Datsun ready to have another go in India’s entry level car market

With the aggressively priced Datsun Redigo, the first car on the Alliance's CMF-A platform from its side, Nissan hopes for success this time in attracting a good number of buyers.

Sumantra B Barooah By Sumantra B Barooah calendar 07 Jun 2016 Views icon6724 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
Datsun ready to have another go in India’s entry level car market

Datsun India today launched its third car – the entry level Redigo hatchback – at Rs 2.39 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). This is the pricing for the base D variant and goes up to Rs 3.34 lakh for the top-end S variant. The Redigo is available in five variants – D, A, T, T (O) and S. 

The company claims 32% lower maintenance costs for the Redigo against its main rivals Maruti Suzuki India and Hyundai Motor India, which includes labour and spare parts costs. For some components in the new Datsun model, the replacement interval may be longer than the same components in the Alto.

The Alto is not only the market leader in the hatchback segment currently, but is also the top-selling car in the country. The Redigo now undercuts both rivals – the Alto by Rs 10,000 and its sibling Renault Kwid by Rs 23,000.

Speaking at the Redigo launch today in Mumbai, Guillaume Sicard, president – Nissan India Operations, said, “With the Redigo, our focus is to provide an alternative option to customers in the entry level segment. It is a great value proposition with lower maintenance costs and higher fuel efficiency.”

The Datsun Redigo may be a small car, but it is the most important car for Nissan now, for it not only has the job to offer that first easy step for consumers to enter into the world of car ownership but also lead him/her into the world of Nissan.

Marketers turn to catchy terms to position a new car. So, the Redigo is positioned as an 'urban cross'. The rationale behind this phrase is that the Redigo is agile, as a city car should be, and has crossover qualities like high ground clearance and high driving position. At 185 mm (5mm more than the Kwid), the Redigo does have a class-leading ground clearance. It drives over bumps easily, but with four adults on board the bottom does lightly touch the speed bump. A new tall boy, the Redigo stands the tallest in its segment with a height of 1541mm.


The Redigo has a distinct design. One cannot make out that under the skin, it is the same car as the Kwid, unless told so. Designed in Japan, the Redigo has remained close to its concept. The 'D cut grille' tells it's a Datsun. The sharp crease on the sides and the curved vertical rear lights add to the distinct look. For an entry level car, the Redigo does look premium with other operational and design features like daytime running lights, faux scuff plate and chrome inserts. Nissan wants to build the aspiration factor for the Redigo as a strong pull for first-time car buyers.

The Redigo is powered by a 54hp, 799cc, 3-cylinder petrol engine, paired to a 5-speed manual gearbox. The engine is the same unit that powers the Kwid. Like the Kwid, the Redigo too claims a class-leading ARAI fuel-efficiency figure of 25.17kpl.

A few kilometres into the test drive last month, I found that the strengths of this small car are its interior space and road visibility. That is in line with the development goal of designing the car purely for city usage. The goal differs slightly from its sibling, the Renault Kwid which was designed for outside city use too.

That also explains the difference in the 0-100kph figures (claimed) between the two. It's 15.98 seconds for the Redigo and 16.87 seconds for the Kwid. But the engine does feel noisy, and one wishes the car had better noise insulation. The braking felt a bit spongy and wasn't very confidence-inspiring at high speed but Nissan says that the Redigo has the shortest 100-0kph braking distance of 32.3 metres.

The seats are well designed and cushioned. The seats' skeleton is the same as the Kwid's, but there's a difference in the design and padding. It doesn't have certain features of the Kwid such as a touch-screen navigation and infotainment system and digital speedometer. 

The touch-screen feature could make its way into the Redigo in the future, though. Nissan's engineers have taken frugality to a different level with many exposed metal parts in the interior of the Redigo. For customers who may find it an eye-sore, the carmaker is offering an accessory package to cover up. The Redigo gets five personalised kit options – Urban, Style, Kool, Easy Kit-enhance style and Easy Kit – comprising 50 accessories aimed at young and aspirational customers. 

Small car with big ambition
With the Datsun Redigo, Nissan wants to challenge market leader Maruti Suzuki again and break the 'tradition' that the huge majority of customers are so used to. It is a tall challenge, but the Kwid's successful entry is an encouragement of sorts for Nissan.

Even as the Redigo competes with the Alto, Nissan would hope that like the Alto that attributes like durability, low maintenance costs associated with Japanese lineage will also help the Redigo to gain customer confidence.

Unable to find much success with the Go hatchback or the Go+ MPV, the carmaker is banking on the Redigo to revive its sales figures in India. Moreover, Datsun is also looking at ramping up its dealership network to 300 outlets by March 2017, up from the current 217 outlets.

The aggressive entry price of Rs 2.39 lakh should give the Redigo some momentum in the market. The Kwid has proven that customers are ready to look beyond the Alto. Now, will the third offering under the Datsun brand in three years be third time lucky?

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