Datsun, the latest entrant in the budget segment, started off its innings with the Go hatchback. While that car is giving competition to budget heavyweights like Maruti's Alto and Hyundai's Eon, Datsun is ready to compete in the compact MPV segment with the Go+.
What is it?
It’s basically a Datsun Go with extra space in the rear and seen head on, it looks exactly like the hatchback. Everything from the hexagonal grille, the V in the bonnet to the wrap-around headlights with metal inserts and the windscreen are the same. There's the same three-cylinder, all-aluminium 1.2-litre engine with high-tech features like one ignition coil per cylinder, producing 67bhp at 5000rpm and powering this larger car. But it has been tuned to be more responsive. And then while there's the identical wheelbase and 155/70 R13 tyres, the suspension has been slightly stiffened to handle the greater weight better. Changes on the estate car like Datsun Go+ from the hatchback start past the rear door. The roofline swoops down and the beltline arcs up to provide a nice effect, and the 'flick' on the shoulder looks quite stylish. The hatch at the rear is a fresh design with a slimmer rear windscreen. Where Datsun has really done well is in limiting this mini-MPV's length to under four metres, which enables it to fit into that crucial category for every carmaker looking to dodge taxation.
What's it like on the inside?
There's not much new to be said once you climb into the cabin as it's basically a Go hatchback upfront. You are greeted by the dashboard that you'd be familiar with if you've been in the first Datsun product. It's stylish and functional but hardly one with substance. Even the air-con system is basic with a four-speed blower and no option to de-fog or re-circulate. With seating, the front seats are as slim, flat so u tend to slide around. But there's no seat height adjust, or steering adjust here either. It's the second row that seems to have witnessed some improvement and it feels like a bit more airy and comfortable place to be in. However, it's still as lacking in thigh support. The all important third row, needs to be accessed by folding and flipping the second row seats forward. But the added row is not a space you would want to fit into. There is just no space for adults here. And this applies even for children. The bench is on the floor with absolutely no space to rest your feet and your head (even for those of average height) will knock against the descending roof. What it can be used for, is luggage; it can hold at least three to four large bags here. In fact, with the second and third row folded down, the Go+ has the practicality of a mini estate car.
What's it like to drive?
Despite the same motor churning out the exact same number of horses as in the Go and with an added 20 kilograms to pull, the torque helps the Go+ MPV take off with quite some eagerness. The motor has been re-tuned and made more responsive and, as a result, the Datsun responds when you put your foot down. The Go+ is even comfortable cruising around in a high gear in city traffic. What’s nice is that you don’t even need to go to a lower gear most of the time. The gearbox and light clutch work well enough if you work with a firm hand. Other things that make driving easy are the well-metered brakes and the light steering. While the sound insulation is still quite poor with plenty of road and tyre noise filtering in, it is definitely a step ahead of the Go hatchback. Also, if you rev the motor to 5000rpm, it starts to sound quite noisy. It rides well too, the suspension has been upgraded to deal with the greater load at the rear, but it is very pliant and absorbent and really silent when going over rough patches and there isn’t too much pitching or nose-bobbing. It does roll when cornered hard though, owing to the high ground clearance, soft springs and lack of anti-roll bars. And the slim tyres don't offer too much grip either.
Should I buy one?
While Datsun insists on calling it a seven-seater, the Go+ isn’t exactly a proper one. The third row can only accommodate luggage and can't really be used to seat anyone (but small children).If you look at it as a five-seater, with a decent amount of luggage space, that makes it more of sense. True, the budget segment treatment by Datsun isn't very subtle, and could even put off some customers. But if you consider the Rs 4.1 lakh (estimated) price tag (which is only around Rs 30,000 more than the hatchback), this could very well turn out to be a practical and popular five-seater.