Motoring review – Datsun resurrected

2014-06-22 15:00

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Datsun is back with Datsun Go. It’s aimed at “The Risers” – young, streetwise, ­upwardly mobile but somewhat economically challenged first-time buyers.

Nissan’s resurrected brand is aimed at the emerging middle class, making the dream of that first car accessible.

It also makes sense to buy a trusted, reputable brand. Between 1976 and 1978, Datsun was the bestselling car manufacturer in South Africa.

Handsome, spacious, inexpensive, fuel efficient and built to withstand harsh South African conditions, the Go will offer a very attractive package to the ever-connected youth of today.

Set to go on sale in the last quarter of 2014, the Go will be priced at just under R100?000, with ample scope for personalisation if the ABS and ­airbag-less entry-level Go is too sparsely equipped for your liking.

However, Datsun aims to keep the prices of optional extras low, and modern conveniences like roof rails and leather seats as well as safety equipment will probably not break the bank as they would on a Volkswagen or Audi.

At the media unveiling of the Datsun Go in Newtown, Johannesburg, two of the vehicles were on display.

The range-topper was equipped with two-tone leather seats, roof rails, alloy wheels and every other optional specification available, including sports decal stripes along the flanks.

The entry-level Go, albeit ­without ABS and airbags, was equipped with a standard mobile docking station that would allow the driver to sync his or her smartphone directly with the car. Power steering and air conditioning are also standard.

At under R100k you’d expect the interior to look a little bleak and flimsy, but the front dash in particular looks durable.

The gear lever and parking brake are strategically placed in the bottom centre of the dashboard. This allows for the unitary construction of the front seats (which adds to the available space) and to aid inexperienced drivers to keep their eyes on the road.

The light-grey material looks like it won’t last forever, though. Another gripe is the open cubbyhole design, which means smallish valuables will have to be stashed away below the front seats.

However, on looks and size alone, the Go far surpasses the bottom-dwellers of the automotive bargain bin like the Chery QQ3 and Geely LC. Actually, I wouldn’t mind having a Go for the twice-daily school run. The 265-litre boot will be more than sufficient for the day-to-day needs of my two small kids and, with expected fuel economy of 20km per litre, there will be cash available for topping up the data on my smartphone.

I imagine that the 50kW 1.2-litre engine will do the job nicely.

For now, Datsuns sold in Africa will be imported from India. A decision on future production has not been finalised, but if everything goes to plan, the Go will eventually be built at the Rosslyn plant in Pretoria.

Prices and local specifications for the Go will be made available nearer to the launch.

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