IT’S not very often that we see a new automotive manufacturer enter our market, let alone one that revives itself. I was recently at the launch of Datsun’s Go, a new model from the Nissan stable, aimed straight at the younger generation. The Datsun brand is well-known locally but this more youthful revival compared with the conservative products of the 60s and 70s, certainly means the brand has a new consumer base in mind.
Unique selling proposition
It’s difficult to bring up the Go without mentioning the price. You can set off to one of the brand’s 44 dealerships across the country and leave with a brand-new car for R89 500 (without power steering) and in these trying times, this is quite astonishing. Even the better-equipped Lux model comes in at R99 500, which includes power steering. This opens the brand up to a whole new segment of young, first-time buyers
There are some problems with the car though, as the low price does not include ABS brakes or an airbag, in either model. Now some will say that many Citi Golf models were and indeed continue to be used on our roads without these items. However, I feel that it should be an option that the consumer can choose to pay for. A parent who’s looking at the Go for their child, I’m sure would want these basic safety items.
The oily bits
The 1.2-litre three-cylinder produces 50kW/104Nm and is mated to a five-speed manual transmission. Its 1 152kg mass means that it’s a decent car to pilot in the urban environment with fuel consumption figures of 5.2 litres/100km. Our test drive route through the city showed that the Go is a good commuter car with well-matched gear ratios and a nippy motor.
The Go is a decent looking little car with a prominent grille that houses a rather large Datsun badge in the centre. There are also sharp headlights with a bumper that integrates with the lower air intakes. The side profile flows towards the tailgate above the rear lights in typical modern small-hatch fashion. There are 13-inch wheels as standard and a range of five colours, namely: sky blue, white, grey, silver and ruby. It’s a compact car with an overall length of 3 785mm, a wheelbase of 2 450mm, a height of 1 485mm and 1 635mm wide. Datsun also made a noise about its ground clearance of 170mm which is said to help with our pothole-ridden roads and the occasional kerb hop.
The interior can be described as basic and functional. There’s a three-spoke steering wheel and single instrument cluster with white and blue colouring for the speedometer, tachometer, gear shift guide and drive computer, including trip and fuel consumption meters.
The gear lever and push/pull-style parking brake handle are mounted in the centre console. This means that there is no visible transmission tunnel and the front seat is a one-piece unit that allows you to switch from the passenger seat to the driver’s seat easily, should that need arise.
The front is quite roomy with decent head, leg and shoulder room, while the rear is comparable to the likes of the Honda Brio and Mitsubishi Mirage. The boot is quite large though with 265 litres of luggage space.
The Go comes with a Mobile Docking Station (MDS) in the centre console that allows an owner to sync his or her smartphone directly with the car. This gives you access to your phone’s satellite navigation, hands-free telephone, USB charging, music player and radio via the AUX input. This is something that the younger generation will find appealing while those who want a traditional audio system can specify that at a dealer level.
The owner can also specify a range of options that range from boot spoilers, to exhaust tips, sticker kits and bigger alloy wheels, branded seat covers, chrome fittings as well as roof rails.
Warranty and maintenance
The Go comes with a three-year 100 000km warranty with roadside assistance, while a service plan will come at an additional cost. The McKinsey Report, which assesses cost of car ownership based on a basket of parts for each model, has revealed that the Go will be affordable in terms of servicing and parts.