What is it?
It’s been three years now that Datsun started its India innings and within this time frame, the Japanese brand launched three models targeting the entry level of India’s car buying ladder. But the brand never quite took off to the scale expected. The response to the Go and Go+ was mediocre but there has been greater interest in the Redigo, the smallest and most affordable of Datsun’s offerings in India. Dubbed an ‘urban-crossover’ by Datsun, some of the ingredients that contributed to its appeal were the model’s radical looks, good interior space, high fuel efficiency, the promise of overall reliability and low starting price. Performance though was only okay from the sole engine on offer – the 799cc, three-cylinder – and refinement levels were down on rivals.
Now, in a move similar to its French cousin, the Renault Kwid, Datsun has added a 1-litre engine variant to the Redigo’s line-up. Offering more power and torque than its 0.8-litre avatar, the Redigo 1-litre is all set to take on the likes of the Alto K10, Hyundai Eon and Kwid 1.0-litre. Datsun will offer this new engine variant only in Redigo’s top two trim – T(O) and S – the latter getting a driver airbag.
Visually, there is no change to its 800cc sibling. Only a 1.0-litre badge on the rear tailgate is a giveaway that there is something more powerful lurking under this small hatchback’s hood. The Redigo’s silhouette mostly resembles a ‘tall boy’ design. Bits that stand out include a large grille and swept-back headlamps. LED daytime running lights on the lower portion of the bumper are also unique to the Redigo in the budget hatchback segment.
What is it like on the inside?
The Redigo’s interiors now come in a darker shade of grey which not only looks more contemporary but also better conceals the average panel fit at places. There is a new central locking button on the centre console and remote locking for the doors.
A high seating position and large glass area contribute towards an airy feeling and gives occupants good all-round visibility, though the thick A-pillars can be a bother at crossroads. The Redigo’s real highlight is space with ample headroom and knee room, even for rear passengers. The high seating position means you can slide in or out of the doors quite easily without having to slouch much, beneficial especially for the elderly. Also, there are quite a few storage spaces and cubby holes for storing knick-knacks.
But, along with all the good bits, sadly, many of the bad bits remain, like the tiny glovebox up front which can hold very little. Potential turnoffs also include the painted sheet metal visible inside the cabin, two-speed wiper and lack of internal adjust for the mirrors. Also, Datsun has left out a touchscreen infotainment system as offered on the Kwid. While the absence of a touchscreen is excusable, the Redigo’s music system irritatingly does without Bluetooth connectivity too.
Safety could have got a boost with the addition of anti-lock brakes. At present, only the top version of the Redigo gets a driver’s side airbag.
Datsun, since the launch of Redigo, has been trying to walk the tightrope between keepings costs low and providing the right features. Maybe for this higher variant, it could have leaned ever so slightly in favour of the latter to help its cause slightly better.
What’s it like to drive?
What’s completely new to the Redigo though is the 1-litre engine that it shares with its Renault sibling, the Kwid. This 3-cylinder engine develops 68hp and 91Nm and while not a new performance benchmark in its class, does more than enough to transform the performance credentials of the Redigo. There is more power available throughout the rev band which has made driving around town so much easier. Overtaking manoeuvres too can be executed with more confidence, especially on highways. Power delivery is a whole lot smoother, especially so at low revs, unlike the 800cc-engined car which jerks quite a bit at lower engine speeds. Refinement levels are acceptable for the class of car but even without our sound test equipment we are convinced, the Redigo is louder than the Kwid 1.0 and Alto K10. Sound deadening is really basic and at highway speeds, there is a lot of road and wind noise.
While power is up vis-à-vis the 0.8-litre version, fuel efficiency hasn’t dropped by all that big a figure. Datsun has released an ARAI-tested figure of 22.5kpl for the Redigo 1.0. For reference, the Redigo 0.8 delivers 22.7kpl, the Alto K10 returns 24.07kpl and the Kwid 1.0 delivers 23.01kpl ARAI-tested fuel economy.
Currently, this engine will come only with the 5-speed manual gearbox that gets the job done pretty well with its short throws, but can feel pretty sluggish while shifting gears.
The Redigo continues with the same suspension setup as its 800cc sibling and delivers a ride that is pretty good as per class standards. You may feel it's slightly on the firmer side though, but the suspension does a good job of absorbing small bumps. Also, its tall body tends to induce a bit of body roll when turning at speeds, but not so much as to be alarmed. With its high, unladen ground clearance of 185mm, negotiating most speedbreakers and potholes is an easier affair with the Redigo. The steering feels light and comfortable and is easy to twirl around in city traffic, but for the highway drive a little more weight and sense of connection would help driver confidence. Do note the Redigo is susceptible to moving around in strong crosswinds.
Should I buy one?
The Redigo 1.0 litre has entered this segment a bit late compared to its other well-entrenched rivals like the Alto K10 and Kwid 1.0 litre. As a package, the 1.0-litre variant is the pick of the range of the Redigo line-up. The extra power available at your disposal really uplifts the manner in which this car drives without taxing your wallet for fuel. Traditional strengths of large interior space and overall comfort continue to remain. Buying one could be easier as well if Datsun, following its own precedence, prices it cheaper than the competition like the Kwid and Alto K10. It, however, has already sweetened things with highly competitive ownership packages. The Redigo definitely possesses some rough edges – the lack of interior trim in the rear cabin, an outdated music system and a tiny glovebox are some glaring examples. But if you can overlook these, what remains is a very good and capable city car packing a lot more punch than it did before.