Approaching the one-year mark in our fleet, the Datsun Go has been a decent enough performer. Although no one takes this hatchback for any weekend trips out of the city, it serves well enough in the cut and thrust of Mumbai’s painful traffic. So, in a week when the Go’s services weren’t needed for any shoot, I decided to use it as my daily commuter to work.
The engine is a sprightly little 1.2-litre unit that makes this rather light car an eager punter. Although power delivery is a little jerky, it didn’t take me long to get used to it and then, we were happily closing gaps in traffic, the Datsun and I, quickly and easily. The other positive that shines through when you spend enough time in traffic in this car is how little effort it requires to drive. And that makes a big difference at those kilometres-long congestions on Mumbai’s streets. On the downside though, when you do have long periods sitting in traffic, you also tend to notice the lack of entertainment features inside. There’s no radio, no Bluetooth, no CD player; an aux input is all you get and a USB port but that can be used only for charging your phone.
Bare basic features aside, the ergonomics aren’t exactly very well sorted either. The gearbox feels a little odd to reach for, given that it’s one of the few offerings in our market with the lever mounted on the dash. The pull-type handbrake is also cumbersome to use but most irritatingly, its placement ensures that the handle keeps digging into the side of your legs as you drive. At least you’re sat comfortably enough thanks to the broad bench seat.
At the end of the day though, it all boils down to build quality, especially now that the Go has been getting on in kilometres. Bits have started to rattle and squeak and the noisy suspension amplifies the feeling of being in something flimsy. I understood why the Datsun was mostly left out of tracking duties when it required driving on highways; it’s not the most confidence-inspiring machine as speeds build.
All said, the Datsun Go may not be feature packed, well built or the most comfortable, but it is peppy, easy to drive, has enough space inside and comes with a very affordable price tag. If it’s a hassle-free, effortless city commuter you’re looking for, this is a car you can very easily live with.