Buying a new car is no longer about going to the only showroom in your city and going round the only model you could afford and then deciding on a thin choice of colours. It is much more complex than all this. Cars from all over the world have literally invaded our country and so a bit of homework is actually necessary.

We already own one car but you know how difficult that is for a family of two… at least one is perpetually left to struggle with the Ola or Uber options and on certain days it is certainly not a pleasant experience. So one fine day Specky, my wife, said, ‘Let’s GO for another car.’

‘I’m REDI,’ I said.

And then to make things easier for us, we started to talk about the three most important features in any car.

‘The design,’ said Specky, ‘because I wouldn’t really want to drive around in a care that resembles an egg or an orange!’

By the way, to help us decide on the validity of our parameters on buying a car, we thought the new Datsun Redi Go would be appropriate. ‘We hardly have a pre-conceived opinion on this car yet,’ I reasoned, and Specky agreed.

Therefore, we thought of basing our purchase decision on design, interiors, and economy.

Will we fall in love with the exterior of this car without driving it?

This new launch is, in fact, an A-segment hatchback with a bit of Japanese design jargon linked to it. I mean the car is based on Datsun’s ‘Yukan’ design language that stands for ‘bold’ in Japanese. So we downloaded a lot of pictures of this car and found the large swept-back headlamps, the chrome-infused hexagonal grille, the dual tone bumpers insinuating at its crossover credentials, and the raked windshield and the boomerang tail lamps somewhat impressive. It was on the company site that we learnt that this car has a high ground clearance of 185 mm.

So far we noticed nothing to make us uneasy and Specky even dared to call the Redi Go somewhat futuristic in appearance. ‘I love the bold aggressive lines as they make the external appearance alive with a renewed sense of expectations.’

I then pointed out to her a review I had read in The Hindu that mentioned that ‘the rear of the car looks quite ‘pinched’ and a bit odd’ and added, ‘The rear does look like the car was squatting on a rod and the impression has become permanent!’ I laughed but Specky gave me one of her seriously incisive looks and said, ‘That just makes it look rather accepting and full of humility, doesn’t it?’ Now when a spouse has an opinion, the husband can disagree but he might sound like he is intolerant towards an opinion that promotes freedom of speech and expression. Right? So I took the obvious option and kept quiet. After all, I have neither actually seen the car nor driven it… and we were just talking about it in a theoretical sort of way. I am sure that the rear isn’t as attractive as the front… but the front matter more anyway, doesn’t it?

There is more within… is more than a mere metaphor

Well, we scoured the reviews and the specs and were happy to discover that even though the expected price was within an affordable range, the interiors a lot of talk about. The entire list of desirables was present and this included central locking, powered rear windows, day-night internal rear view mirror and a vanity mirror, a large speedometer, digital tachometer with fuel gauge, average fuel economy, instant fuel economy, odd and trip readings, the Distance-To-Empty feature… ‘and even power windows and a driver-side airbag!’ exulted Specky.

She was obviously happy about all these features but, as luck would have it, I was the one to remark, ‘The audio-system doesn’t have a touch-screen.’

Expectedly, I got the same stern look again and I said hurriedly, ‘It’s fine. I’m happy with a CD and MP3 player, aux-in and USB connectivity dear.’ She did finally agree that Bluetooth connectivity would be sorely missed but added, ‘I think I can live with that.’

Well, so can I… so long as it has an average sounding audio system but an effective AC, I’m fine.

Economy is what is forever impressive

Come on, the Datsun Redi Go is a low-cost car and so I hardly need to write much on this feature. The expected pricing is supposed to be competitive with the Maruti Alto and the Renault Kwid and the pleasure of driving a brand that is known the world over is unbeatable.

Do other things matter?

There are a lot of other things that matter… for instance, what is the pan-India density of mechanics comfortable with maintaining this Datsun model. How many service stations do they have? How does the car behave when I am driving it within a city… or on a highway? Does the car remain stable at high speeds? Will I be able to accelerate fast enough or brake effectively and on time?

But then, in theory, the Datsun Redi Go has the Nissan-Renault Alliance and is ‘based on the same ‘CMF-A’ platform as the Renault Kwid and shares the exact same engine and transmission’, and the799 cc motor puts the 54 PS and 72 Nm to possibly take the car from 0-60 km/h with ease. The power and torque outputs are fine and the car allegedly gives 25.17 kmpl. But hey, I still need to drive the car to find all this, right?

Where would I want to test drive this car?

Hmmm… now this one isn’t as easy as it sounds. Specky said, ‘I’d want to drive long-distance in it, say, from Delhi to Jhansi in UP. Obviously to see if the car can bear the stress of moving from an urban to a rural setting.’

‘Why Jhansi?’ I asked.

‘Well, that’s because I’ll get to test the car on an expressway, on a normal highway, and on a stretch that is one giant pot-hole!’ I knew she was right because the stretch from Gwalior to Jhansi is a perpetual road-under-construction and large tracts are literally indistinguishable from the dry arid fields that surround it.

‘Nice suggestion,’ I said, taking a cue from her, ‘but I’d want to drive the car from Delhi to Leh and see how well the car behaves on a winding road and how smoothly it tackles steep stretches.’

The truth is that if we get to drive the Datsun Redi Go on both these distances, we just might emerge as drivers who appreciate fun, freedom, and confidence… obviously in the ultimate Urban Cross – Datsun Redi-GO – that informs us it has the capability of a crossover with the convenience of a hatchback.

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REDI to buy a new car? GO!

REDI to buy a new car? GO!

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Arvind Passey
02 June 2016