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DRIVEN: Datsun makes refreshed GO more appealing with new dual airbags, ABS and loads of bells and whistles

2018-11-17 10:00

Janine Van der Post

datsun go

datsun go

Datsun used to be a household name in former years up until 1981 when the brand was phased out and it merged into Nissan globally. 

Then in 2013, the new Datsun was revealed in India and later made its way to South Africa in 2014, exactly 100 years after the DAT-Car was born in 1914.

There's been no looking back for the brand; since it's local relaunch, the automaker has sold 24 929 units, averaging about 509 Datsun Go units leaving showroom floors each month. 

And if you thought the Datsun Go is just an underdog in the industry, you'll be surprised to know that it makes up 1.6% of the total passenger car market and is #2 in the A-segment, representing 19% of the market.

There are 114 Datsun dealers nationwide and the Go is rated as #1 in the Kinsey parts basket for 2015/2016.

Of course, the Go wasn't given five stars, or any for that matter, in the Euro NCAP when it was first launched in 2013, for that matter, as basic safety features such as ABS and airbags were non-existent. However, with just under 25 000 units sold, local buyers did not seem too concerned.

Since then, the automaker has listened and improved the upgraded Go, significantly.

What's it like to drive?

The 1.2-litre engine is mated to a five-speed manual gearbox in both the Go and GO+ delivers 50kW/140Nm. Datsun says its combined fuel consumption is rated at 5.2-litres/100km.

So it might not rocket off line like a Mini Cooper S or a Suzuki Swift Sport, but it does rival the Kia Picanto and Renault Kwid. And while 50kW is not favourable in the highlands of Kromdraai, when put through its paces, it's more than sufficient for a daily drive or a small city-slicker.

It felt nippier down in Cape Town earlier in October when a handful of motoring journalists had a sneak peek at the Go prior to the launch this week in Pretoria. I'm keen to experience the vehicle down at the coast. 

With the temperature at 32C weather, the aircon on full blast and driving up high level ground in the North West of Joburg, naturally the little car would feel a bit under-powered. With that said though, it feels better behind thee wheel when driving. The fact that it's fitted with ABS, makes a huge difference in the car's driving dynamics, and also for driver confidence. 

The extra weight of the new airbags, ABS and other features, makes the car heavier, and making occupants feel safer at the time because the vehicle feels sturdier than before.


So what's new?

The new Go is just a better car. There are dual airbags, ABS, air conditioner, retractable seatbelts, electric power steering and even Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality. It even has a reverse parking sensor which beeps soundly. 

There are also larger 14" wheels while the top grade will feature alloys, as well as a full spare wheel. The centre-console mounted gear-lever and the front "love seat" which was sort of a tribute to the Datsun models of yesteryear, is no more. The gear lever has been moved between the two front seats (where it should've been) and the awkward double front seat is gone forever.

datsun go

There are now power windows all round, electric-adjustable side-mirrors, full dashboard and instrument cluster tweaks, central locking, and the addition of daytime running lights. There's even a reverse parking sensor.

In the previous model, you could only open the boot by pulling the lever inside the vehicle (located on the floor), the new model sports a boot lock/open.

Not only have the front and rear bumpers been redesigned, but the headlight cluster is new as well - also includes daytime running lights on the top-end versions. The front fenders are more sculpted, along with the redesigned honeycomb-style grille.

datsun go

Why would anyone want to drive a GO?

Datsun knows what young people have to go through just to become successful, whether it's studying, getting to your first job on time without having to take three to five taxis or waiting for a train that's never going to arrive at your station that day. The Go is supposed to be the answer to access to mobility to young, and old, says the automaker.

Kabelo Rabotho, Nissan South Africa Marketing Director, said: "We are focused on giving our customers the best service while providing high-quality vehicles that serve the needs of everyone; from first-time buyers to entrepreneurs and also senior citizens, who love our reliable cars."

Considering the outgoing model pricing started at R138 000, pricing for the new Go starts from R144 500. It is incredibly competitive with all of its new features making it extremely good value for money, along with its stylish new design, low cost of ownership and safety features. 

datsun go


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