Datsun is finally back in South Africa. It was thirty three years ago the DATSUN badge was discontinued, but with the introduction of the new generation Datsun GO, a well segmented five door compact hatchback, suited for developing countries like India, Indonesia and Russia – south africa is another emerging market, of which Datsun is hoping to gain market share. For many a baby boomer generation, enamoured with models like the Blue Bird, SSS, 120Y and the 280ZX. Datsun represented, D: Durable, A: Attractive / Affordable, T: Trustworthy – vehicle. So will the “acronymical” icon appeal to current Generation Y and Z. Already the name, DATSUN, has made an impression on the market. Only a car enthusiast with a true understanding of its legacy will respect the simplicity of the new DATSUN GO and appreciate it for “just being a car.”
On the outside the Datsun badge might be the only thing that draws your attention to the car. The 13” tyres under such big wheel arches, look a bit out of place. There are almost zero safety features on the car, not even side impact beams or crumple zones. The GO is however economical to run and maintain. It has a 1.2L, fuel injected, three cylinder engine, matched to a five speed manual gearbox – deliver 50Kw at 5000RPM(it redlines at 5000RPM) and 104Nm of torque at 4000RPM. With a low urban driving fuel consumption of 5L/100Km and priced under R100 000 – Not very impressive stats, even for a first time buyer. But what you have to admire about this little car, is it has a lot of heart and really wants to impress you – especially when you are in the driver’s seat.
Off the line the Datsun GO, really goes. Hastily redlining at 5000RPM’s, a quick shift from 1st to 2nd gear with a bit of wheel spin, the GO’s tenacity is both delightful and unexpected. 3rd gear is sluggish at bottom-end so keep the rev’s mid-range and you will be picking off the smallest gaps as you nimbly dart between traffic. The breaking system is basic, but extremely responsive – the front ventilated disc, rear drum combo in any panic brake situation, will bring the GO’s 769kg little frame to a dramatic stop. Onto the open road, the GO is relentless; humming at 2000RPM and effortlessly maintaining the legal speed limit of 120Km/h.
There is no radio / front loader CD shuttle, (although an additional option). Only a standard fitted auxiliary, USB connection audio sound system – the USB is for “charge only.” So ensure you have an assortment of audio entertainment loaded onto you smartphone or iPod – because there’s isn’t much else going on in the cabin to amuse you. Although extremely compact, there are small storage compartments that give the interior some versatility. Upholstery finishes, are plain but comfortable. Although the passenger and driver’s seat can be independently adjusted, the front bench seat design is a bit “arb” looking – Like it was made to accommodate three persons, instead of a traditional driver passenger set up with distinctive individual bucket seats.
The Datsun GO is a budget car, “sorry there’s no other way of dressing it up,” which certainly may appeal to a first time buyer, an individual, (or individuals as the GO will easily accommodate 5 persons including the driver ) that need only commute very short distances. It can be added to a courier fleet or provide transport for an Article Clark running errands, dropping off legal documentation along with regular trips to the court house – “That’ll do GO, That’ll do.”