There is nothing more challenging than making a successful small car and while a cost-no-object supercar is intriguing making a small car is even more difficult. It has to meet cost targets, be very affordable yet also be good looking and having some features. Gone are the days when customers only cared about fuel economy and price as today they also care about styling and features. Plus making a small car is just the start as there is the big factor of a big sales network and massive promotions.
The newest entrant in the fiercely guarded small car space is the Datsun GO and it seems Datsun has painstakingly made sure that it has got everything with the GO. The GO promises good looks, low running costs, practicality plus the fact that it has been priced very competitively helps its case even further. However it has to compete with many rivals including the Maruti WagonR which despite its age has its appeal for its practicality but will that be enough to compete with the new kid on the block? Lets find out.
It starts off with an easy win for the Datsun GO as its pleasant design is what makes up a major chunk of its appeal. It looks premium and more expensive than it really is. The front is attractive with the Datsun chrome grille and big headlamps plus the curvacious rear also wins admirers. During our test the GO was greeted as a celerbrity with many people asking a lot about the car and also saying how they loved the styling.
While we are at it the small 13 inch wheels with 155/70 section tyres actually play spoilsport since the car feels too big for these puny tyres. The Datsun GO is available in four colours but we think it looks the best in the sky blue colour as seen here.
The WagonR on the other hand has been around for a longtime and though with recent facelifts the boxy looks has been reduced a bit, it still remains boxy looking and cannot match the GO but we think the WagonR looks better than its blinged up sibling the WagonR Stingray.
Step inside the GO and some clever packaging has been at work here with every space carefully used well. Storage is excellent (though the lidless glovebox is a disadvantage for sure) and thanks to the unique position of the handbrake and the dash mounted gearlever there is storage space between the front two passengers. The GO feels airy and quality is decent. The rear seats also offer good space and the 265 litres boot space is class best.
The WagonR on the other hand thanks to its boxy proportions is very easy to get in and out plus there is very good amounts of space and headroom is excellent at the back. The design of the interiors is simple but its showing its age now.
There has been a lot of talk regarding this in the Datsun GO and yes you do not get a conventional audio system but again fret not as its well priced accessories has them . Standard on the GO is something called the mobile docking station with USB charging, AUX cable where your smartphone is paired and it slots in the mobile/i-pod holder as well. ALong with that the GO has front power windows, power steering, AC it also has follow me home headlamp, distance to empty, average fuel economy, gear shift indicator, two speakers, accessory socket, speed sensitive wipers, accessory socket.
The top-end variant of the WagonR comes with an integrated music system, front/rear power windows, tilt steerin while standard is a digital fuel indicator with only the VXi and LXi getting features like 12v accessory socket, power steering, central locking etc.
The Datsun GO has a 1.2 three cylinder petrol engine with 67 bhp and a five-speed manual gearbox. Due to the fact that its very light, performance is easily the better of the two and it feels quick. Performance for a car of this class is just fantastic and you are surprised at how quick it feels. The gearbox is reasonably slick and with a good amount of torque you are not required to constantly downshift. The high-speed stability is excellent and the ride is also quite good.
The WagonR has the familiar 1.0 K Series engine and it just cannot match the GO but in isolation performance in city is decent and the excellent visibility coupled with light controls make it an easy drive but its nowhere as much fun or does it feel as quick as the GO. Both manage about 20 kmpl ARAI but we got 14 kmpl in the WagonR and 15 kmpl in the GO (avg FE).
The Datsun GO starts at Rs 3.12 lakh while the top-end variant is priced at Rs 3.69 lakh (ex-showroom) which is just fantastic value for money. The WagonR on the other hand starts at Rs 3.5 lakhs and goes all the way to Rs 4.37 lakh.
Yes the top-end WagonR is well equipped and its also very practical plus there is the massive Maruti service network but in the end the GO is simply the better deal. The GO looks great, offers very good performance and even after getting some 'essential' accessories is priced very well. Thus it wins this test. Datsun, its time to celebrate.
Photography- Rajeev Bhendwal