By: IOL Motoring Staff
For the first time in more than 30 years, South Africans can now buy a brand new Datsun.
After having phased out the historic nameplate in the early eighties, Nissan recently resurrected Datsun as a budget brand to slot beneath Nissan-badged models in certain cost-conscious markets, including our own.
Datsun's first modern product, the Go, 'goes' on sale in a week from now, on 20 October, with prices starting at just R89 500 for the basic 'Mid' model and R99 500 for the 'Lux' version.
A GOOD SIZE
The Go is built on the Nissan Micra platform and is roughly the same size, measuring 3785mm in length and 1635mm in width. It thus has the longest cabin in its class and boot space stands at a reasonable 265 litres.
Like many of our modern entry-level vehicles, the Go is built in India and was purpose-designed for challenging roads, the little model even boasting a class-leading ground clearance of 170mm.
It weighs just 788kg, easing the load on its 1.2-litre, 12-valve three-cylinder petrol engine, which focuses more on economy than outright speed, with outputs listed at 50kW and 104Nm. Datsun claims a combined fuel consumption figure of just 5.2 litres per 100km.
Inside you'll find bench-like seats that were “specially shaped to reduce fatigue” and what appears to be a 'suicide seat' between the front perches is, according to Datsun, not intended to be used as an extra seat but rather to keep your belongings close at hand.
As far as features go, the base 'Mid' model keeps things rather basic with air conditioning and a driving computer with consumption readouts being the only noteworthy luxuries.
For an extra ten grand the 'Lux' adds electric power steering, manual central locking and electric windows, while in place of a conventional radio it has a mobile docking station that allows you to sync your smartphone with the car and use its button controls and door-mounted speakers for your music and navigation.
LACKS SAFETY KIT
Of concern though is that critical safety features like airbags and ABS brakes are not fitted to any of the models. When asked whether such items would be fitted at some point in the future, Datsun General Manager Des Fenner could not confirm anything at this stage but did state that additional features would be added to the range as they became available from the factory abroad. Currently these safety features are not fitted to Indian models either.
Datsun's countrywide dealership network currently stands at 44 but the company aims to have 60 up and running by March 2015. The dealers will piggy-back on the Nissan network, with a mixture of dedicated and shared showroom set-ups. After-sales peace of mind comes in the form of a three-year/100 000km warranty and roadside assistance, while service and maintenance plans will be available as optional extras.
AIMED AT THE YOUTH
Summing up Datsun's brand positioning, Des Fenner said that the Go will be “a natural choice for younger, first time buyers or people looking for a vehicle that could be used as a comfortable, stylish and fuel efficient urban runabout.”
But what's it like at the wheel?
Look our for our driving impressions in the motoring section of The Star, Mercury or Cape Times this Thursday.
PRICES: DATSUN GO
1.2 Mid - R89 500
1.2 Lux - R99 500