Datsun Go gets auto gearbox and traction control
Added driving convenience and grip for top-end Datsun Go, but it’s still no safer in a crash
The Go is famously the small hatch with which Datsun tries to tempt you away from Renault’s newly-updated Kwid.
The Go is the one with the better quality in fit and finish of materials, quieter operating mechanicals and it commands on average a R15k premium above its Kwid cousin.
But the coalition is a little complex. The Kwid with its frustrating foibles like shoddy build quality and a wheezy engine is the tinier of the two with a 3,679mm length and 2,422mm wheelbase. The Datsun is instead 3,788mm long with a more spacious 2,450mm wheelbase.
Before you get excited for the Datsun car, it can only fit 265l of cargo in its boot whereas the Kwid can swallow 620l because its rear seats can be folded while the Datsun’s sadly aren’t collapsible.
In the Datsun you get Android Auto & Apple Car Play, Google Maps, App Support, Voice Recognition, follow-me-home headlamps, dual airbags, ABS and EBD equipped brakes, front and rear power windows, remote key and power steering and 14-inch alloy wheels.
The Datsun also gets reverse parking sensors rather than a camera just to confound the comparison more.
The Go’s more premium perch has just been enhanced with the addition of a top model that’s equipped with a CVT automatic transmission for both the hatch and Go+ seven-seater MPV.
For added bragging rights and peace of mind in the face of the rudimentary safety of its cousin, the Datsun now also gets traction control.
Unlike the Kwid’s 1.0l three-cylinder engine, the Datsun is powered by a larger capacity, more tractable and refined 1.2l triple. Outputs are 57kW and 104Nm to the Kwid’s more modest 50kW and 94Nm of torque. The Datsun also boasts a ‘sport’ button on its gear-lever and deploying the mode won't see it slaying hot hatches on the roads with its 165km/h top speed but wind, engine and road noise concealment alongside good damping is better than I expected.
The five-step CVT transmission is largely a good match to the engine whether pootling in town where its self-shifting gears make for a more relaxed drive in heavy traffic conditions and taking full advantage of its small 4.6m turning circle.
It also motors satisfactorily on the highways and Datsun claims a paltry and believable 5l/100km average fuel consumption, which should please the target market.
The Datsun Go exceeded my admittedly low expectations concocted by its sub-par alliance cousin which I’d sampled barely 48 hours before. The Go is basic transport but unfortunately it’s only the well-heeled who can afford the range-topper with all these added safety features and convenience of an automatic gearbox.
The Go CVT will satisfy those who want the rare convenience of automated gear changes at this low end of the market, and the gearbox is far superior to the jerky automated manual transmission (AMT) of the Renault Kwid.
But the Datsun Go still carries the black mark of scoring very poorly in crash tests due to a dangerously crumpling bodyshell.
If crash-worthiness is a prime requirement then you should stay well clear of this Datsun as there are safer alternatives out there, though that hasn’t stopped the Go from becoming one of SA’s best selling cars based on cleverly engineered finance packages offered by Datsun, including free insurance for up to a year.
The new Datsun Go CVT costs R184,200 and the Go+ R194,800. Both come standard with a six-year/150,000km warranty.