I am forced to first remove the seatbelt, stretch uncomfortably towards the left door and roll down the window before I can tender the fare. A few other cost-cutting measures like lack of sufficient insulation, poor quality Strada tyres that lack grip and rear seatbelts which don’t retract are causing distress. In fact, the inadequacy of the seatbelts serves to highlight that Datsun hasn’t paid much importance to passenger safety, a factor that has come to light with the recent crash tests. Overall, the Go’s punchy motor keeps me smiling and the light weight ensures that it’s quite frugal too when driven with a light foot. The spacious and airy cabin keeps the occupants happy and the 265-litre boot swallows a fair amount of luggage. But lack of basic kit and safety features means the Go is currently being restricted to serving as a city runabout. And it’s a task that this little Datsun is performing rather well.
Datsun Go T
Price: Rs 4.6 lakh (on-road, Mumbai)
Test economy: 15.3kpl (overall)
Maintenance costs: None