Is Datsun’s first new model a GO or a no-GO?


Datsun is back.  We’ve know it’s coming for some time, but they’re officially here now with their one and only vehicle currently available in SA, called the GO.  Sadly, for those that remember the glory days of Datsun, this isn’t a SSS, and it isn’t a Datsun 1400 bakkie.  No, it’s a compact hatchback, priced as the cheapest vehicle in South Africa.

How cheap is cheap, exactly?  R89 500 for the entry spec Mid model, and the top spec Lux model is on offer is only R99 500.  It definitely seems to be priced right, but the GO’s spec and performance are bound to match its price.

Powering the GO is a 1.2-litre 3-cylinder engine developing 50kW @ 5000rpm and 104Nm @ 4000rpm.  The 3-pot drives the front wheels via a 5-speed manual transmission, and sips a claimed 5.2l/100km.  It’s not going to be particularly swift, but as a city runabout the little engine may be all you need.  Key to the design and overall engineering of the GO is a lightweight of around 780Kg.

The 3.785m long GO rides on skinny 155/70 profile tyres on 13-inch steel wheels.  The front wheels house disc brakes, whilst the rear gets drum brakes.  Most notably, the Datsun doesn’t offer ABS.  Nor does it offer airbags, ESC, or any other safety aids for that matter.  Even the Citi Golf – discontinued for its lack of safety measures – had a single driver airbag in its last days on sale.

On the inside, the GO looks to score big with styling and seating designed for ease of use.  The front ‘two’ seats are a bench setup, which Datsun claim make it safer to get into the vehicle from a kerb on a busy road – makes sense, doesn’t it.  It also packs a healthy 265 litres of luggage space in the boot.  Feature-wise, the GO is rather barren – featuring a mobile docking station infotainment setup for smartphone music and navigation as opposed to an onboard setup, follow-me home lights, and a 3-year/100 000km warranty with roadside assist.

Outside, the GO looks as one would expect a budget car to look – nothing special.  It’s not too vulgar though, with more than just a hint of the Nissan Micra’s best bits in the design.

Whilst the GO sits below the magical R100 000 mark, its bare specification and lack of safety features may be cause for concern amongst potential buyers.  Targeting the first time buyer, Datsun are hoping to lure those who want the bragging rights of buying a brand new car.  Whilst the price looks tempting, in this day and age a single airbag and some ABS should be standard fare – so for that we’re not sure if the new Datsun is a GO or a no-go.

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