Johannesburg - Pay R3000 a month and take your chances on public transport or get behind the wheel of a Datsun Go. It’s really a no-brainer, especially now that the new upgraded Datsun Go has been launched, which is a marked improvement over the previous one.

You’ll recall that there was a lot of time and space given to the fact that without ABS or airbags the car was one of the most unsafe on our roads. I was one who raised an eyebrow on that, but speaking to people, their choice even then was between an ‘unsafe car’ or putting your life in the hands of a skorokoro, limited mobility and particularly (as a young woman) being tormented by those same taxi drivers to the point of abuse.

Later, Datsun introduced a driver’s airbag, but still...

The new Datsun Go is, to be fair, a big improvement over the outgoing model and even though it comes in more expensive, you get an honest car at a decent price.

The Datsun Go doesn’t pretend to be some grand tourer but is essentially a car for (mostly) young people to own a vehicle that gets them around in an affordable way without breaking the bank.

And Datsun has done a good job in the design and looks department without making the vehicle look like an obvious entry-level car.

The most important change has been the addition of ABS and an additional airbag on the passenger side, significantly increasing your chances of survival if things get out of control.

Datsun says it has as yet not done the crash tests for a safety rating.

Now you’re feeling a bit better before making a decision to purchase, so what does it look like? Not too bad actually. the front grille and bumpers have been redesigned, there’s a range of funky colours to chose from and the whole package stands on 14-inch wheels (while the LUX model has alloy rims).

Standard specs include colour-coded electric side mirrors, reverse parking sensors, intermittent wipers, central locking and an immobiliser. The Lux model gets daytime running lights, rear wiper and body colour door handles.

All models including the seven-seater Go+ and the panel van are powered by a 1.2 litre normally aspirated engine with 50kW and 104Nm.

Blistering acceleration isn’t part of the deal, but that’s not what the car’s purpose is. It needs a bit of stick to keep it in the correct rev range and once we got used to this, in and around the streets and highways of Joburg and Pretoria, it cruised around easily enough while the five speed manual gearbox proved to be another massive improvement over the previous model. Electric power steering ensures that parking bays are easily negotiated.

Inside too it’s almost unrecognisable with an attractively laid out dash that includes an 18cm touch-screen with Android Auto and Apple Car Play connectivity (standard during the launch period), Bluetooth and USB.

Standard too is air conditioning, which is just as well and worked a treat during last week’s Gauteng heatwave. The AC does obviously take away some power, but at least you have the option, something you don’t have if public transport is your mode of getting around.

The Datsun Go and Go+ models come with a standard three-year/100 000km warranty and an optional service plan. In addition, you receive one-year insurance with the purchase of a Go or Go+.

PRICES

Go 1.2 Mid Spec R144 500
Go 1.2 Lux Spec R165 500
Go+ 7-seater Mid R154 200
Go+ 7-seater Lux R175 900
Go+ Panel Van R155 200