Datsun has given its Go and Go+ a new lease of life recently with a face-lift that has completely revised their interiors. And now there is a new automatic model on offer as well. We go for a spin to sample the new transmission and updates.
The new safety norms have pushed Indian small cars into a completely new ball game. How else could you explain the presence of features such as airbags and anti-lock brakes in entry-level cars such as the Maruti Suzuki Alto 800 and Renault Kwid? I mean, not that it was completely impossible, but given the price sensitivity of our market, safety features have always taken a back seat to other convenience features. But things are changing. In fact, one car maker recently took a step further and offered a safety feature that was unheard of in the B1 segment. Yup, I am talking about traction control in Datsun’s recently updated Go and Go+ hatchbacks.
Datsun’s Go models have always been short on one aspect – offering an automatic model. And an automatic you must have these days, given how affordable two-pedal technology has become, which, consequently, has made automatic car sales go up considerably. Datsun India realised this and has been working on it. And, you know what they say, ‘better late than never’ – so, ladies and gentlemen, the new Datsun Go and Go+ CVT automatics are here to get your attention.
Under the hood
The Go and Go+ automatic continue to be powered by their manual counterpart’s 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine, which develops 76bhp @ 6,000rpm and 104Nm @ 4,400rpm. The only difference is that here the engine sends power to the wheels via a CVT automatic gearbox. This is in fact the same combination as the one in the Nissan Micra automatic.
In terms of driveability, though, for some reason, in D mode, acceleration seems to be more restrained than that in the Micra. While this may be in the interest of fuel efficiency, the powertrain does have higher NVH in the low to mid rev range. So, while the acceleration is smooth under linear throttle inputs, it doesn’t quite feel as smooth as that of the Micra automatic. In fact, it feels a bit coarse. Demand more power for overtaking, though, and you’ll feel the powertrain struggle, as the transmission suffers from rubber band effect. At this point, the engine feels even coarser. This will cause you to be more aggressive on the throttle, causing revs to shoot up to 4,000rpm the engine wails, as the transmission finally catches up and provides stronger acceleration.
Even in city traffic conditions, the Go CVT’s powertrain does have its limitations, unless its absolute smooth sailing or you’re driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic – both of which are ideal conditions to enjoy a smooth and easy drive.
It has a Sport mode!
Fortunately, its saving grace is that the CVT has Sport mode, which can be activated via a button on the driver’s side of the gear lever. Depress it, and the electronics ease off its reins on the transmission to allow it to rev more freely, causing the NVH to go down and making the engine dramatically less coarse. At this point, acceleration is quicker, and the car generally feels nicer to drive. Step on the pedal, and power delivery still has a noticeable lag, while the engine revs shoot to 4,000rpm and wait for the transmission to play catch up. But the whole process is now quicker, and you largely tend to enjoy driving the car more, as the part-throttle response is now much better.
Driving mannerisms of both the Go and Go+ models are very similar, and I’d go as far as to say that these cars are best suited for urban driving. For their light steering and limited high-speed performance combined with the soft suspension setup, which causes the car to wallow over high-speed road undulations along with a fair amount of body roll around high-speed bends, means that these cars aren’t ideal for long-distance highway trips.
But, then, at the end of the day, these cars were never built for highway drives. These are compact, affordable hatchbacks that bring Japanese durability to the table. The recent facelift has truly pushed their desirability quotient up several notches with better quality interior plastics and modern equipment, such as a touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The screen is wonderfully clear and has a matt finish to ensure that there’s absolutely no glare whatsoever. I just wish that the stereo’s sound quality was better and that USB port was not rather inconveniently tucked away under the gear lever housing – it’s quite tricky to access, especially with the handbrake engaged.
And therein lies the problem with the Datsun Go and Go+. Both these cars are quite aged now and their ergonomic flaws are quite evident – from the high-set nonadjustable steering wheel and a very tight third row in the Go+ to the lack of an external tailgate opener, these Datsuns have begun to show their vintage.
Nevertheless, Datsun has done a good job with this facelift – these cars have become more upmarket with their new snazzy allow wheels, better interiors, and more equipment. All this makes these cars more desirable, while the new automatic model takes the comfort and convenience factor up a notch or two.
- Datsun Go CVT / Go+ CVT
Engine: 1,198cc / 3-Cylinders / 12 valves / DOHC
Transmission: CVT / Front Wheel Drive
Power: 76bhp @ 6,000rpm
Torque: 104Nm @ 4,400rpm
X-factor: Only car in its segment to come with traction control!
• Infotainment system
• Automatic convenience
• Ergonomic flaws
Also read - Continuously Variable Transmission explained