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Review: Datsun Go+

Driven December 2014

Review: Datsun Go+

We all thought that the compact MPV segment was a bit too ambitious to be practical, but then cars like the Chevy Enjoy, Maruti Ertiga and Honda Mobilio came along and proved us wrong. And just when we thought they cannot get smaller than these, Datsun is trying to surprise us with a yet another all-new segment – sub-compact MPV. We're not sure if that’s the term they use in their communication, but that is just what the Go-based seven-seater is on paper at least.

You have got to see it to believe how small a 7-seater can get. From the outside, the Datsun Go+ could pass of as a mini-estate. A bulbous rear has been added to the Go hatchback, which looks huge, but is fused well into the overall design. It’s no tacky add-on job like we have seen on some compact-sedans. The front stays unchanged, with the large mesh grille and big hexagonal headlamps. Most of the car is just a carryover – the width, height and even wheelbase is the same as the Go hatch. Obviously, costs had to be controlled.

See more pics of the Datsun Go+ here

Interiors have also been largely untouched. It remains fairly spartan, with more emphasis on functionality rather than aesthetics. On the pre-launch drive, we drove the top-of-the-line variant which features an in-built aux unit where you can hook-up your smartphone and use it to enjoy music, through the surprisingly-decent built-in speakers. Although the idea is clever and useful, the Go+ still uses that rather flimsy docking station as in the smaller hatchback.

The biggest change in the Go+ is, obviously, that the second row of seats can now be folded up to access the last row, which can seat two, at best. But even then it is a squeeze when it comes to legroom for average-sized adults. It's best used for children.

While the 1.2-petrol engine and 5-speed manual gearbox is the same combo from the Go, Nissan engineers have done an effective job in enhancing the overall drivability and refinement. The five-speed gearbox does not have slick shifts, although the throws are short. But quite impressive is the power delivery from the engine. You can pick the car from whatever speed, and practically any gear, without a fuss. This makes driving in regular traffic much easier, and also gives you the sense of a vast torque curve, as in a diesel engine. Thankfully, the cabin noise is also much lesser now.

The steering is light, but not dead and the car isn’t a handful. There is body roll, thanks to the extended rear, but the car doesn’t loose composure easily. Ride is choppy, but firm, and it doesn’t get easily rattled. Of course, this is a light car – only 30 kilos heavier than the hatchback – so the performance hasn’t gone south. It feels fairly peppy, if shown the stick.

Scheduled for a mid-Jan 2015 launch, the Go+ will come in four variants. Pricing, of course, will be crucial. Considering the Go costs around ₹3.6-4.2 lakh, expect a ₹15K-30K rise in price for the Go+, which means it will cost about the same as a Maruti Wagon R or a Hyundai i10. The question is, will the extra row of seats find enough takers over creature comforts like power windows and conventional music systems? Surely, the Go+ will play a very delectable starting price like the Go, but then it will also not offer basic features like power steering and air conditioner at that price.

The trend is that Indians are now in the hunt for better features, apart from the basic premise of cars being robust, comfortable and reliable. The Go+ offers a different kind of extra – more seats, which no other car offers in this segment. More than the utility of the seats, the additional luggage-bearing capacity is also a selling point of the car. But it may not be enough in the long run. Datsun will have to round off the rough edges on the Go+ with a more conventional interior, and additional standard features to make customers take notice of what is inherently a one-of-its kind car, so far.

The numbers
1198cc 3-cyl petrol, 67bhp @ 5000rpm, 104Nm @ 4000rpm, ₹3.75 - 4.5 lakh (ex-showroom, estimated)

The verdict
Improved driving experience and comfort than the Go. More of a hatchback with a larger boot than a proper 7-seater.

Girish KarkeraBook Now

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