If you're in the industry, there' no way you don't know about the Datsun GO, in fact it's been a rather controversial little car since it was introduced to the market when Datsun made a comeback. It ticked all the boxes in terms of a budget car with some good looks, a frugal motor and a decent price tag. The controversy came in with the car's safety, it wasn't great, there weren't any on board safety systems and the crumple zones were a little too crumply. But do you know what? The buying public didn't care, in fact they didn't care so much that Datsun grabbed a huge hunk of the A-segment budget car market, and that trend hasn't slowed down. The buyers in this segment would rather have a brand new car with a few compromises than have a decently specced 2nd hand anything. ABS eventually made it into the car, as did dual front airbags - and the sales continued. Jump to November 2019 and the latest incarnation of the Datsun GO has arrived, and it's been made prettier, given some great paint options and has some tech upgrades on the infotainment front, EBD and BA is included as well as reverse parking sensors and follow-me-home headlamps and also VDC (vehicle dynamic control) safety technology that monitors various parameters - like wheel speed, steering wheel position and lateral acceleration - yet on the finance side things happen to remain just as affordable as the previous models. As a motoring journalist I'm meant to ignore all of that because the safety cell hasn't changed and its technically still not as safe of a daily drive as it should be. The thing is, it's not a bad overall package and I can't help but like it a little more than I should. The biggest change is the option to take the Datsun GO in automatic with a CVT transmission. Yup, an "automatic" budget car, sales will be massive.
An automatic in this segment at this GO's price point is definitely going to attract new buyers, there's just no two ways about it - millennials are averse to swapping cogs . So for this CVT version the power from the rumbling 1200cc 3-cylinder, power rises from 50kW available on the manual to 57kW and torque comes in at 104Nm. It's no robot racer, but it'll get you where you're going with no fuss. I have an aversion to CVT transmissions, they always make the drive feel like the clutch is slipping if it were a manual, but after the initial pull off and you get up to speed, that settles down and the GO drives, well, pretty good. Steering feedback is good, the brakes are almost overkill, but that said I'm used to the system in a 2002 Corsa Classic which when at its optimum still feels spongey. The suspension is a little softer than I'd like, there's a little too much leaning when navigating a traffic circle, even below the posted speed limits. I also think that even though the new wheels look cool, chucking them in favour of wheels in a 15-inch sizing with at least a 195/55R15 tyre will improve on road stability and inspire a little more confidence when getting up over 100km/h.
The crowd this car is aimed at is young and tech-savvy, and the infotainment system has been upgraded to make them happier. Again, another thing that will see people start overlooking crash test results, which can seem scary, but besides the cars that have made the news in this regard, how many people have ever researched their car's results. As said, for many it's a moot point. When you have a budget car that offers up a 7-inch touchscreen heading up the infotainment system that includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, it's going to be a selling point, a good one too. This Vivid Blue paint looks good, and would be my choice if I had to have a GO. I'd add in some proper JDM-style wheels, I'd hit up FS Projects for some attention to the suspension and I'l have piano black accents all over the place. If blue ain't your thang, there's also Red, Silver, Grey, White, Orange and a super sexy Sandstone Brown for the GO+ model.
There's two models with three trim levels in the GO lineup. There's the GO Mid at R159 100, the GO Lux at R170 200 and the GO CVT at R184 200. The GO+ features the same three designations and these come in at R169 500, R180 800 and R194 800 respectively. The Datsun GO is also given a 1-year subsidised insurance package and a decent 6-Year/150 000km warranty. If you're not needing the insurance, that can be changed up as a cash-back sort of offer. It's no wonder the GO has sold nearly 33 000 units since introduction seizing upwards of 27% of the market share then.
Would I have one? In this new spec, I think I would. I'd also love to see one modified and taken to local car shows like Suzuki does with their new Swift, there's an untapped market there. Given the option of any brand new cars in the A-segment, it's a hard decision now, and the segment is gonna get better and better offerings to temp new, young buyers or those needing to downsize without sacrificing some convenience features. I recommend a Saturday morning of car shopping where you drive the Datsun GO, the Suzuki Swift, the Suzuki Ignis or the Peugeot 108. There are others in the segment but I haven't driven them so have no comments there.
Author: Chris Wall
A slightly tattooed motoring fanatic, photography nut and avid collector of knowledge. Use the search bar to navigate through the archives.