The Datsun GO, the first offering bearing the redesigned and modernised Datsun brand to take to Africa’s roads since the early 1980’s, not only marks the return of one of South Africa’s favourite brand to the country, but also the manufacturer’s entry into the hotly-contested entry level segment of the market.
The Datsun GO will spearhead the re-entry of the brand that became a legend in the 60’s, 70’s, – becoming market leader between 1976 and 1978 – and 80’s when the Datsun name was associated with vehicles that offered quality and reliability at an affordable price for their owners.
At an entry price of just R89 500 for the Mid Model and R99 500 for the Lux Model the Datsun GO will therefore be a natural choice for younger, first time buyers or people looking for a vehicle that could be used as a comfortable, stylish and fuel efficient ‘urban runabout’, said Mr. Des Fenner, General Manager of Datsun South Africa.
The Datsun GO will seek to reassert Datsun’s presence in the entry level segment in the market and will be the first vehicle off the floors of Datsun dealerships that will soon dot the South African landscape. Dealerships across the country are gearing up to open their doors and start selling on the 20th of October 2014.
Sales of the Datsun GO will begin immediately. The vehicles will enjoy the full product and service support expected of one of the world’s most renowned names from ‘Day One’.
The Datsun GO will be available through 44 dealerships across the country, with the aim of increasing this to 60 by the end of the fiscal in March 2015. Datsun dealerships will exist within the Nissan dealer framework with a mix of dedicated and common showroom configurations. The Datsun sales experience will be unique, but the level of after-sales service will be leveraged off the existing Nissan dealer network.
The fully imported cars taking their place on South Africa’s roads will be imported as completely assembled units from India, where the Datsun GO became a feature in early 2014. Since then it has also made its entry into Indonesia.
The decision to launch the Datsun GO to spearhead Datsun’s return to South Africa was based on the identified needs of the market in South Africa, seen as first-time new car buyers who were looking for an affordable vehicle that offered modern styling and great economy.
“The five- speed manual Datsun GO- weighs in at 1 152 kgs. It is powered by a DOHC 12-valve, three cylinder, fuel injected petrol engine with a displacement of 1 198cc. Maximum power of 50kW is delivered at 5 000 rpm, Torque is a respectable 104 Nm produced at 4 000 rpm, “Fuel economy is 5.2 litres per 100 km in a combined urban and rural cycle.” Mr Fenner said.
“Stopping power is delivered through a disc/drum combination, with ventilated disc brakes providing braking upfront and drums brakes at the rear. The suspension comprises Macpherson struts with double pivot lower arm and torsion beam at the rear. The vehicle is shod with 155/70R13 tyres. (For more: see Engineering and Drive Train sections below).
Exterior design – sweeping lines, height and stance set a new standard.
There is much more to the Datsun GO, than just technical specifications of the newest vehicle to take to South Africa’s roads.
The design of the vehicle is distinctive; positioning the car clearly as a vehicle for the “Riser”, the young up- and-coming younger motorists who want more than economy in a vehicle- styling is number one on the requirements list. This need is fulfilled the moment the distinctive and modern ‘D-cut grille’ is seen. The combination of horizontal bar and strong D-shaped lines formed by two stylised hands , express the brand’s spirit, while the tough integrated bumper houses three lower air intakes.
Large fully integrated three dimensional headlight assemblies flank the streamlined bonnet. They also accentuate the starting point for strong shoulder lines which run from the front wings to midway through the rear door. Here they meet a bold ‘flick’ which curves towards the tailgate above the rear light assemblies. The side window outline features stylised ‘brackets’ at either end, establishing a distinctive styling cue.
With the wheelbase of 2,450 mm, Datsun GO is 3,785mm from bumper to bumper, being 1,485 mm tall and 1635 mm wide. With its tall body, wide stance and class-leading ground clearance of 170 mm, the car is very stable on the road and handles challenging road surfaces with aplomb – a plus in South Africa with its mix of high-speed freeways and highways, secondary and crowded urban roads. One of the advantages of the car’s height is that it has a commanding driving position. The driver therefore has a better view of the road and surroundings than is available in other entry-level cars, which tend to be considerably lower.
The standard 13 inch wheels are covered by a sporting six double-spoke full width cover on the Lux model. A body colour palette is available with a choice of five shades (Sky, White, Gray, Silver and Ruby).
The overall result is a smooth and sophisticated silhouette in which the strong haunches and character lines suggest dynamic movement and clear agility coupled with an inner strength and overt robustness.
Interior design – where function and looks come together.
In keeping with the Datsun design ethos, the interior of the Datsun GO is modern, simple, functional and good-looking.
The cockpit ahead of the driver and front passenger is split into three distinct zones and features leather feel grain patterns and three contrasting colours to add an air of sophistication.
The driver’s control is through a comfortable, chunky three- spoke steering wheel ahead of the simple but effective single instrument cluster. Sporting distinctive white and blue colouring for the large speedometer, the combination meter also incorporates a Smart Meter comprising a digital tachometer and Gear Shift guide and Drive Computer. The Gear Shift Guide, marked on the speedometer, shows the recommended timing for each gear change according to the vehicle speed- a handy aide for first time drivers and when the present price of fuel is considered.
The centre section of the dashboard houses two Silver Accentuated ringed air vents – there are four in all, with one at either end of the instrument panel as well. All vents allow adjusting the air flow in all directions and may be closed if necessary.
Uniquely in the class, the gear lever and parking brake handle are mounted in the centre console. As well as being ergonomically more efficient and useful for first time drivers, by removing these controls from the floor of the car, the traditional hump of a transmission tunnel is not obvious on the floor. This means that passengers can pass much more easily from one side of the cabin to the other – useful if the car is parked in such a way that access is only possible through one door.
Another benefit of housing the gear lever and parking brake in the centre console is the opportunity to adopt ‘connected’ front seats. Instead of a raised centre console – or even a void – between the two front seats, Datsun GO features a clever ‘assist’ surface that links the two.
Not intended to be used as an extra seat in the front, the surface is instead seen as a convenient place to store goods – bags, coats, maps and so forth – so that they are close at hand, rather than placing them in the luggage area or on the floor.
The final element of the dashboard, the area ahead of the passenger, is a soft touch panel beneath which lies a large open storage area. With other storage zones in the dash and door pockets capable of holding 1.5 litre bottles the interior is practical – total oddment storage volume is 9.4 litres – as well as stylish.
Thanks to its overall dimensions, Datsun GO has the longest effective cabin in the class, making it a leader when it comes to interior space. Leg, knee and shoulder room is at or near best in class while the headroom is better than the competitors. At 265 litres the luggage volume is also best in the class.
The vehicle is fully carpeted throughout, and features fabric seats.
Engineering- an accent on lightweight, sturdy construction, strength and safety.
The engineering goals for Datsun GO were on the delivery of a vehicle that was lightweight for efficiency and which offered strength for safety. The result is that with a tare mass of between 779 and 788kg, the Datsun GO is the lightest car for this body and engine size.
High levels of body rigidity have been achieved by using the latest design optimisation. This, in turn, means that the small, modern and highly efficient three-cylinder engine is not only fuel efficient, but provides good levels of performance while matching fuel usage to the ‘best in class.’
The platform has been specially tailored to Datsun’s needs. To provide refined ride comfort and good handling, the new Datsun GO uses a sophisticated double pivoted lower arm front suspension with a torsion beam rear suspension.
With a long travel suspension set up and higher than average ground clearance, the car is perfectly adapted to negotiate any rough roads it may encounter. Datsun GO is equipped with special ‘high response’ linear dampers, which generate the appropriate damping forces more accurately than conventional dampers.
Generally used in our luxury brand, Infiniti, these dampers help to reduce the body’s pitch and squat movement over poor surfaces for added ride comfort.
Extra comfort is also provided by the ergonomically designed front seats, which provide added spinal support. Specially shaped to reduce stress on the spinal cord, the seats even pressure distribution on the upper body, reducing fatigue on every journey, by mimicking the natural ‘S’ curve of the spine when standing rather than the typical ‘C’ curve adopted when sitting thus promoting better circulation of the blood through the body.
The new Datsun has many features that may be found at the upper-class vehicles advanced electric power steering (EPS) the system varying the steering assistance needed by monitoring engine and road speed to calculate the torque needed. At low speeds, it provides more assistance for lighter steering feel when manoeuvring but offers more force when the car is travelling more quickly to ensure control under cornering and at higher speeds.
The new Datsun GO also benefits from a best in class 4.6m turning circle despite the longer than average wheelbase.
Safety features include effective ventilated front disc brakes for shorter stopping distances and best in class lighting performance.
Under strict comparative testing, Datsun engineers have shown that less pedal effort is needed in normal city driving to generate needed deceleration, while stopping distances are shorter than competitors.
Carefully tuned hexagonal reflectors within the distinctive front headlights provide a wide low beam light pattern and a long light pattern on high beam. The beams are up to 2m wider and 10m longer than others in the class.
Reducing driver fatigue has also been addressed by lowering wind, road and mechanical noise from the cabin by careful positioning of sound absorbing material on the bulkhead and under the floor and the adoption of door and window seals originally developed for Nissan’s luxury models.
Engine and drivetrain – proving class leading performance
With dual targets of strong performance and excellent fuel economy driving the development, Datsun engineers adopted a 1.2-litre (1,198cc) three-cylinder engine as the optimum unit for the new car.
Perfect circle bores have been achieved allowing the unit to deliver power and torque figures of 50kW and 104Nm respectively. The result is class leading performance with 13.3 sec to 100km/h sprint. Yet with fuel efficiency of 5.2l/100km it is highly economical and competitive in its class.
In conventional fashion, the engine drives the front wheels through a slick manual five-speed transmission.
Although the new Datsun GO is to be offered at a very attractive price, it wants for little in the way of equipment and features. As well as electric power steering, ventilated disc brakes and leather feel cabin materials; it has a substantial list of advanced equipment to enhance the driving experience.
And it starts with the key. In place of the simple plastic key offered by rivals, Datsun owners have a more substantial key complete with a facsimile of the Datsun emblem in its centre. A little thing, perhaps, but a luxury touch not expected at this level of the market.
Other features are even more sophisticated and equally unexpected in this segment of the market.
For example, Datsun GO features an Intelligent Wiping System (IWS). As well as a continuous wiper setting, there is an intermittent setting. But rather than having a set delay between sweeps of the blade, IWS varies the wiping interval depending on the speed of the vehicle.
Reflecting the huge growth in smartphone ownership, Datsun has equipped Datsun GO with a system that does much more than a simple audio system can manage. The car comes with a unique Mobile Docking Station (MDS) that allows an owner to sync his or her smartphone directly with the car. Instead of being restricted to a radio and, perhaps, a CD player, the new Datsun owner has access to satellite navigation, hands-free telephone, USB charger, music player and radio all accessed via the smartphone.
The MDS simply slots the smartphone into a holder in the centre of the dashboard which can be paired by an AUX cable to the car’s system and the car’s integrated door mounted loudspeakers. The system is far more versatile than a conventional audio and is totally future proof: by accessing the internet via the smartphone, radio can even be streamed into the cabin.
Plenty of thought has been given to helping the owner, too. Journey’s end, for example, might be at the bottom of an unlit street or deep in the countryside. The new Datsun features first in the segment ‘follow me home’ lights to ensure that the way ahead is illuminated even if the car has been switched off and locked.
As the driver leaves the car he or she simply pulls the headlamp flasher to illuminate the headlights which automatically switch themselves off after a predetermined period: one pull leaves the lights on for 30 seconds, two pulls for one minute, three for 90 seconds and four for two minutes.
The desire to make a car uniquely ‘your own’ is recognised by the Datsun GO. A wide range of accessories is available through dealers that will encourage owners to express their personalities through the GO. A range of decals, branded seat covers, chrome fittings, roof rails, a spoiler and alloy wheels can be purchased separately to help every GO have a look of its own.
A three-year 100 000km warranty with roadside assistance comes as standard, and owners can choose a range of service and maintenance plans to suit their needs.
The new Datsun GO breaks new ground in the ‘riser’ market segment because it has been purpose designed for that market.
It boasts best-in-class roominess and storage volume than expected in the class but also outperforms in terms of acceleration, economy, handling and turning radius. First in segment features include the Smart Meter, Follow Me Homes lights, Intelligent Wipers, extended ‘Assist’ front seats and ventilated front disc brakes.
The Datsun GO also benefits from the latest Nissan developed technology including high response linear damping; spinal front seats and leather feel grain soft touch plastics and the smart Mobile Docking Station.
Says Des Fenner, “The Datsun GO is a new contestant in the ‘riser’ market, but offers more than most would expect of a car in this class. Its appealing design is more than just skin-deep, as the car is a class leader with great levels of performance, economy and handling.
“We are particularly proud of the fact that the value we are offering will be underscored by the respected McKinsey Report, which assesses cost of car ownership based on a basket of parts for each model.”
We are confident that the highly respected MCKinsey Report will show that the Datsun GO, will have the cheapest parts basket in the country, from the day that sales begin.
We have no doubt that it will make an impression on the South African market due not only to its features, but because of its attractive pricing. The car will be a worthy ambassador, setting the tone for the introduction of new Datsun models to come.”