Datsun Design Centre Visit
The Datsun redi-GO concept attracted a ton of attention at the 2014 Auto Expo

Nissan has 5 design centres in the world, two of them are based in Japan, others in US, UK & China

Nissan is one of the biggest automobile companies in the world and sells cars under three brands – Nissan, Infiniti and the recently resurrected Datsun. The automaker’s global design headquarters is located in Atsugi, Kanagawa which is southwest of Tokyo. The said facility is part of Nissan’s technical centre and was inaugurated in December 2006, serving as the central hub of design for the Yokohama headquartered automaker. Being such an important place for Nissan, it’s a top security location and thus cameras and mobile phones aren’t allowed inside. Even access to various rooms is restricted to even employees of the company. We had a chance to see the design process and also clay modelled the upcoming Datsun redi-GO.

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The GO marks the comeback of the historically significant Datsun brand

Nissan brought back the Datsun brand in 2014, restricting it to emerging markets like ours. The first launch was the GO in the same year, followed by the GO+ earlier this year while the redi-GO will be launched next year. Unlike the current Datsun models which are more rationale purchases, the upcoming redi-GO will serve a different audience as it’s a crossover which will appeal to a younger audience. The redi-GO will be a practical car like other Datsun models but will also offer style, attitude and a feel of adventure by being a true crossover and not a pseudo model. So you will get a high ground clearance but there won’t be faux elements like body mouldings or roof rails.

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Nissan’s Global Design Centre is the central hub for the automaker’s designs

The design process of a car is itself very extensive. Right from understanding the needs of the market, to making a concept to even colour selection, everything takes lots of hours and hard work. We went to the colour technology centre where we understood as to how and why the particular colours were selected for the GO. Even the interior scheme is carefully selected to fall in sync with the target buyer. The colour team gets research reports on colour trends from paint manufacturers and analyses the tastes of consumers to better understand their colour preference. It might seem easy and most might say ‘it is just a colour’ but there is a lot of science involved here.

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Yours truly trying his hands on clay modelling the Datsun redi-GO

One look at the redi-GO and you know Datsun has a big winner

A car design comes to life starting from a sketch, followed by digital modelling and then clay modelling is done. These clay models can vary in size and a full-sized model can also be made. A clay model gives the design team flexibility and paint wraps are also done on them to make them look as real as possible. We had a go on clay modelling the upcoming redi-GO and have to admit, it takes a lot of patience to get things right. There are a range of tools used for modelling the car. Once the design is finalised, the concept model is made and companies usually showcase the same (usually at motor shows) to receive feedback from the public. Based on the response, decisions are taken on whether the said vehicle goes into production. Again, before the car is made production ready, a lot of work happens on the vehicle including prototype development, testing, validation, etc.

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The tools used for doing vehicle clay modelling, quite a few of them

So in the case of the Datsun redi-GO concept which is the same model that was showcased at the 2014 Auto Expo, production is still a few months away. The concept model had tinted glasses but a sneak peak inside showed no interiors (there was half a cabin). The redi-GO in concept guise looks quite stunning and if Datsun manages to carry forward most of the design elements to production, they will definitely have the best looking car in the segment as the redi-GO is expected to be priced between the Rs. 3-4 lakh mark.

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The design sketch of the redi-GO concept, the car is a compact crossover

Datsun hasn’t confirmed when it will launch the redi-GO but as said earlier, one new model every year, puts the redi-GO’s launch date to 2016. Obviously the production model won’t get those large-sized sporty wheels, as smaller, practical and Indian road friendly higher profile rubber will take their place. Since the car is still in concept stage (or that’s what we have been made to believe), mandatory changes like conventional door handles, wipers and badging will be made. The platform underpinning the redi-GO will be the CMF-A which also does duty on the Renault Kwid, thus the same 800cc engine (54 PS and 72 Nm) is likely to power it.

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If the production spec redi-GO looks close to the concept, it will disrupt the segment

Looking at the terrific response to the Renault Kwid in the Indian market, the Datsun redi-GO is expected to perform brilliantly as well. One can expect similar features as the Kwid so a digital speedometer, touch-screen infotainment system and a light-weight frugal car is very likely. If Nissan gives the redi-GO the same package as the Kwid but with a design that looks as good as this, then the third Datsun model is sure to be a sure-shot hit. The Renault-Nissan alliance has surely decided that entry-level cars for the masses need not be bland or boring and that’s something we really appreciate.