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Datsun GO & GO Plus CVT - First Drive Review

While rivals in the Go’s segment like the Tiago, WagonR, Celerio and The New Santro make use of the more cost-effective AMT Gearbox, Datsun has given the GO a CVT gearbox.

Photo Credit : Siddharth

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With the growing Traffic and Traffic jams and Cities, Car buyers are moving towards automatic transmissions. This trend has caught the eye of the manufacturers and most of the vehicles are now available with automatic options. AMT or Automated Manual Transmission is dominating the budget segment because of its affordability. But proper automatic transmissions like the CVT are slowly creeping into this segment. CVT stands for Continuous Variable Transmission, CVT is best for city driving and is quite efficient with fossil fuels. The Japanese Automotive Brand Datsun which is a part of Renault Nissan Alliance has now introduced an Automatic variant of its 5 seater Datsun GO Hatchback and 7 Seater Go plus. The alliance already has an AMT gearbox in its portfolio but they have chosen to go with CVT type gearbox. 

Datsun had updated the Go and Go Plus late last year that gave them a new lease on life. The update brought with it fresh styling, better interiors and more equipment like dual airbags, ABS, EBD, brake assist, seatbelt reminder and rear parking sensors were also made standard. And earlier this year, the carmaker also introduced the option of Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) on the top-spec variants of the Go and Go Plus, making them the most affordable cars in the country with this feature.

What is New with the GO CVT and GO Plus CVT?

The 68hp, 1.2-litre petrol engine powering the manual variants has been upgraded to 77hp for the CVT trims. There is a new 7” touchscreen unit that supports Android Auto and Apple Carplay. The GO CVT gets all-black interiors and the Go Plus gets beige and black interiors. The plastic quality is good with decent fit and finish. Our test cars did not have any squeaks or rattles. The door handles needed some effort to open though.

The Automatic Transmission 

While rivals in the Go’s segment like the Tiago, WagonR, Celerio and The New Santro make use of the more cost-effective AMT Gearbox, Datsun has given the GO a CVT gearbox. The CVT gearbox is proper autobox, offering an overall much smoother and more premium experience.

While the closest rival to the GO Plus is the Renault Triber which is yet to get an Automatic variant, an AMT unit will most probably come to the Triber. This also means GO Plus is the cheapest 7 Seater with an automatic gearbox.  

The CVT gearbox works very well in Traffic situation, being a proper automatic gearbox the creep function is not an exercise in guesswork and there are no jerks and the slushbox performs in a smooth manner. We noticed on part throttle inputs the CVT box performed the best. However, if you go pedal to the metal, the infamous rubber-band effect, typical of the CVTs raises its ugly head. Smash the accelerator and the RPM increases while it takes a good 2-3 secs to gain momentum. While this is characteristic of CVTs, the way around this is to drive part throttle or half throttle, when keeping a steady throttle input the CVT gearbox responds nicely and you can quickly gain momentum. 

Being present in the budget segment, The Datsun GO and GO plus CVT variants do not get paddle shifters, what they do get is a “Sport” mode. The small unmarked button on the gear lever activates the “Sport” mode. The gearbox holds the RPM in this mode, resulting in slightly peppy performance than in the normal mode. When pushed harder the engine is very audible inside the cabin because the CVT box revs up the engine to get the peak torque, Speed increase is gradual. A lot of road noise also filters into the cabin at higher speeds. 

Official fuel economy for the CVT variants is rated at a respectable 20.07kpl for the Go and 19.41kpl for the larger Go Plus. The 40kg increase in kerb weight across all variants has also resulted in a slight drop in efficiency figures for the manuals, from 19.83kpl to 19.72kpl.

Verdict

A light steering and compact dimensions of the Datsun GO make manoeuvring in tight spaces an easy task. The ride quality of both the cars is a bit firm but decent for the most part. Datsun has launched the Go and Go Plus automatics only in the top two variants – T and T(O) – with prices starting at Rs 5.94 lakh and Rs 6.58 lakh, respectively. Consequently, the CVT trims get features like vehicle dynamic control (VDC) and touchscreen infotainment system as standard, with the range-topping T(O) getting the addition of diamond cut alloy wheels and LED DRLs.

At this price, the Go and Go Plus are the most-affordable CVTs in the market, undercutting the likes of the Nissan Micra, Maruti Suzuki Baleno, Hyundai i20 and the Honda Jazz while providing a proper automatic gearbox when its direct rivals - Tiago, WagonR, Celerio and The New Santro only offer AMT gearboxes.



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