Review | Datsun Go

Datsun Go front Quarter

This is the Datsun Go. I have looked at it, stood next to it, thought about it, and it becomes better looking the longer you look at it. Little subtle hints of attractiveness and aggression drew me to it. I get it. I really do and with that being said, off to the review then.

Styling & Interior

Pictures do not do it justice. Your eyes are forced to start at the big Datsun emblem on its nose, then to the angular headlights. Your eyes are then led to the side as it goes up, all the way back where it suddenly drops in a curve at the tail. There is just enough shiny bits, and nothing looks out of place, at least not until you get to the interior.

Datsun Go interior

The driver’s seat looks like a park bench, and the umbrella stick hand brake can throw you off a bit. It’s also very plain and very plastic, but oddly enough it works. There is no indication of cutting corners, or anything relating to poor workmanship. The positioning of the gear lever also seems odd, but it is actually perfect for traffic. You never have to move to far between adjusting the radio, or fiddling with the aircon settings.

Datsun Go Dials

The seating position was quite comfortable, however I felt restricted in movement, my knee ready to be chafed by the handbrake. It is clearly not meant for tall people, but it has enough legroom at the back to fit in without the need for some contortionist.

Mommy will be glad, because it has a rather sizable 265l boot. But the Datsun is aimed at young people, first car owners, kids who knows everything, which means mommy will not be glad, because the boot can hold a ton of dirty washing.

Datsun Go Bootspace

Driving

When I was shown the car I would be driving, I cringed. It looked like a 20 year old had his grubby hands all over it. Spoilers, bigger after market wheels, and a shiny exhaust tip destroyed the car. My biggest disappointment was the bigger wheels, because it would change the handling drastically.

When I eventually settled in and turned the key, an eager little rumble of a little 1.2l 3 cylinder greeted me, and it soon became apparent that the engine noise would be intrusive, which is good if you like your passengers to be silent.

Datsun Go Engine

The gears had to be worked. It was stiff, you had to take it out, and put it in to the next slot, and although I think it was mainly me, it felt like the slotting is uneven. I looked down several times to see where I was moving the stick.

On the main road things quickly changed. I was surprised by the punchiness off the engine. It’s not quick, but the revvy little buzzbox engine didn’t struggle to get you up to speed, and doesn’t seem to mind that you are in the wrong gear – one time I even expected a turbo to kick in.

The one clever thing Datsun have done, and it’s something more manufactures should consider, is the aircon. This aircon is electric, meaning it does not take any power from the engine.

Cornering. Well yes. I suppose it is because after market wheels were fitted. It felt good, not as well or as solid as the early Opel Corsa, but it was manageable. I would not call the body roll excessive, but it was noticeable, and I do suspect that if it were the standard sized wheels, it would have let go, and I would have worn it as a helmet.

Datsun Go line

I quite like the speed sensitive power steering. In layman’s terms, the faster you are going, the less sensitive to turning your steering becomes.

One thing that bothers me is the road noise. All cars have it, most are just a little more than background noise, while in the Datsun it sounds more like you are sitting on the wing, right behind the engine of a 747. There did not seem to be any unexplained rattles, except the odd thud from my knee bashing the handbrake lever. In the little time I drove it, two things became apparent very quickly. A) Its not built for the long road and B) I suspect it would thrive in traffic.

There are no ABS, no EBD, and no other acronym for braking and handling. Instead, it uses the tried and tested method of ventilated disks, or in other words, a dead standard disk like you find on the majority of the new vehicles, and by new I mean most cars since the 90’s

Safety

Each and every single review everyone addresses it. Datsun now offers airbags in their Lux model, but honestly speaking, it’s like when a fat lady falls on you. It will be soft and squishy, but you will still get hurt, and maybe, uhm, not be alive.

There are stories I have heard from one which hit a cow. Normally, the cow would die and leave a big mess while the A pillars and roof take and absorb the punch, leaving you alive. This one goes like this. Cow hits car, A pillars collapse, roof opens like sardine tin, driver has many thoughts about his existence.

Reviewers goes on to say that it is unacceptable for a car to have such a low (read 0) safety rating, I say its population control, or if that is too harsh, a way of ensuring you drive properly.

Specs

There are only two models available at this stage, and the main difference in price is for the driver side airbag. Both models are equiped with the same punchy  1.2l 3 cylinder 5 speed setup. 

Other

It has been named one of the most cost effective vehicles to own. It is has a wide variety of optional extras including leather seats, cosmetic  upgrades such as plastic strips and ironing-board like spoilers, a radio, because a docking station is fitted as standard, alloys and and and…

First in class features that’s quite clever is the Follow-Me-Home Headlights. Basically it stays on for a short while after the car is switched off, to give you some light as you get to where you need to be, or confuse you when you know you have turned them off, but they are still on.

Despite the fact that this car will not get the attention of the masses, and frankly the market share they are trying to get, it is a remarkable car. Yes there are a lot of things I don’t like, but I don’t hate them. It is indeed one of the very few cars that has a personality even when new.

Now in the beginning I said the price tag was impressive, but when I asked the sales rep for a full price, or a price that someone actually paid, a scary figure of R167,000 came up. Granted there were a lot of extras, but that puts me in a pickle, purely because it is essentially just a stripped down and reworked Nissan Micra.

I really want to like it, and I do, despite of what I just said, but even at the very base price, even before I have a radio, I can be looking at a demo something, one that would most likely have all the extra features as standard.  This sadly, is the real penny conscious world, and for that reason I will most likely look at the Micra, or any other competitor in this segment. Or I could just wait and get a demo model.

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Juan Loubser

I am an old fashioned 30 year balding, ham fisted egghead, with a love for mechanical engineering, Victorian era architecture. There was always something about cars, and up to this day I cannot put my finger on it, the easiest way to explain it would be to like it to something you just understand, you get it, you don’t know why or how, but it’s something you've understood all your life. With Torquesteer I have created a couple of Goals. One is to tour the little market town of Todmorden, England in a MG B roadster, and the Second is to do the US route 66 in true american muscle style. Driving a Tesla is also on the list.

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