Sam says it’s a pity
I was not sure what to expect from the Datsun Go, in part because it fell short in various safety assessments in previous years. Yet, I was pleasantly surprised with all that the Go has to offer. In fact, it far exceeded my expectations which makes the negativity around its safety, that materialised when the first Datsun Go landed four years ago, that much more of a shame.
Since then, however, things have definitely improved. The initial airbag-less car that lacked ABS and which crumpled in test crashes has been replaced. It now has two airbags, ABS and promises of stability control later this year. It is unclear if the bodyshell is stronger and the doors do have a slight ‘tinny’ sound when you close them. Overall, however, efforts are being made to improve its safety.
Ultimately, it is an ideal car for a first-time driver like a student. Yet, would parents want to have their inexperienced, and statistically high-risk driver, in a car with a bad safety reputation. Probably not.
And that is where the problem comes in. Almost every person who saw I was driving the Go made a comment about it lacking in safety features. All that seems to remain in the minds of consumers is that Global NCAP crash test video of the car. Which is such a pity.
That aside, the Datsun Go provides drivers with a confident and spunky drive that other cars in the A-segment do not quite meet. It features a 1.2l petrol engine with a power output of 50kW and torque of 104Nm. While not vastly different, I felt it fared better on hills than others in the segment.
The confident handling comes from the suspension system’s double-pivot front arm. This provides greater agility while the tension from rough roads is absorbed by a high-response damper. The technology helps to keep the vehicle motion stable.
Claimed fuel efficiency is set at 5.2l/100km. I managed to get 6.5l/100km in congested driving, which just adds to the affordability appeal of the car.
From the outside
Changes to the front grille and bumper have given the Datsun Go an understated but appealing upgrade to the exterior. Overall, it makes for a good-looking car that is not just focused on practicality.
From the inside
The design and the technology of the Datsun Go was one of the aspects of the car that made it ‘exceed expectations.’ It offered drivers so much more than you would expect: touchscreen infotainment centre, reverse parking sensors, easy to connect to and use Bluetooth system and Android Auto and Apple car play.
The volume controls were one of the only disadvantages. The volume can only be adjusted on the infotainment screen. This required more concentration and distraction from the road than what controls on the steering wheel or a twist knob do.
I also did not like the fact that there was no backboard above the boot. Granted, the smash-and-grab and small windows and design at the rear make it impossible to see what is in the boot. I didn’t, however, feel confident putting my new laptop in there.
The Datsun Go is positioned as the ideal car for students and it definitely lives up to this. Its funky looks, unexpected perks, good drive and the even better price, make it the perfect option. I just hope its safety reputation catches up with these improvements so that none of this is overlooked.
Good to know
Engine: 1.2l petrol
Price: starting from R144 500
Warranties and service plan: standard 3 year/100 000km warranty and optional service plan
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