Motoring review – Datsun: GOing places

2014-10-29 18:45

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You’re trendy, young and really want a new car. Except you can’t put a deposit down and nobody wants to finance you. Are you doomed to bum lifts from your friends or wait for taxis for the rest of your days? According to Datsun, you aren’t. Enter the new GO. Ané Theron gives it a drive

Iconic brand Datsun returns to our automotive shores with its new budget hatchback, the GO, which is aimed at “the risers” – young, tech-savvy, street-smart, first-time car buyers with plenty of swag.

When I attended the unveiling of the GO in Johannesburg in June, Datsun promised the car would enter the market at less than R100?000. And they managed to do just that, but not without the sacrifice of a few specifications that I think are rather necessary, like power steering in the base model, the GO Mid at R89?500.

Some people reading this have had their lives saved by ABS brakes and an airbag. Mine has. Unfortunately, you won’t be saved by these in the GO, as neither of two available derivatives are equipped with them yet.

Apart from the lack of this safety equipment, the GO is not bad. It has the funkiest exterior styling of any of the low-cost hatchbacks and great interior space too, notably in the rear. Its boot offers best-in-class space of 265?litres, which (according to Datsun) can hold 12 cases of beer, 30 shoeboxes or R1?500 worth of groceries (depending on where you shop).

It has higher than average ground clearance, which helps when travelling on our pock-marked roads and enables you to occasionally park on the pavement.

The front seat has a unitary construction, and although no one is saying it out aloud, I can already see three slim people sitting up front (despite the fact that there are only two seatbelts).

The better-equipped GO Lux (R99?500) also features a standard mobile docking station for your smartphone, and air-con is standard in both derivatives. I would have preferred the safety equipment instead, but if you’re 20, being cool is probably more important.

There are some other niceties worth mentioning, like the “follow me home” headlights that stay on after you’ve left your car and you’re digging for your keys at the gate.

At the Gauteng launch, we had a chance to drive the GO around Boksburg. Its 1.2?litre engine is peppy, and due to its compact dimensions, the GO is easy to manoeuvre around town and has good all-round visibility.

The seats are built to support the spine and felt rather comfy. Our particular model’s (power) steering felt vague and my co-driver remarked that the suspension was too soft.

It will be interesting to see if the GO will make “the risers” of South Africa bite, but the fact that buying a GO requires no deposit, nor a balloon payment, is a huge selling point.

Each GO comes with a three-year/100?000km warranty with roadside assistance. Maintenance and service plans are optional.

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