The Datsun Go marks the return of the Datsun marque after a 30-year absence. Like Dacia, Datsun is conceived to be the budget alternative to its established parent brand.
But unlike Dacia, Datsun is targeted at emerging markets such as India, where it is just about to go on sale.
The Go’s styling is inoffensive, and the diamond-shaped grille, the angular, peeled-back headlamps and its attractive lines have a certain appeal. It's clear that the designers have tried hard to keep it from looking too basic, even if the skinny 13in wheels look woefully small in those big arches.
Under the bonnet is a 67bhp 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol motor that's similar to that found in the Nissan Micra. It makes slightly less power than in the Nissan, but then again, the Datsun Go isn't that heavy.
The Go measures 3785mm long and 1635mm wide and has a wheelbase of 2450mm. Compare that to the Suzuki Alto which is 3580mm long, 1680mm wide and has a 2,360mm wheelbase and you can see how much more car is offered for the money.
The Datsun Go won't come with ABS and there aren't any airbags either. In fact, even basic safety equipment is missing – the rear windshield doesn't get a demister and there's no wiper, either.
It's the car's light kerb weight that makes it such a peppy performer.
It responds to light taps on the throttle eagerly and is happy pulling away from low engine speeds in high gear. The mid-range is strong and it's only when you get to around 4000rpm that it gets thrummy. The responsive nature of the engine makes it really easy to drive around the city – you can stick it in third gear and potter around town all day. The five-speed manual is also light and the clutch is progressive enough.
Push the engine hard and it will easily propel the Datsun Go to triple-digit speeds. Our testing equipment shows that it will get from rest to 62mph in 15sec and you can easily cruise at those speeds with minimum fuss.
The downsides? Well, there’s a bit of vibration from the three-cylinder engine at idle, but that's it. It smoothens out when you rev it, and also quietens down when you are cruising.
Around town, the ride is quite supple but there is an underlying firmness. Bigger bumps thump through but it has a big-car feel in the way it tackles bad roads. Less impressive is the way the suspension and road noise filters into the cabin, especially on coarse surfaces. Evidence of being built to a price is apparent by the lack of sound proofing in the wheel wells.