2014 Datsun GO Test Drive Review
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2014 Datsun GO Review

Car Tested: 2014 Datsun GO

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 3.72 – 4.39 lakhs

The Datsun GO meets all the expectations of a first time car buyer in India.

After 32 years of void, the Datsun brand is being revived and we, Indians, should feel privileged that Nissan is introducing the brand to our country first. Basically, Nissan is targeting up-and-coming aspirational customers of the emerging markets with their new sub-brand. India being the rising country for such audience, what better place than here and what better time than now for Nissan to gather huge volumes? So the first Datsun to be launched after the brand’s revival is the GO. Yes, the name sounds offbeat but it’s derived from the first Datsun, Dat GO, launched in Japan in 1914. The Datsun GO hatchback intends to be affordable yet practical at the same time. We explore the car in detail to find out whether the entry level hatchback makers have something to worry about or not.

Motor Quest: The Datsun brand had originated in 1914, when a Japanese automaker Masujiro Hashimoto founded the Kwaishinsha Motor Car Works in 1911 and produced its first car, called DAT. DAT was an acronym of the company’s investors’ family names. The company was gradually renamed and finally became Datsun in 1931. Nissan phased out the brand in 1986 and it has now been revived.

2014 Datsun GO Review Front2014 Datsun GO Review Rear

The smart styling cues of the Datsun GO makes a good presence on the road, the car doesn’t appear basic

Exteriors – The Datsun GO looks upmarket and fresh, considering the targeted entry level hatchback segment. Nothing is quirky in its design language and it looks well balanced from every angle. The GO looks sizeable based on the Nissan Micra’s V-platform. The front end is sharp and broad, where the most attractive bit is the diamond shaped Datsun grille. Every element at the front such as the bonnet lines, big headlamps and heavily sculpted bumper is pointing towards the large grille. The only plaque in the teeth of the GO’s front styling is the unusual single wiper.

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Clean and smooth lines run across the body that makes it look visually polished

The side profile is neat, where the shoulder line and lower crease run smoothly across the body. The shoulder line merges with a power bulge at the rear door that continues to the tail and gives the GO a good presence. The blacked out B-pillars reflect a good contrast with the body but the big wheel arches and small 13-inch tyres looks wacky from the side. The rear of the Datsun GO is tastefully done as well, having an angular rear windshield with squarish tail lamp cluster and chunky bumper. Nissan has emphasised on the Datsun logo at the tailgate sitting on a bulge.

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The dashboard looks simple and plain but offers good practicality for the users

Interiors – The interiors of the Datsun GO are not really exciting after examining the mature exteriors. There is this ordinary and basic feeling which you get out of the dashboard when you enter the cabin. The light colour tones are used well though, giving a sense of good space. The seat fabric includes Jacquard finish on the top of the line variant, while others have plain finish. The dashboard uses dual tone beige colour with a black central console. The steering wheel feels good to hold, which is a three spoke unit with a big horn pad (but the horn has a monotone). The instrument cluster is simple and easy to read, which has a gear shift guide on the speedometer. There is a small LCD digital screen below the speedometer that displays tachometer, fuel level, instantaneous fuel consumption, average fuel efficiency, trip computer and distance to empty.

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The switches and knobs provide positive feedback and don’t feel cheap

The controls and stalks are derived from the Nissan Micra that feel good to use and provide tactile feedback. The air conditioning is quite effective and those Micra inspired circular vents are convenient to use with good air throw. The inside rear view mirrors as well as outside mirrors have good visibility but the sad thing is, the ORVMs are manually adjustable without stalks. Power windows are provided only at the front and the driver doesn’t have the additional switch to control the passenger side window. The overall quality feels good and sturdy.

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The mobile docking station is convenient to use but only for those having smartphones

Now let’s talk about the Mobile Docking Station that is being offered as standard across all GO variants. It is a gimmick that can attract many buyers but look at it the other way round and you will realise that it’s a clever cost saving technique. Nissan believes that there is a huge growth in smartphone ownership in India and that’s a fact. Keeping that in mind, they have offered a convenient docking system with two front speakers, which have average sound quality. The system includes a docking unit for your phone, AUX input for audio and USB port for charging your phone along with power button and volume control. There is a 12V accessory socket as well, provided below the AC controls. So if you have a smartphone with internet connection you can play music, access navigation, attend call hands-free, etc. on-the-‘GO’.

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The assist surface links the two front seats providing space to keep things

In order to maximize space inside the cabin, Datsun has provided a dashboard mounted gearlever and handbrake lever. The gearlever is placed at a convenient place but the handbrake lever gets fidgety and fouls with a tall driver’s knee. Now that the gearlever and handbrake has been positioned onto the dashboard, what about the space left in between? That’s called the ‘assist’ surface, which is attached to the front passenger seat. This little space is not intended to be used as an extra seat and it shouldn’t be used as one because there’s no seat belt and it would be cramped. The assist surface is provided to place goods like bags, coats, maps, etc. so that they are close at hand. In our congested parking situations, this arrangement helps when you have parked your car in a tight space and you can’t open your door, so one can quickly hop onto the passenger seat without touching anything and get out of the car.

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The door pockets can hold bottles upto 1.5-litres with some extra space for knick knacks

There are many storage zones at the front and none at the back. The door pockets can hold 1.5-litres of bottles and then there is some space under the steering wheel for mobile phones, parking tickets, coins and so forth. The glove box is deep and can accommodate many things but its open and there is no lid provided to keep things safe. There is a small pit on top of the dash too, where you can keep knick knacks. There are no ceiling-mounted grab handles at the front, they are only provided for rear passengers.

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Enough legroom and shoulder room to accommodate three abreast with ease

In addition to dashboard mounted gearlever and handbrake, the seats are thin with integrated headrests that contribute further more in cabin space. So there is decent amount of legroom for all the passengers but the seats are not supportive, especially the rear bench, which is flat. The integrated headrests at the rear are too low, providing minimum neck support. The front seats still offer decent back support. However, head room is ample and the Datsun GO can accommodate five people with decent comfort. The rear seatbelts don’t have a pullback mechanism and instead they rest on a hook, so you have to adjust the seatbelts every time you sit at the back and place it on to the hook thereafter.

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275 litres of substantial boot space, which is best in class, rear seats flip forward

The Datsun GO gets 275-litres of class leading boot space, which can swallow a good load of luggage easily. The rear seats can be folded down flat for more cargo space. However, you can only open the hatch from the internal boot release, as the tailgate doesn’t have a key lock. There are no dampening elements on the tailgate, so every time you shut the hatch, there is a harsh and tinny noise. Now there are some convenient and first in segment features such as the Intelligent Wiper System (IWS), which is a speed sensing system that has variable wiping intervals depending on the speed of the vehicle. Then there are Follow Me Home headlamps. Before locking the car, you simply pull the headlamp flasher once that illuminates using the headlights for 30 seconds. Two pulls will leave the lights on for a minute, three pulls for 90 seconds and four for two minutes.

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The 1.2-litre engine derived from the Nissan Micra is de-tuned and re-tuned

Performance – The Datsun GO is powered by a 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder petrol engine, which is derived from the Nissan Micra but is de-tuned and produces 68 PS of power at 5000 RPM with 104 Nm of torque at 4000 RPM. The GO is light, weighing 769 kgs and produces relatively high performance figures compared to its rivals. This recipe makes the performance peppy and fairly quick. Remember the rapid initial acceleration of the Maruti 800? Same is the case with the GO but in a much smoother and refined manner that stretches up to the northern side of the mid range. The Datsun GO can do 0-100 km/hr sprint in just 14 seconds, which is remarkable.

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Engine has enough pep to munch miles on highways, reaching 100 km/hr in 14 seconds

This peppy nature of the 3-pot motor makes it easy to shoot the car in gaps precisely and you would find it very easy to drive around town. Now you get past the mid range and are about to touch the redline (which comes in early at 5200 RPM), this is the zone where you would feel the engine lose steam and strain a bit. However, compared to the rivals, power delivery is mature and the engine doesn’t struggle to gather speed. Even with the AC on and three passengers sitting with some luggage in the boot, the GO feels at ease. The downside of this 3-cylinder engine is that it vibrates at idle and that’s evident but once the revs build up there are no such vibrations. The engine sounds quite nice for a 3-cylinder unit.

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The Datsun GO is fast yet frugal, returning ARAI 20.6 km/l of fuel efficiency

The engine’s highway response is worth appreciating, as it keeps the car on charge at high speeds and doesn’t feel as if it is being pulled. The Datsun GO can manage to touch 165 km/hr but it feels fairly controllable between 120 – 130 km/hr. Mated to the 3-cylinder 1.2-litre petrol is a 5-speed manual transmission that feels little notchy but slots into the gates easily. The ratios seem to be well spaced out and in gear acceleration is good. At 100 km/hr in fifth gear, the tachometer hovers around a calm 2500 RPM, so you can imagine its cruising ability at highways. The hydraulic pressure type clutch is light to use and maintenance free compared to the lever type conventional clutch. The Datsun GO returns an ARAI claimed fuel mileage of 20.6 km/l but in real world conditions expect it to be around 15 km/l ballpark.

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Highway cruising in the GO feels effortless, thanks to good ride quality and performance

Driving Dynamics – The Datsun GO is based on the Nissan Micra’s V-platform, which is known for good handling and ride. The ride quality is amazing and unbeatable by the rivals. It feels a few segments above its class. The long travel of the suspension and linear damper makes the ride flat in most conditions but on really bad roads, the suspension gives that thumping feeling. Now because of the long suspension travel and small tyres the body roll is pronounced, otherwise the handling is good and it responds well. The electronic power steering has torque sensing motor and it is speed sensitive, so the feedback is linear.

2014 Datsun GO Review
Body roll is very noticeable with the long suspension travel and small tyres

The steering wheel is light and easy at city speeds and weighs up nicely at high speeds. Datsun GO’s another strong character is its high speed stability. It can munch miles with confidence at speeds above 100 km/hr. The 13-inch tyres make the ride a bit bouncy at extreme speeds but the steering has no drama and vibrations are under control. Crosswinds tend to affect the car on highways because of the light weight. The NVH is on the weaker side, as the engine and wind noise is quite apparent at high speeds. There is no ABS so the braking performance isn’t confidence inspiring and the tyres tend to lock early and screech. However, brake bite is good and it sheds speed relatively quick, doing 80 km/hr to 0 in 33 metres.

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The Datsun GO lacks safety features which aren’t even offered as an option

Safety – The Datsun GO doesn’t come with ABS and airbags, not even as an option on the range topping trim. This comes as a surprise, considering the fact that Nissan is offering the Micra with driver airbag as standard across all variants, even the Micra Active XV S comes with driver and passenger airbag along with ABS, EBD and BA. After the Global NCAP tests of some Indian cars, the awareness of safety aspect on cars is growing amongst Indian buyers. Nissan should consider offering ABS and at least a driver side airbag as an option if not standard equipment on the Datsun GO in the near future.

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The GO is capable and can prove to be a good revival for the Datsun brand

Verdict – The Datsun GO is being targeted at first time car buyers in India and if you are one of them, you will notice that your checklist tallies all the right boxes with the GO. Nissan’s new entry-level hatchback is big in size and has smart styling cues that will make you give it a second glance after parking it. It has ample amount of space to accommodate five people and good load of luggage with ease. The GO offers some smart features while keeping the costs in check. The frugal yet powerful engine along with the mature suspension setup makes driving easy and comfortable in city as well as highways. Yes, cost cutting is evident and it lacks the necessary safety features but at the end of the day, it’s offering huge bang for your buck and is a tough nut to crack in this segment.

The Datsun GO can be a game changer in the entry level hatchback segment by offering almost everything that a first car buyer expects but additional safety features would have been appreciated.

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Cost cutting has been done in certain places but the GO offers full bang for your buck

What’s Cool

* Styling
* Spacious Cabin
* Peppy Performance
* Ride

What’s Not So Cool

* Lack of safety features

Alternatives: Maruti Alto K10, Hyundai Eon, Chevrolet Spark

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The Datsun which is a Nissan and the Nissan which is a Renault, confusing eh?

2014 Datsun GO Specifications

* Engine: 1198cc, 3-cylinder, DOHC
* Power: 68 HP @ 5000 RPM
* Torque: 104 Nm @ 4000 RPM
* Transmission: 5-speed manual
* 0-100 km/hr: 14 seconds
* Fuel Consumption: 14 km/l (City), 17 km/l (Highway)
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Suspension: McPherson Struts (Front), Torsion Beam (Rear)
* Tyres: 155/70/13
* Brakes: Ventilated Disc (Front), Drum (Rear)
* Safety: Immobilizer

2014 Datsun GO Dimensions

* Overall length x width x height: 3785 mm X 1635 mm X 1485 mm
* Wheelbase: 2450 mm
* Turning Radius: 4.6 metres
* Ground clearance: 170 mm
* Boot Volume: 265 liters
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 35 litres
* Kerb Weight: 769 kgs