Datsun Go driving review

With no airbags or ABS the Datsun Go might see people opt for something else

Datsun is back with a bang in South Africa following the recent local launch of the Datsun Go that took place in Johannesburg this week. Datsun (which is part of Nissan) has launched one vehicle in the hopes that this vehicle will relive the Datsun brand in the country, but will it?

The Datsun Go is the first redesigned Datsun vehicle to take to Africa’s roads since the early 1980’s. However, this was not just any other car launch, one could notice that it was not all about the car, but the company was also launching (or re-launching) the brand as well.


Datsun concentrated on the target market (or what they presume the biggest market for this car will be) – the ‘’risers’’- young South Africans, dressed like hipsters with no official 9-5 job, young entrepreneurs, people Datsun see as ‘’rising’’ first-time buyers.

This car is an affordable car (an entry price of just R89 500) with all the necessities of bringing someone from point A to point B, but without the very expensive costs.

What about the Go?

The Datsun runs on a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder engine (same as the Nissan Micra platform) and the five- speed manual Datsun GO- weighs in at 1 152 kgs. It is powered by a DOHC 12-valve, three cylinder, fuel injected petrol engine. It produces a maximum power of 50 kW with a respectable 104 N.m of torque.  Fuel economy is 5.2 litres/100 km.

The car’s exterior design is very simple and clean with the Datsun logo very distinctively placed. The large fully integrated three dimensional headlight assemblies flank the streamlined bonnet. They also accentuate the starting point for strong shoulder lines which run from the front wings to midway through the rear door. The side window outline features stylised ‘brackets’ at either end, establishing a distinctive styling cue.

The car is more stable on the road than I thought it would be and it handles challenging road surfaces with aplomb – a plus in South Africa with its mix of high-speed freeways and highways, secondary and crowded urban roads. One of the advantages of the car’s height is that it has a commanding driving position. The driver therefore has a better view of the road and surroundings than is available in other entry-level cars, which tend to be considerably lower. With a higher ground clearance like the Suzuki DZire, the car can comfortably move over rigid roads.

The interior design is functional but different. The front seats are moulded into one seat which makes the fact that the gear lever and parking brake handle are mounted in the centre console not so strange. Its 265 litres of luggage volume is surprisingly best in the class.

The features of the Datsun Go are what got me asking questions, though. The new Datsun has many features to choose from such as electric power steering (EPS), Intelligent Wiping System (IWS), Mobile Docking Station (MDS), leather feel cabin materials etc. However, the car does not have airbags or ABS – not even as optional – which may pose problems for some buyers. Safety features however include effective ventilated front disc brakes for shorter stopping distances and best in class lighting performance. This wouldn’t be top of my list for safety features.

The Datsun Go is an affordable car aimed at a first-time buyer, but you should ask yourself – is affordability always the best option, even if you have to give up necessities such as safety? Not to say that this car is unsafe or not a good option. It is backed by a huge manufacturer with dealers and service centres all over South Africa. If you need a car to manoeuvre around in the city and this fits your budget – then yes, this car is for you…the first time buyer. However if you have other needs (eg. safety), then you may want to opt for one of its competitors.


R89 500 for the Mid Model and R99 500 for the Lux Model.

A three-year 100 000 km warranty with roadside assistance comes as standard, and owners can choose a range of service and maintenance plans to suit their needs.