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Auto blogMon, 15 Jul 2013 09:30:00 EST
In March of 2012, Nissan announced the return of its historic Datsun brand. Datsun used to represent the Nissan brand in a number of markets, but its badge hasn't been worn on a new model since 1981. In 2013, though, it has been relaunched as the Japanese manufacturer's budget offering in the emerging markets of India and Russia.
The model that will lead that charge, at least in India, is the Go, a car that pays tribute to the very first Datsun, the DAT-GO.
The operative term with the Datsun brand is: "budget offering." Don't step inside the Go and expect beautiful hides or brushed metals (it's being sold in India, after all). The instrument cluster features a simple speedometer, while the five-speed manual and the center stack above it are rather barren. It's not without luxuries, though, as iPod-style connectivity is available through a Mobile Docking Station.
You can add Fiat to the admittedly short list of automakers considering a low-cost brand to rival Dacia. The inexpensive Eastern European brand from Renault-Nissan has performed on the balance sheet like a premium model line, and the money the alliance is taking off the table is encouraging other players to deal themselves in. Pretty soon Nissan's Datsun sub-brand will join the Dacia party, going on sale in Russia, Indonesia and India and will claim even more rubles, rupiahs and rupees for the parent company. Volkswagen recently said it will make a decision this year on a budget line for the Chinese market. With the euthanasia of Lancia and plans to move the Fiat brand upmarket, company CEO Sergio Marchionne wonders aloud to Automotive News Europe whether there could be room for a new budget brand underneath Fiat.
We're told that the initiative has been in the idea box for five years and even moved to the stage of name considerations, like Innocenti, but worries about profit kept it from realization. If such a range were to be developed, Marchionne says it couldn't be built in Italy and stay within budget, and the company is "analyzing its manufacturing capacity outside of Europe to see if a low-cost brand is viable."
Those who were disappointed when Datsun changed its name to Nissan over three decades ago may have been pleased to see the marque revived last year, even as a budget brand. Nissan's counterpart to its ally Renault's Dacia budget brand, Datsun has been steadily expanding its lineup of low-cost transportation for developing markets with the debut of the Go hatchback in India, the Go+ minivan in Indonesia and the On-Do sedan in Russia. And now it has returned to Moscow to reveal its fourth model, the Mi-Do.
Based closely on the On-Do sedan (which itself is based on the Lada Granta) the Mi-Do takes on a five-door hatchback bodystyle but with no more frills. It uses the same front-drive chassis with the same wheelbase as the sedan, but its chopped tail makes it a good foot and a half shorter overall. Into that compact shape, Datsun has fitted dual airbags, ABS and... well, that's about it. It's got a 1.6-liter, eight-valve inline-four kicking out a grand total of 87 horsepower to either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. Bare bones, this is.
While delivery of the first On-Do sedans commences next month (with the first example going to an IT specialist in Omsk), the Mi-Do is set to begin delivery early next year. Scope out the video and press release below from the Mi-Do's reveal at the Moscow Motor Show.