Till date Datsun has had a torrid run in what essentially is a market that is tailor made for the brand. Datsun’s have always been about giving you the maximum bang for your buck which we Indians love. Datsun with its first product, the GO offered just that, which along with having a spacious cabin, also had a punchy engine and was priced aggressively. But there were some elements of the GO which didn’t go down too well with us. Its stripped out cabin and unrefined nature was a big turn-off for most. The crash test controversy where the GO was labelled unsafe didn’t help matters either. The fact is the Datsun brand has good equity as an affordable brand globally and to set things right the second time around Datsun promises to deliver a more upmarket exterior and interior with the all-new Redigo.
In terms of design the Datsun has taken a modern approach and it looks angular and urban. At the front, the chiselled bumper and the signature Datsun hexagonal grille which blends in well with the angular headlamps make it look striking. When viewed in profile the sharp crease that runs along the bottom which tapers up and blend in with the tail-lamps gives it a sporty stance and helps to mask the tallboy design. The boomerang shaped tail lamps and the bulging tail-gate complete the well detailed look. Though the Redigo looks thoroughly modern, it lacks the stand-out character which the Kwid has in spades in the form of the mini-SUV stance.
Like the Kwid, the Redigo is based on the same, made for India CMF-A platform and it shares engine, gearbox, suspension and other bits with the Renault. But to differentiate the Redigo as a completely different car from the Kwid, Datsun has gone to great lengths and both on the inside and outside there are no similarities whatsoever. The body is all-new and the dimensions differ too. The Redigo is much more compact as compared to the Kwid – it is 150mm shorter and nearly 20mm narrower. To make most of the small footprint, Datsun has tried to use vertical space as a result it is much taller (73mm to be precise) than the Renault.
Once inside you are greeted by a modern looking dashboard which is finished in dull grey colour. The swooping design looks nice and the well-defined centre console with the integrated music system looks mature. The rectangular centre vent is quite unique, as it is non-adjustable and flow is always directed to the rear passengers. Although this helps cooling you can’t shut it which is quite irritating especially for the front passengers. This car was built with a price in mind and it shows. The exposed metal surface inside the front door pockets, pillars and other places looks crude and lets you know you are sitting in a budget hatch. Quality, fit and finish though decent is not as good as the Kwid either
Thanks to the high mounted seats, getting in and out of the Datsun Redigo is easy. The perched up driving position and the low dash gives you a fantastic view and what helps further is the tapering front window-line which help make you feel at home in the worst of traffic conditions. But tall drivers will find the seats placed too high and steering too low and as both are non-adjustable you just have to get used to it. Headroom too is in short supply and anyone more than six foot will have their heads brushing against the roof. What makes matter worse is the short seat travel, so for a tall driver, knee room is in short supply and the protruding centre console fouls with your left knee too. The thin seats though are quite comfortable with good back support but there is not much side bolstering to keep you in place while cornering. At the rear Datsun claims to have class leading space but on our measuring scale it proved otherwise as we got 40mm less kneeroom as compared to the the Renault Kwid. The space though is enough by class standards and the high mounted bench offers good under thigh support and the upright backrest felt comfortable too. The cabin though wider than the Kwid is still a bit narrow making it best for two in the back. In terms of practicality you get as many as nine storage spaces upfront which includes the tiny glove box, two large bottle holders and the thin door pads. But the rear passengers will feel shortchanged as there are absolutely no storage spaces except for the rear parcel tray.
As the Redigo is substantially shorter than the Kwid, Datsun had to compromise boot space too and its volume at 222litres is well short of the 300litres offered by the Renault. Apart from the small boot the high loading lip compromises ease of use further.
The Redigo is sold in five variants. While the base variant does without basics like air conditioning or power steering, the top-spec S variant we tested featured a music system with USB and Aux capability, front power windows and air conditioning system. Sadly features like tilt steering, height adjustable driver seat, central locking and keyless entry would have been welcomed. On the safety front you can only get the top S model with driver side airbag. The Redigo misses out on ABS altogether even as an option.
The Redigo uses the same 799cc three-pot 53bhp motor from the Kwid, as a result they drive and feel very similar. Refinement levels are not as good as the Kwid and there is load more engine and road noise seeping in the cabin. As it’s a three cylinder motor, at idle you can feel vibrations filter through especially through the steering and gear-lever. Things do get better as you pick up pace but it never feels vibe free. But when not in a hurry, the Redigo has enough verve to satisfy most first-time buyers, as it accelerates smoothly for such a small motor. But go above average city speeds and you realise that the engine doesn’t feel very peppy and low engine speed responses are mediocre, so this motor needs to be revved a bit to gain momentum. This also means out on the highway the motor doesn’t feel well suited for narrow two lane roads where overtaking grunt is in short supply. It gets thrummy when worked hard too and the motors lack of relative torque means you have to downshift more often than you would like to. The gearshift too is rubbery especially when shifting from second to third.
In our performance test the Redigo surprisingly posted slower times than the Renault Kwid. In the sprint to 100kmph from rest, the Datsun managed a time of 19.01 seconds. While in the in-gear test the Redigo returned figures of 17.98sec for the 20-80kmph third gear sprint and a leisurely 30.57sec for the 40-100kmph fourth gear run. Like the acceleration figures its top speed figure of 138kmph is mediocre too.
When a tall automobile has no anti-roll bars, the result is always going to be of a car which is not too adept at tackling corners. As a result the Redigo rolls excessively when cornered hard and the narrow tyres tend to lose grip quite easily. Even the steering has fair amount of play off-centre and the overtly light assistance tends to make the car a bit unnerving in quick directional changes. But when driven leisurely the Redigo feels safe and predictable and for in town use its perfect thanks to the compact dimensions, great visibility, short turning radius and light clutch.
The Redigo’s low speed ride really impressed us. The long travel suspension and high profile tyres help the Redigo gobble up the biggest of potholes with ease and the suspension doesn’t bottom out easily either. At higher speeds the ride does get bouncy over undulating surfaces but you don’t get thrown around too much. The brakes though are disappointing and you have to press them really hard for them to bite at which point they also tend to lockup. This is where we feel ABS is so important, as this car’s weedy 155 section tyres run out of grip easily.
Here lies Datsun’s trump card. Pricing for the Redigo starts at an unbelievable Rs 2.38 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). This makes it not only cheaper than the Renault Kwid but it also undercuts the Maruti Alto 800 by Rs 7,000. This top S version will you set you back by Rs 3.34 lakh which makes it superb value.
The fuel efficiency is impressive too and it retuned 14.1 kmpl in the city and 18.3kmpl on the highway. So despite having a small 28 litre fuel tank, the Redigo has a decent range of 390km before you need to refuel.
Final Rating: 3.3/5
The Redigo, then, has quite a bit on offer especially to the young buyer who is on a budget. The modern exterior is appealing, the cabin has adequate space, low speed ride is excellent and the motor feels refined in the city too. Add the best in class 185mm ground clearance and the short 9.46m turning circle, then you get tiny a car that is tailor made for our urban environment. But where it has its strong points, the Redigo also has its vices. Leading the list here are the exposed metal parts in the cabin which make it look too budget, the driving ergonomics are not the ideal and it is down on some essential equipment too. But where Datsun has pulled an ace is in terms of the pricing. The Redigo is the most affordable hatch in its segment and this alone should get it lot more takers. This also allows Datsun to play the value card perfectly and hopefully bring the Datsun brand back on the Indian people’s radar.
Photos By Kapil Angane
|CAR NAME||Datsun Redigo|
|Displacement||3 cyls, 799cc|
|Valve gear||4 valves per cyl|
|Power||53.2bhp at 5678rpm|
|Torque||72Nm at 4386rpm|
|Power to weight||79.5bhp per tonne|
|Torque to weight||107.6Nm per tonne|
|CHASSIS & BODY|
|Type||Rack and pinion|
|Type of assist||Electric|
|CAR NAME||Datsun Redigo|
|PERFORMANCE & BRAKING|
|20-80kph in 3rd gear||17.98s|
|40-100kph in 4th gear||30.57s|
|Tank size||28 liters|
|Seat base length||490mm|
|Loading lip height||820mm|