Datsun Redi-Go AMT first drive review

Datsun Redi-Go AMT first drive review

We knew this was around the corner. The Datsun Redi-Go is based on the same platform as the Renault Kwid and gets the same drivetrain as well. So when Renault announced an AMT variant of the Kwid, it was only a matter of time before the Redi-Go followed suit. And here we are, stuck in peak hour traffic in the Redi-Go AMT. Now that’s not the most ideal situation to test most cars, but for this Redi-Go equipped with an automatic gearbox, it was just perfect. This is after all a city runabout, and not a grand tourer.

What’s new?

The gearbox, duh. No longer does the Redi-Go get the five-speed manual transmission, but in its stead is a five-speed automated manual transmission. It is the same one used in the Kwid, but it is tuned differently. And unlike the Kwid which gets a knob on the dash, this gets a more traditional lever sticking out of the floor. Also, this gets the option of a manual override, something that the Kwid misses out on. Now, instead of a tachometer, the tiny digital display nestled in the instrument cluster has a gear position indicator in its place.

What else?

Well, the only other change includes the addition of bluetooth connectivity to the entertainment system. It already had a USB and an AUX port (and the more traditional CD, FM, AM), but the addition of Bluetooth is welcome. But that’s about it, there are really no more changes made to the Redi-Go. The engine is the same, the interiors are the same and the car looks exactly the same from the outside. In fact, this automatic variant doesn’t even get different badging to distinguish it from the manual one.

How does it drive?

Well for starters, the engine is the same. It is a small one — a three-pot, 1-litre petrol engine that puts out 68PS and 91Nm. These figures are just about adequate, but considering how light the Redi-Go is, it feels sprightly. But what matters here is the ‘box. It is an AMT so you do get that head-toss motion every time it shifts up, something that is inherent to these units. However, it is noticeably less in the Redi-Go than its rivals. That said, the box seems to be set up for efficiency rather than peppiness. It sticks to a high gear whenever possible to keep efficiency up. This can get a bit unnerving especially under braking because the brakes lack feel, and there is no assistance from the engine while slowing down. On most cars, a firm shove to the accelerator pedal calls for a downshift, but unless you really floor it in the Redi-Go, you’re going to be picking up speed in the same gear. Nevertheless, put the pedal to the metal it in fifth, and it will quickly drop to third and accelerate, making a fair racket while doing so. Spend enough time in it and you will understand how the gearbox likes to behave and you will get smoother with your driving. Nevertheless, you do have the option to manually override the gearbox. There is a bit of lag when you call for a shift, but if you plan your overtakes well, it does give you a fair bit of control.

The lack of a tachometer prevented me from knowing exactly where the gearbox was comfortable shifting. However, what I can tell you is that this is not a car that likes to be hustled. It is most comfortable when it’s being fed part throttle, allowing it to shift comfortably at low revs and not straining the engine. Most Redi-Gos will be driven exactly in this manner while pottering around the city and for what it’s worth, it does that well. Overall, the gearbox works well for the task set out for it. At this price point, you cannot expect an expensive torque convertor and the AMT will suffice. We didn’t get a chance to test how the automatic affects fuel economy, but we will do so when we get the car for a longer test.

The Redi-Go is an absolute entry level car and makes no qualms about that fact. And to that end, it skimps on a lot of equipment. You only get a driver airbag, even in the top-of-the-line variant. ABS is absent. It has its quirks, like the boot can only be opened from inside the car and not outside. A dead pedal would have been a welcome addition, especially since the footwell has adequate room to accommodate one. Space in the rear seat is nothing to write home about, but it is a small car, and that is also, surprisingly, one of its highlights. The compact dimensions means it squeezes through the narrowest gaps in traffic and filters its way through with a lot of ease.

Verdict

There’s no doubt about the fact that it is going to be priced aggressively. With over 98 per cent localisation on the Redi-Go, Datsun can afford to push the pricing down to cutthroat levels, even undercutting the already affordable Kwid by a fair margin. Nevertheless, as a product that aims to bring mobility to the masses, it has fair bit of appeal to it. It isn’t a car that you buy to go fast in, or even to feel special in — it is instead a product for someone looking for a convenient runabout on a tight budget. The automatic simply adds versatility and convenience to the package.

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