Japanese car maker Datsun was recently revived from its long absence by the Nissan group and the company launched a single model in India, the Datsun Go hatchback, which is a genuinely good little car. A good engine, decent space and innovative features like the ability to play music through your own phone (instead of having a dedicated audio player) gave this car what it needed to go toe-to-toe against its established rivals.
Releasing a stretched, MPV version of the Go is actually a logical step for Datsun to take and therefore, we now have the Datsun Go+. The whole idea was to keep the costs to as low an amount as possible and indeed, we estimate it to cost somewhere between INR 30,000 and INR 40,000 more than its hatch version. To get a first hand feel for this new vehicle, we needed to hit the roads and for that, we were taken all the way out to Rishikesh in Uttarakhand. This is a place that is steeped in Indian history, a place that has got astonishing scenic beauty and some fantastic ribbons of tarmac to boot.
First things first, changing the body style of any car is easy to get disastrously wrong. But clap eyes on the Go+ and you will see that it actually looks quite aesthetic. In fact, it looks bigger than its sub 4 metre length as well. From the front, the Go+ looks identical to the Go. However, the roofline gently tapers downwards after the rear door to meet the tailgate of the car, which is a smidgen over 200mm further behind than the one on the hatchback. One gripe would be that the tyres of the Go+, at 13 inches, look frustratingly small. However, the MPV body style has been integrated into the basic shape of the Go very well.
Step inside and you will see the dashboard, steering wheel, centre console, seats and gear lever have all been lifted straight out of the Go and plonked into the Go+. The glove box does not have a lid but despite the fact that we drove it pretty quickly and crashed into a couple of potholes (sorry, Datsun!), none of its contents came flying out at us. The front seats though, do give a good amount of comfort and there were no complaints of cramped muscles or stiff joints after a lengthy drive. The suspension setup has been tuned to handle the extra weight and performed also much better than expected, sponging out a lot of road imperfections really well. The refinement and ride quality of the Go+ is a step up from the Go hatchback..
Sitting in the middle row of the Go+ feels more airy than sitting in the back of the Go hatchback thanks to the additional space and windows at the back. The middle seat also folds flat and tips forward to allow access to the last row. The middle and last rows do not get inertia reel ELR seatbelts which retract when unbuckled but instead, they are provided with belts that have to be manually adjusted. The last row of seats is definitely not suitable for two adults due to the sloping roof and the fact that the floor is high, causing your knees to be near your face. Small kids, on the other hand, can use it without any issues. It is simply better to fold them flat and take the boot space up from 48 litres to 347 litres.
Datsun has equipped the Go+ with a good bunch of features such as an air conditioner, an audio system to which you can plug your phone via an aux cable and play the songs in your playlist (the phone itself can be held in place using the phone dock provided in the car), a 12 volt outlet, front power windows, follow-me-home headlights, speed sensitive electronic power steering, an engine immobiliser and so on. There is also a multi information display in the instrument binnacle that displays average and instantaneous fuel consumption, trip meter, fuel level, a digital tachometer, trip meter and the all important distance-to-empty readout.
Overall it feels roomy, there are some very nifty features and the suspension gives a pliant ride. Not to mention the 1.2 litre, 3 cylinder, 67 bhp petrol engine pulls the car reasonably well. Driving on a beautiful, level road flanked by the Rajaji National Park forest on one side and the Ganga river on the other, crossing 100 kph was no big deal at all. The engine has been tuned to haul the heavier Go+ and it has a fair reserve of low-end grunt as well. Also, since the clutch and steering are quite light, you do not feel fatigued on long drives. On the twisty roads in the foothills of the Himalayas, we found out that the Go+ coped really well with what anyone would generally encounter in the real world. The official fuel economy figure is 20.62 kpl, which is impressive for a petrol-powered MPV.
With a starting price of Rs 3.79 lakh, Datsun will surely stand to gain a lot from the Go+. The compact MPV segment has huge potential in the Indian automotive scene and this vehicle can also become popular as a second family car for scenarios like weekend getaways. It carries all the positives of the hatch and adds in more space and practicality to the recipe; which ultimately forms the bulk of its appeal.
Photography: Rajeev Bhendwal
Check out our Datsun Go+ Photo gallery