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Datsun SA ready to Go with budget car

By: Jason Woosey

Rosslyn - Datsun has revealed its Go hatchback to South African media ahead of its local launch, which is scheduled for the fourth quarter of this year, and the new hatch is aiming to be a prime contender in the automotive bargain box.

The Datsun Go is set to hit SA streets during the fourth quarter of this year.Datsun SA is aiming to keep the price below R100 000.Not too much Go? The hatch is powered by a 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine that delivers 50kW and 104Nm.Datsun claims a fuel consumption figure of just under five litres per 100km.It will initially be sold through 30 Datsun-branded dealerships around the country, and Datsun hopes to expand that number to around 60 in the mid-term.The Datsun Go shares its 2450mm wheelbase with the Nissan Micra.Seating for five and a 265 litre boot.The Datsun Go has a mobile docking station for smartphones. No closing glovebox though.Expanded front seating and integrated headrests are an interesting touch.

So how exactly does the resurrected brand, now serving as a budget division of Nissan, plan to rise above the rest? For starters, there's an expected price tag of under R100 000 for a relatively roomy five-seat hatchback that shares its 2450mm wheelbase with the Nissan Micra.

The bigger question, though, is: how much ‘car’ will consumers be getting for that money?

The base model in India, where the Go is built, costs the equivalent of R56 540 but it is rather stark and lacks even the very basics such as painted bumpers, central locking, power steering, air conditioning, ABS and airbags. Sadly, even the range-topper lacks these two essential safety items.

Datsun SA's product manager Sonke Dandala told us local specifications would only be confirmed closer to launch, but that the local division was aiming towards a specification level that would suit local needs. We certainly hope that safety features are part of that local need.

One feature that Datsun SA has mentioned is the mobile docking station, which appears in place of a conventional radio. It allows the owner to plug-in and cradle a smartphone on the upper dashboard and then play music through the car's door-mounted speakers. Great thing for overseas consumers, but South Africans might not be so keen to place their phone within easy view of smash-and-grabbers.

ENOUGH GO?

Datsun SA has confirmed that local Go models will be fitted with a 1.2-litre engine. The Indian-market website lists outputs of 50kW at 5000rpm and 104Nm at 4000rpm, for the 1198cc, 12-valve three-cylinder petrol motor. Yet its most enticing figure is the claimed fuel consumption of just under five litres per 100km.

Datsun believes this car's appeal extends much further than just affordability and economy. In fact global boss Vincent Cobee promises that the Go will be a solid and competent product:

“In creating Datsun Go we have designed a brand new car that offers all the benefits of models that are much more expensive. Our car features class leading levels of performance, economy and handling. It is built to requirements and not down to a price. The addition of the many advanced features proves this.”

For those seeking some uniqueness, Datsun SA's general manager Des Fenner said that a full range of optional accessories would be available to allow local owners to personalise their car.

The Go will be available through an initial network of 30 Datsun-branded dealerships across South Africa and the company is aiming to double that number in the mid-term.

And no, we haven’t heard any news or rumours about a SSS version.

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