When hearing the word Datsun, I am taken back to my childhood and the memories of classic old vehicles that were supremely popular during my youth. Now, Datsun has made a major comeback, and the image that I see in comparison to what is in my memory is startling, impressive and innovative, to say the least. This week I popped in at the AutoCity Datsun Nigel Dealership (Kerk Street, Nigel), to get to know the team working so hard to provide the local community with high quality vehicles.
Johan Van Heerden, General Manager of Autocity group believes that people tend to run to the big cities when they want to look at vehicles as they assume to see a wider range of vehicles; the truth of the matter is, however, that good deals, good quality products and fantastic service is available right on your doorstep in Nigel as well. By bringing the city to the people, the AutoCity group offers their local community the same wide range of vehicles you would find elsewhere. In fact, Johann’s impression of the Datsun is that it is well worth the money and can stand it’s ground against any other small car on the market. As great value for money (proven by the extensive sales numbers for this vehicle), the legendary Datsun badge simply needed to be dusted off, as Datsun is back with a vengeance.
First meeting with Chris Strydom, the Dealer Principal for both AutoCity Nissan Nigel and Datsun Nigel, I learned that he came to the motoring industry fourteen years ago from the Financial Industry, and has now been with this dealership for a little over two years. With a smile he tells me that he is “old school”, having come from a history of Datsun owners (his grandfather having had numerous performance Datsun SSS’s that he was fascinated with in his childhood). Now proud to represent both the Nissan and Datsun brands, Chris believes that the Datsun brand provides great products with great features, at great prices.
When asked what his take is on customer service, Chris responded that he puts the customer first: he is not satisfied unless his customer is satisfied. Being passionate about leading his team to success, Chris values team spirit and working hard together. This has clearly paid off as the Dealership had a record year in 2017, doubling it’s sales from the difficult position it was in two years ago. With a New and Used Car division, this AutoCity Dealership also boasts a superb after-sales team.
Introducing me to Sales Manager De Wet Pretorius, Chris tells me that under De Wet’s leadership, the sales team are doing a sterling job. With 24 years of experience in the motoring industry, De Wet candidly notes that his passion lies with working with people; seeing people happy and excited to purchase a vehicle is what keeps him going. De Wet also believes he has a broad understanding of the product and the customers who seek the Datsun and Nissan products out, and can then cater to them for their unique needs. Wanting to see smiling customers leave, De Wet’s theory of “many happy smiles” is what brings referrals back for more. With major safety improvements made to the Datsun GO in the last while, De Wet also believes that the brand and it’s products are growing from strength to strength (with Datsun South Africa reporting nearly 500 units sold last month alone). I am charmed by the statement De Wet makes regarding his very special AutoCity sales team, saying that the team is comprised of an ideal mix of smart and socially adept individuals who come from the local community, and are often requested by name.
One such Sales Consultant (or sales Representative) is André Fouché, who has been in motoring for 8 years and has found his “happy place” in this Dealership. Noting that seeing people happy, which is most often the case coming in, and out of, this dealership, is what motivates him. He laughs off any insinuation of moving to management, noting that sales is where he feels alive – the thrill and excitement of working with unique individuals daily is what he loves to do. André believes very strongly in honesty and transparency when it comes to his customers, and as a result, feels that it is vitally important for people to understand that Datsun is a new and innovative concept, not the same vehicles from the past. Although still capitalising on the reliability and affordability of the Datsun legacy, the Datsun’s of today are brand new from the ground up.
Showing me a unique version of the Datsun GO, the Datsun GO Flash, André tells me with a grin that this is the slightly “pimped up” version of the GO Lux. The Datsun GO is available in the Lux and Flash variants, as well as the Datsun GO Plus (which is a seven-seater) and the Panel Van, which André notes is currently the most affordable panel van on the market and is ideal for small businesses. The price of the Datsun GO is, without a doubt, the biggest selling point of this vehicle. Starting at R132 900, the Datsun GO has made a name for itself as the ideal first-time-buyer car for this exact reason. Beating its competition hands-down in terms of affordability (a fact I knew ahead of time), I was eager to see if the vehicle lives up to its reputation. With charming good looks (and a stand-out, unique Datsun grille), the GO is compact, modern and robust. Quite popular in the powder blue finish, the GO is not unpleasant to look at it with its sculpted front fenders and cheeky headlight design.
The interior is characterised by simplicity; with clean lines, clear and ergonomic dashboard design and minimal clutter, the GO has silver accents to enhance its looks. With soft-touch leather-grain finishing, a lot of effort has gone into making the cockpit look, and feel, classy. Seating is quite comfortable (based on a low-fatigue design). For a compact vehicle, space is adequate, although cramming three adults in the back would not be advisable – for a big guy like André, fitting into the Datsun go is easy in comparison to some other small cars in this segment where he is quite cramped. André notes that this vehicle is ideal for students, young professionals or even starter-families; the head and leg room is sufficient, and the boot space would serve even pensioners well, with enough loading space for groceries, and medium sized bags or boxes.
“Staying plugged into your digital life” is the slogan for the GO and the nod to modernity is emphasised in the manufacturer’s conscientious inclusion of technology and connectivity into the design. With an on-board docking station for your smartphone and brilliant extra features such as the “follow me home” system that provides lighting for you as you exit the vehicle and walk away, the GO has been designed to make your life easier. Although a touch-screen and Bluetooth connectivity is not included, for this price range (and the features available that still enable to you connect your audio device for music) this is quite sufficient. Boasting intelligent wipers, power steering and long-range headlamps, the importance of driver comfort and safety is emphasised in the design of the vehicle. A driver’s airbag is standard, and whilst you may add-on additional airbags, the limit on further safety features is somewhat of a downer in this vehicle – there is ABS braking at the very least. On the plus side, the well-insulated cabin means road noise is minimal, and for the price-range the GO is marketed at, these standard features are not too bad.
A nippy, energetic drive (which quite impressed me on take-off), the Datsun is exceptionally easy to manoeuvre and delightful to drive. André noted that the power to weight ratio is responsible for the perky take off (with 50kW and 104 Nm output) the little GO gets going really quickly. One of the biggest drawcards for this vehicle is its remarkably low fuel consumption. Thanks to its snappy, eager 1200, 3-cylinder engine, the Datsun GO has been noted to achieve 5.2 litres per 100 kilometres on a combined cycle, which also means that keeping this vehicle up and running is low-cost too. To add to this, André notes that maintenance and services for the Datsun GO are very affordable and explains why so many Datsun GO vehicles are being sold: extremely popular with university students and first-time buyers, the GO is ranked as the most affordable small car on the market at present.
Back at the Dealership, I am delighted to hear that there are a few special planned for upcoming Workers Day and Freedom Day as well, and that the Dealership’s involvement in the community will continue to build the brand as well as serve the people locally.
For more information on this Dealership and their great pricing, please click on AutoCity Datsun Nigel Dealership
Journalist: Desh Bechan
Reporter: Inge Stols
Editor: Belinda Anderson