Datsun Go now packs a lot into a tiny package
Impressive suppleness, eager little engine; I’d give it a go, seriously, writes Phuti Mpyane
Datsun’s new-generation Go sells great value-for-money, low running costs backed by scoring number 1 in the annual Kinsey parts basket 2015/2016 report, along with minimal emissions and fuel consumption.
What will also be clear before even giving it a whirl is the compact size and exterior design, which now boasts up-to-date, youth-baiting styling cues. The Datsun Go is offered with an inventory of stickers, bright colours, prominent daytime driving lights and optionally, a massive tailgate spoiler.
It’s also easy to like its qualitative interior design, surfaces and connectivity tech, the latter being the now de rigeur Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. From a features outlook, the car we spent all day driving at the media launch in Gauteng featured powered windows all round, air conditioning that successfully withstood the current heat wave, an entertainment system operated from a sizeable screen, a USB port, central locking that isn’t remotely activated, reverse sensors, and a fair amount of small storage space for storing loose items.
There are two body styles: a five-door, four-seat hatchback and a five-door seven-seater Go+ model. If you run a cargo carrier business, there is also a panel van version of the Go+ to choose from. However, the segment in which Go hatch competes in is choc-a-bloc with alternatives, including one from its alliance group in the form of Renault’s Kwid.
My first stint behind the wheel of the latest Datsun — credited with some 25,000-odd sales since local debut — was of a good and refined enough vehicle that convinced me to place anything it competes against on the backburner for now.
It’s easy to assume that the measure of its drive quality is largely the same as anything else in its niche. You’d be wrong. Surprisingly, it drives a lot better than the Renault Kwid, despite having about the same price.
It’s not a quick car, but I gather its customers don’t expect it to be. The urge from a 3-cylinder 1.2l engine that pumps out 50kW and 103Nm is ample enough for painless city driving and, though sceptical at first, during the drive between Soweto and Pretoria, the car proved itself not entirely bad for consideration for longer trips. There is no real struggle to maintain highway speeds and it’s exclusively available with a 5-speed manual gearbox.
The impressive pliancy of its suspension is notable. On the go, it exhibits good composure on smooth or imperfect surfaces, happily buzzing away on open roads without protest or much wind and road noise entering the cabin. As expected of some of its energetic customer profile, grow some horns and launch it at some bendy road sections and an unremarkable but safe, understeer-led reaction happens. This is easily cured by backing off the throttle.
Datsun pitches the Go as more aspirational than its Renault Kwid twin and thus the Go now features wider rubber, dual airbags and ABS brakes.
A Datsun Go is not going to return horrendous fuel-eating habits. The digital fuel consumption of the car I drove at the media launch returned about 5.5l/100km, 0.3 more than the official company claim and certifying that it’s not an expensive car to run. Add Kinsey’s survey results and servicing shouldn't be a burden too heavy to shoulder.
It’s not a bad looking car and although it has a slightly odd, pinched-nose front end, it’s not unattractive elsewhere.
Datsun GO Mid Spec: R144 500
Datsun GO Lux Spec: R165 500
Datsun GO+ 7-seater Mid: R154 200
Datsun GO+ 7-seater Lux: R175 900
Datsun GO+ Panel Van: R155 200
Datsun GO and GO+ models come with a standard 3-year/100,000km warranty and an optional service plan. In addition, consumers will receive one-year insurance with the purchase of a GO or GO+