Introduction: As the auto industry today offers a variety of cars which cater to the needs of every kind of buyer out there, it becomes difficult for new car manufacturers like Datsun to offer a product which is not only competitive, but also offers something extra along with the usual package, and at the same time keeping a check on the price.
With Datsun brand, Nissan is looking at the mass segment of car buyers. 70% of the cars sold today in India are priced under Rs 5.5 lakhs, ex-showroom. They did launch a car in this price range earlier this year, the Go hatchback. But it did not perform as per expectations. Plus, the Global NCAP crash test result and the subsequent demand to withdraw the car from the market, added to the trouble of Datsun.
This was a major setback, but the management was sure that their car offered best in class active safety. Taking this as part of learning curve, Datsun India continues with their plans and are ready with their second car. Coming back to the 70% statistics, in this price range, you will find a range of hatchbacks and compact sedans, but not an MPV. This is where the Datsun’s second car, Go+ MPV comes in.
Exteriors: Based on the same platform as that of revamped Datsun’s first car, the Go hatchback, Go+ is not very different. Identical to the Datsun Go hatchback from the front, Datsun Go+ MPV gets a hexagonal grille which Datsun calls ‘D-Cut grille’, with a Datsun logo in the centre. Below the grille is integrated bumper with three air intakes. On either side of the grille you will find 3 dimensional headlight assembly.
Moving on to the side, emerging from its headlights are strong shoulder lines which run all the way to rear doors, where they merge with the broader shoulder lines which emerge from the tail-lights.
Image above shows the side and rear of Go hatchback and Go+MPV. You can see that up until the C Pillar, both cars are identical. It is post the C Pillar, where the Go+ gets its character. Longer than its hatchback variant by 210 mm, and taller by 5 mm, Go Plus is 3995 mm long and 1490 mm tall. Width, wheelbase and ground clearance remains same as Go hatch, at 1635 mm, 2450 mm, and 170 mm respectively.
Featuring same of 13 inch wheels, with 155/70 tubeless tyres, Go+ seems to have a longer suspension travel to take care of the added load (and probably this is the reason it is taller by 5 mm). This makes the wheel setup look even more disproportionate as compared to the Go hatchback. Other not so impressive points on the side are black plastic ORVMs and large body panel gaps.
Rear gets a slightly different treatment, as compared to the Go hatch. Here, the license plate is now incorporated into the tailgate, and not in the lower bumper as in the hatchback. Also, the MPV’s rear gets a more flatter finish, as compared to the slant finish in the Go hatch. Taillight structure remains same. You will also find Datsun logo on the centre of the rear hatch, and a Go+ logo on the right side.
Taking a peek at the under-body, you might find it hard to believe that it is of a passenger car. It looks more like that of some tempo/LCV/rickshaw which you might have noticed while looking for a lost cricket ball in your childhood. You will also notice that the spare wheel is no longer inside the boot, as in the Go hatch. It is now attached on the under-side of the boot. To remove the spare wheel, you will need to open a screw from the inside.
Headlights and taillights serve the purpose well. They provide decent illumination at night, and their structure also adds style to the overall look of the car. The rear hatch cannot be opened from the outside with a key, it has to be opened from the inside, from under the driver’s seat.
As in the Go hatch, the MPV’s windscreen also gets the same treatment – a single wiper blade. The front grille adds some style to the look, but ORVM looks like they do not belong to this car.
Overall, it is difficult to believe that the Go+ is actually a sub 4 meter car. The design and styling cues make the car look attractive, and also a little premium over rivals in the segment.
Interiors: Interiors are same as Datsun Go hatch. The same plastic panels, same colour combination, same materials, exactly same. There is absolutely nothing which differentiates the Go+ from the Go once you are in the driver’s seat. We had hoped Datsun India would have fixed small issues like adding cover to the cubbyholes, or changing the design of hand-brake. But no, the handbrake continues to irritate your left knee, to such an extent that it gets painful after a point. Same goes for the front passenger. His / her left knee gets the same treatment, thanks to the protruding power window button. Of course, this problem is subjective and entirely depends on your height.
Plastic on dashboard, or the door does not feel sturdy enough. A little push, or pull, and you can see the plastic bending or coming out of its place. Steering wheel too is made up of the same material and in no way feels good to hold. The position of the steering wheel is fixed. Somehow, the gearknob feels much better as compared to the other plastics inside. Horn is a delicate touch away, and is not very loud, which is a good thing.
The instrument cluster features speedometer in analogue display, while tachometer, fuel level, trip meter, gear shift indicator, tachometer, distance to empty and real time fuel efficiency via digital display. Centre dashboard features controls to air condition and a mobile stand with AUX support. As there is no music system in this car, you will have to rely on your phone for entertainment. The USB port is only for charging your device, and not to connect or play songs. Quality of music played from the speakers is not good.
On the dashboard, you will find enough places to store your belongings. For the front passenger, there is a cubbyhole above and below the dashboard, while for the driver, he/she will find a cubbyhole right behind the steering wheel. On the floor you will find mats with Go+ embossed.
Front door also has pockets to store water bottles, while read doors does not have this space. The doors feel very light, and do not give the feel of safety once you have locked yourself inside. The plastic mouldings on the doors also give away when a little pressure is applied. Rear doors do not get power windows. Once in the second row, it is difficult to access the window control. Door handles come in a weird shape, looking like a bottle opener.
Though the seats do offer comfort seating, the material is very rough. Even in the cold weather of Rishikesh, there was a feeling of uneasiness, I can only imagine what will happen during summers. The air-condition too might not be effective in hotter climate. There are no vents for second and third row passengers.
As seen in the Go hatch, Go+ also gets a dash mounted gear lever. This makes the front seat one large seat. Datsun says this adds to the convenience, we think it will mostly be used to seat a third passenger. This makes it unsafe as there are no seatbelts for third passenger. Legroom and headroom are in plenty for first and second row passengers.
It is in the third row where it gets uncomfortably cramped. There is no legroom, no headroom, and no shoulder room. Basically, there is no way an adult would voluntary want to sit in the third row.
Entry and exit is also not at all easy. To enter the third row, you will need to lower the second row seats completely, and then lift them up, placing them right behind the front row seats. In order to do this, you will need to un-hook the second row seats from both sides. Even when the second row seats are stashed behind the front row seats, there is not enough room for an adult to easily enter/exit third row of Datsun Go+. Also, when you are using the third row seat, there is no boot space. Technically, when the third row is up, boot space in Go+ stands at 48 litres.
But, when you lower the third row (which is exactly how this car is supposed to be used), you have a large boot space of 347 litres. In the image above, you can see the Go+ easily accommodating our picnic baskets, sleeping bags, picnic chairs, and some luggage.
Safety: This is where the Datsun Go takes a huge beating. The car lacks basic safety features like Airbags and ABS. These are not even offered as option. Considering the recent crash test report from Global NCAP where they demanded the removal of Go hatchback from the market, Datsun should have atleast offered the basic safety features as option.
Engine, Transmission and Mileage: Datsun Go+ is powered by the same 1.2l petrol 3 cylinder engine which powers the Go hatch (and also Micra with a higher tune). Generating 68 PS at 5,000 rpm and 104 Nm at 4,000 rpm, this engine delivers a claimed mileage of 20.62 kmpl. Transmission is taken care by a 5 speed manual gearbox which sends power to the front wheels. During our test drive, with five adults on board and some luggage, we managed to get a mileage of 13.5 kmpl, which is impressive for the terrain it was travelling on.
Driving the Datsun Go+ : The engine is responsive and does not feel under-powered. In fact, Datsun claims that for a car this proportion and weight, a 55-60 PS engine would have been sufficient. But they went ahead and tuned it for more power so as to please enthusiasts.
The engine tends to become noisy at higher rpm (relines at about 5,200 rpm) and this noise seeps into the cabin. NVH levels are not impressive as road noise starts seeping in from about 40 kmph. Gear shifts are effortless, but they do tend to get stuck midway especially while shifting from 3 to 4. Clutch travel too is longer than expected.
The car has a good acceleration and speed reaches into three digits without any effort. Cruising at speeds of about 120-130 kmph is no problem at all. What could be a problem is braking from those speeds. When loaded, the brakes do not have enough bite and the puny tires fail to bring the car to a stand still in an effective way. There is no ABS on offer, which is another disadvantage. Front tyres get disc brakes while rear gets drum.
Though an MPV, it weighs only 800 kgs. This in addition to an electronic steering wheel, makes the drive even lighter. What this robs you off is the steering feedback. There is absolutely no feedback from steering and it feels dead.
Over bumpy and patchy roads, the car behaves well, thanks to a stiffer suspension setup. Front gets Macpherson strut, while rear gets torsion beam setting. Compared to the Go hatchback, there is more body-roll.
Verdict: Very much like the Datsun Go hatchback, Go+ doesn’t make sense if you are looking it as a 7 seater. But, the minute you start considering it as a five seater with a large boot, you start realizing what a fantastic package it offers. Datsun says that the Go+ is more like a mini estate, and a not an outright MPV. In simple words, it is a large hatchback, which can also be used as a 7 seater, if needed.
Another USP of the Go+ will be its price. Expected to be launched at a price tag of around Rs 4 lakhs, the Go+ will give first time car buyers, who until now were only looking at hatchbacks and compact sedans, a real go at an MPV. Not only you can use it as your everyday car, but also as your weekend getaway vehicle for a Life+ experience with your friends and family. This, and the fantastic price, could well turn the Go+ as the first popular car for Datsun in India.
Techspecs and features on offer as per variant: