The Datsun GO boasts its polished driving characteristics at Nissan’s track in Chennai
We have been following the Datsun GO keenly since its global unveiling in India. We gave you our first impressions of the hatchback as soon as we got our hands on it, followed by an exhaustive in-depth review of the new born baby. MotorBeam is known for quick comparisons and we pitted the GO against its competitors within no time to explain what’s new in the segment. This time around we fly to Chennai and explore the capabilities of the Datsun GO at Nissan’s official test track facility. All Nissan and Renault cars manufactured in India have to go through this test track before they get the green signal and we were quite excited to experience the test track ourselves.
Nissan has worked hard to come up with a balanced car for buyers in this segment. They believe that people seek better value propositions in entry level cars and that is true. As far as the Indian market is concerned, a value for money car means practicality, low maintenance and style to some extent. Usually what people in India tend to do is, survey the car under swanky lights of a dealership and gather the tech specs with a long list of features from the service advisor followed by a quick spin in the car, which is merely 2-3 odd kms before they sign the cheque. In this process people miss out the most crucial facet of a car, which is engineering. Now, Nissan wants the buyers to focus more on the important aspects of performance and driving dynamics of a car with the Datsun GO, after all one has to spend more time driving a car rather than gazing it in a parking lot.
The 1.2-litre motor has a right balance of performance and efficiency
We have discussed earlier about the styling and interiors of the Datsun GO in our review. This time we concentrate on the mechanicals and what lies under the skin of this entry-level hatchback. So let’s quickly run through the numbers that the Datsun GO has to offer. Powering the GO is a 3-cylinder, 1.2-litre petrol engine that produces 68 BHP of power at 5000 RPM and 104 Nm of peak torque at 4000 RPM. The balance of performance and fuel efficiency is impressive, as the car returns a claimed mileage of 20.63 km/l. This engine feels perfect for the GO, as it produces good low-end power for city usage and has enough punch and strong torque for a peppy drive on the highways and hilly roads. The power delivery is unmatched in this segment and to test that we did a 0-100 km/hr sprint on the test track. It gathers pace rapidly and reaches the 100 km/hr mark in just 13.3 seconds, which is quite impressive. However, there is some engine noise that penetrates inside the cabin from the 3-cylinder unit when you rev it hard.
Braking performance especially on Indian road conditions should be strong. Considering the fact that Datsun GO doesn’t even come with optional ABS in any variant, we started cracking our knuckles wondering how effectively would the GO perform this test. So after touching the 100 km/hr mark, we had to brake hard, which is not easy and definitely not recommended in an open environment. We hit the brakes hard and without any drama the GO sheds speed, thanks to the ventilated discs up front. The brake pedal feedback is positive and predictable and the brakes don’t lock up easily, it’s only when you stand on the brakes hard. With better heat dissipation, the Datsun GO has the shortest stopping distance of 33 metres in its segment. Crisp acceleration and strong braking performance helps in less fatigue for long distance driving, as the car feels effortless to drive.
The Datsun GO offers mature driving dynamics usually found in a higher segment of cars
To test the handling and steering response of the GO, there was a slalom course lined up. While the handling of the car is sharp and agile, the body roll is quite pronounced thanks to the long travel suspension. For extra comfort and agility on Indian roads, the manufacturer has worked on the suspension comprehensively. The Datsun GO comes with double pivoted lower arm front suspension and torsion beam at the rear. Nissan claims that they have used the same suspension technology in the GO, which is generally used in their luxury brand cars, Infiniti. With 170 mm of ground clearance, they have used a long travel suspension with high response linear dampers that cushions the rough roads and at the same time provide good high speed stability.
The Nissan test track also has varying patches of road conditions in India to test the ride quality of a car. We were not surprised by the performance of the GO on that course because we already had experienced the relaxed ride quality of the hatchback on different surfaces. The ride is pliant and it doesn’t pitch and squat around like its rivals. All in all, the Datsun GO is a well engineered car at this price point that offers serious performance and dynamics of a mature car. Of course there are some drawbacks of the GO such as poor NVH, lack of dampening materials, no safety features, skinny tyres, no conventional music system, missing glove box lid and so on. On the flip side, the GO offers mature styling, space, easy manoeuvrability and driving characteristics that are unmatched in this segment. The carmaker just needs to increase the brand awareness so as to get more footfalls and trust in the new badge, which is an uphill battle. Currently, the Datsun GO is available at only 31 dealerships across the country. With the upcoming Datsun GO+ MPV, we expect more dealerships in the near future.
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