DRIVEN: New Datsun GO raises the bar

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Designed to create mobility for middleclass and appeal to millennials.

When Datsun reemerged in South Africa in 2014 after more than three decades out of the local car game, it wasn’t all plain sailing for their comeback model, called Go.

It started with a very bad safety rap, which was the result of a crash test score of zero rating and later led to the introduction of a single airbag in the top model.

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Although the car did remarkably well in terms of sales, with over 300 000 Go, Go+ and panel vans moved worldwide in four years, the safety cloud, as well as a very low spec set continued to follow the car like a shadow.

So during the launch of the new Go in Johannesburg last week, the onus was on Nissan to see how much they’d raised their game.

I’m happy to report, they’ve raised the bar on both the safety and spec fronts, unveiling a presentable little number.

And quite a pretty one, too.

The biggest improvement in terms of safety sees the addition of driver and passenger airbags and ABS across the entire range, while vehicle dynamic control will be introduced by next year.

The exterior sees redesigned front and rear bumpers, a D-cut honeycomb grille, LED daytime running lights, rear wiper with washer, 14-inch alloy wheels and reverse parking sensors.

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Another key feature is followme-home headlights that stay on after you exit the car to provide light as you walk to your door.

The timing can be set in intervals of 30 seconds to give you as much time as you might need.

Significant upgrades inside include a redesigned dashboard, individual seats replacing the bench, front and rear electric windows, electric-adjust mirrors and the handy addition of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Don’t expect miracles as the 1.2-litre engine produces a humble 50kW of power and 104Nm of torque. It probably won’t win many street races and you do need to rev the engine quite high to get the best out of it, but it’s still a solid offering in its class.

I doubt you’ll get the claimed 5.2l/100km in peak traffic, but the small engine should still be fuel efficient.

It handles decently and the Go should be a reliable everyday runaround car.

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The Go+ provides a nice alternative as a seven-seater and the panel van comes with obvious commercial benefits. All the current models come standard with a five-speed manual gearbox, with a CVT option in the pipeline for the next year.

Nissan has upped its appeal to first-time buyers looking for a better alternative to public transport.

And to state their case during the launch last Thursday, Nissan’s Mpumi set off from Maponya Mall in Soweto to Pretoria, using only pubic transport, at the same time as the convoy of media cars started its journey to the capital.

And it was point proven as the rest of the contingent was faster to the destination – and a lot less poorer – than the knackered Mpumi when she finally arrived.

According to Moeketsi Mapogo, Nissan South Africa’s product manager, the new Go is a “game changer”.

“It is the biggest car in the local A segment and it is even ready to compete now with the lower end of the B segment, taking all the additional features into consideration,” says Mapogo.

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“Just take the reverse parking sensors, for example. It gives much-needed confidence for the first-time owner or driver.”

According to Nissan marketing director Kabelo Rabotho, the new Go does much more than just present first-time buyers with a cost-effective option.

“We’ve seen the emergence of a new middle-class in South Africa and our brand set out to create access to mobility. “But with millennials wanting more, we’ve addressed costumers needs with this upgrade.

“And we’ll be expanding the brand over the next few years, making space for more cars in our line-up.”

But with all it’s added features the new Go does come at a price.

Starting at R144 500 for the entry-level mid-specced model, the Go has gone up by just about 10% from the previous model.

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But by organising finance and insurance at 114 countrywide dealerships, the prospect of setting off in a Go is still a whole lot safer, and possibly also cheaper, than relying on public transport.

Pricing 

  • Go A MID R144 500
  • Go T LUX R165 500
  • Go+ A MID R154 200
  • Go+ T LUX R175 500
  • Go+ Panel Van R155 200

All models come standard with a three-year / 100 000km warranty and an optional service plan.

Likes 

  • Funky new look up front
  • Very good spec-set

Dislikes 

  • Some finishing a bit flimsy
  • Placement of gear lever not everyone’s cup of tea

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