It’s a well-known fact that the Datsun Redigo and the Renault Kwid share the same platform, and that while they have many mechanical bits in common, each car has its own distinct character. Now, Datsun has been steadily following in the Kwid’s successful footsteps, and like its French cousin (and rival), the Redigo, too, came with same 0.8-litre (BR08) engine, followed by the 1.0-litre (BR10) motor. Hence, it was only a matter of time before Datsun introduced an automated manual transmission (AMT) version of the Redigo, and it’s finally here.
This AMT version of the Redigo looks identical to the standard 1.0-litre variant. There’s not even a badge to set it apart, it’s only on the inside where the gear lever reveals that this Redigo is the long-awaited automatic variant.
What is it like inside?
Yes, there’s a conventional gear lever; a proper stick-type unit and not the rotary dial found in the Renault Kwid. Like the exteriors, the interiors, too, are identical to the 2017 1.0-litre variant save for minor, AMT-specific changes. The all-black theme with silver highlights continues, and while interior quality isn’t particularly the car’s strength, the black does well to hide imperfections on the inside. Another inclusion with this variant is a new Bluetooth-enabled music system, which is good news. However, we can’t comment on its functionality, as the one fitted on our test car refused to work after sometime, much before we could even pair a mobile phone to it. Also, the multi-information display (MID) is a bit different, now; and while the tachometer has been given a miss, there’s a gear position indicator that’s new.
What is it like to drive?
Since we’ve covered the 68hp 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine in more detail earlier, we’ll focus on the 5-speed automated manual transmission here. The good news is that this car gets a creep mode, although it is unusually slow. This function is good when parking, however, in traffic, one will need to use the accelerator to dart into those gaps. Ironically, Datsun calls the creep function ‘rush hour mode’! On the move, if you drive with a gentle foot, the gearshifts are seamless and barely even noticeable. However, with more aggressive inputs, that irritating pause or ‘head-nod’ between gearshifts that’s so typical of AMTs, becomes more pronounced. Still, it’s smooth enough for intra-city commutes. The manual mode is a welcome addition and responds very well and automatic rev matches whilst downshifting can be quite entertaining for enthusiasts. However, the thrummy, vocal nature of this three-cylinder engine, isn’t. Having said that, this engine packs in peppy performance and it pulls strongly, so performance in the city is very good for its segment.
The Redigo’s steering is light to twirl and the extremely short turning radius makes taking tight U-turns a breeze. However, get up to highway speeds, and there is a clear disconnect between the steering and front wheels, which can get quite unnerving and doesn’t inspire confidence. The ride is still firm and it continues to crash over bad roads.
Should I buy one?
The AMT in the Redigo gives prospective buyers yet another reason to consider this car. It remains a smartly-styled, practical car which is amply spacious for its size and due to its tall stance, is very user-friendly, too. The high ground clearance, light steering and nice frontal visibility make it very easy to drive; and now this automatic only makes it easier. Datsun may be making its moves very late in the segment, as compared to rivals like the Maruti Alto and the Renault Kwid, however, this Redigo does pack in a lot of strengths. For city commuting, then, the Redigo offers buyers in this segment almost everything they’re looking for – space, style, practicality and ease of driving. The Redigo 1.0-litre AMT is pegged rather aggressively to begin with, at prices ranging from Rs 3.81-3.96 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). The AMT’s price is about Rs 20,000 more than the subsequent 1.0-litre manual transmission; this makes it the most affordable AMT in its segment.