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Datsun is all set to re-enter the market on July 15 and the first cars are expected on the roads next year.

The Datsun finalized for India, which is codenamed the K2, would be based on the Nissan Micra platform. This includes the sharing of its 1.2-liter 3-cylinder engine, albeit in a different state of tune (possibly to squeeze out a higher fuel economy).

Front bench seat in a car

Bench seat seen on a car from the 1970s.

Datsun wants to ensure that the K2 is as spacious as it can get. To give you an example, the wheels of the car are pushed outward to their maximum extent, thereby liberating a few millimeters of shoulder room as the door structures can be pushed outward too.

Zigwheels reports that the K2 is likely to sport a bench like seat up front, capable of seating 3 people. The K2 would either feature a single bench (as seen on the yesteryear HM Ambassador) or there would be no pause between the driver and passenger seats (something like the Nissan Dayz which was launched in Japan).

Maybe Datsun is marketing them as emergency seats in case you’ve an additional person on a trip, for a relatively short distance. We’ve seen the same strategy on the Mahindra Quanto though it is absolutely unsafe.

Nissan DAYZ and DAYZ Highway STAR interior

The recently introduced Nissan DAYZ doesn’t get a bench but the front bucket seats stick to each other and the gear lever is mounted on the dashboard to improve knee room.

One of our sources had told us that Nissan intends to file a patent for a ‘new sort of front seats with a dash-mounted gearlever’.

If this turns out to be true, we think Nissan (Datsun) could have a valid point here. As the brand is looking forward to markets like Indonesia and Russia which bear similarity to the Indian market when it comes to car occupancy, Datsun could be starting a trend that was lost long ago.

Changing the perception people have for a bench seat at the front will prove to be a bit of a challenge and the question of safety for the middle occupant would also have to be addressed.

[Source - ZigWheels.com, Front bench seat image from Hemmings.com]

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I'm the assistant editor of IAB, a true-blooded petrolhead. Hope you enjoy our news stories, launch coverages, motorshow coverages and test drive reports.

  • GB

    Sure Sandy, When loaded with 3 passengers, there was a lot of scraping but again the inconvenience quotient would depend on the company, isn’t it?! ;)
    On a serious note, mishandling of levers exists either way. Indv. bucket sets risk the passenger pulling out the handbrake. Which is why Mercs have foot operated park brakes. Then there are these hill descent control gizmos. I love my hand brakes!!
    Check out the new VW bulley’s front seat arrangement. It might help u develop a liking. I also like the seating arrangements of the Fiat Multipla or the Honda FRV.
    Happy motoring!!

  • sandy

    Well bench seat was also there in Premier Padmini but it was not unsafe during those days, since there were handful of cars and handful of power n pickup in the car, Plus the gear stick was attached to the steering. Most driver gets confused in the midway on what gear he was driving or where is the next gear.
    But thinking of this configuration in todays time is like a taboo for most. Chevrolet Travera also have similar bench like bucket seats up front, don’t know how the driver would be managing during house full.

    • GB

      Sandy, bench type front seats could be of real convenience. The last I had it was in my Toyota Qualis. Though it only had a floor shift gear lever, the seats came in quite handy.
      In the advent of the sub 4m MPVs, bench type front seats are sure to make a comeback. Gear shift stick either on the dashboard or integrated in the steering column is going to be inconvenient which is why I think finally all the mess about the autobox would start to make sense. Autobox selectors placed on any 1 of these locations would make things a lot easier.

    • sandy

      @GB, but didn’t you find it inconvenient when the first bench was completely packed. One must be hitting his co-passenger’s thigh each time he shifts the gear, secondly if the gear shift is lifted to dashboard with autobox, then the floor would be free which could bring the tendency of co-passenger putting his/her foot accidentally on one of the pedal, as in case of Premier Padmini. And third thing, the direct A/C cooling won’t be reaching the rear passenger immediately unlike 2 piece bucket seat.