It’s no secret that I have been among the media who have more than loudly raised concerns about the Datsun Go as a safe motoring option for South African consumers. On every media platform I have access to – Buyer’s Guide, Ignition GT, Power FM 98.7, Radio 2000 and social media – I have been relentless in my pronouncements of gloom over the Go. Hence this article may come as a surprise to many – including the execs at Datsun South Africa; but the thing is, approximately 300 units have been sold monthly since it launched late in 2014. What that tells me is that every month approximately 300 South Africans are not nearly as concerned as I am about what I consider to be serious safety infringements. For this reason I’ve had to take a step back to see what they find alluring about the car and here are just a few things I discovered which admit I actually love about the Datsun Go.
- It has a strong brand heritage
The Datsun Go enjoys the backing of the Datsun brand – an automaker which has been around since the 1900s producing vehicles which are both trusted and durable. Many people, myself included, have fond childhood memories of rides in various Datsun models. Either the Datsun was the family car or a family friend or relative had one. Nonetheless, there is a special emotive bond linked to one’s first ever experience in a Datsun thus although the Go might be a newbie it is comforting to know that it comes from a long line of successfully created vehicles. .
- Price point
There can be no argument that at the asking price of R91 500, the 1.2-litre Go is a steal. No other manufacturer can match an offer of a brand new car at anything close to this amount. The price allows more people to afford a set of wheels and thus claim back their lives. Perhaps this is one of the biggest drivers of the 300 units sold monthly which takes me to my next point, a very distinct USP which once again, no manufacturer can claim being – dignity.
There is very little dignity one can attach to any public transport system particularly one as informal as that in South Africa. By owning a car, one is able to regain their freedom from the reliance on taxi which do not run on schedule nor offer the convenience of taking one straight to the door of their destination. The Datsun Go is the vehicular equivalent of having the ability to do anything and Go anywhere at any time.
The Go is by no means a pocket-rocket however with 50kW and 104Nm it beats walking! I have driven the Go more than any other test car on the market (in total – 3 weeks) and to be fair, it really do Go. Its offers a smooth drive although not unexpectedly the wind/road noise is a factor – but what does one expect for R91 500? The ventilated brake discs at the front wheels and good old fashioned drums to the rear work well and do stop the vehicle in-spite of the absence of ABS and EBD.
The Datsun Go is just bigger than a smartie at 3.7m long, 1.6m wide , 1.4m high and has a s turning circle of 4.6m. All this simply means the Go can easily nip in, out and around traffic with considerable ease. It has virtually no blind spots and the sloping angle of its bonnet allows even the most vertically challenged to see over the car’s front without strain.
- Room for improvement / grow with the brand
Probably one of the business objectives in launching the Datsun Go in its current format (as a basic car without frills and luxuries) is that it allows the brand room to improve on the car whilst retaining and increasing its market share. Its genius when you come to think of it, because all those entering the car market thanks for the Datsun Go price point will in effect grow with the brand (upgrade to new models as they become available) and also influence others to enter the Datsun brand themselves.
- Back to Basics
This could be a contentious issue but one of the mischievously delightful factors I love about the Datsun Go is that it is almost as basic a car as it was in the late 70s and early 80s. Not just in appearance – particularly in comparison to its nearest rivals – but in the drive as well. Don’t get me wrong I am not suggesting the Go is anything contrary to what I mentioned in point 4 above, but I am reminiscing to a time when there were little to no driver aids within a car and the skills set of the individual piloting the 4-wheeler made all the difference.