BUDGET BALANCE - Datsun Go 1.2 Lux CVT
Is that Go deserving of the negative hype? We get behind the wheel to find out
In recent times, few cars have garnered as much negative press as the Datsun Go. When Datsun returned to South Africa in 2014, their Go was not only one of the most affordable cars on the market, but it was also deemed one of the most unsafe. As a result, much of the motoring media went straight for the jugular.
Truth be told, as much as the media have lambasted the Go, numbers suggest otherwise, as tens of thousands of Go’s have found homes in the driveways of South Africans. Simply put, it has been a sales revelation. That’s because Datsun gave the public, and affordable, and reliable machine, and since 2018, have fitted the Go with some nifty essentials in terms of safety kit. Dual front airbags, ABS and EBD, rear parking sensors, and even structural reinforcements through have made the Go a really good safe buy.
Recently, many of the Datsun Go’s rivals have added an automatic variant to their line-ups. These AMT-equipped models proved extremely popular with first-time buyers, and Datsun needed to take the leap to grab their piece of the pie. But instead of adding an AMT variant like its rivals, Datsun – somewhat surprisingly - instead opted to add a CVT variant.
As is characteristic of all CVTs, the dreaded whine does make an appearance under full bore acceleration. However, after a short while of learning how to extract the most out of the CVT, it is easy to find a rhythm of driving so that you don’t have the CVT’s drone drowning out the radio. As long as you aren’t practicing maneuvers from ‘The Fast and Furious’, the Go provides a relaxed driving experience. However, unleash it onto the freeway where you are traveling at speeds of 120kph+, and you will be frustrated by the CVT whine. Also, attempting any form of overtaking moves will find you inventing new expletives. But keep it pottering around town or residential areas and the Go is an absolute treat to drive.
With 180mm of ground clearance and 14-inch alloy wheels, there is significant body roll under severe cornering. Combine that with the light steering and you need to have your wits about you if you are trying to be Vin Diesel. However, drive like a responsible driver, and the Go is a true pleasure for city driving. Maneuverability in tight spaces is stellar thanks to the Go’s turning circle of just 4.6 metres.
Much like the other Go variants, power comes from a 1198cc three-cylinder petrol motor, but the CVT variant does boast a very minute power bump over the lesser variants – a bump to the tune of 7kw, which takes output to 57kw and 104nm. And when you factor in that the diminutive Go only weighs in at 890kgs, its plain to see that there are going to be benefits when it comes to fuel economy. Datsun reckon the CVT-equipped Go will sip unleaded at a rate of just 5.0 litres per 100kms, which equates to over 700kms on a full tank (35 litres) of unleaded.
The cabin is a relatively comfy place to be. Its design is as ergonomically acceptable as one with expect in a car of this price range, and the driving position is decent. Dominating the fascia is a touchscreen system infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, Bluetooth, and a very hard to find USB port. There are also steering mounted controls, front and rear power windows, electric power steering, and sporty-looking anti-fatigue seats for both the driver and front passenger.
Available in a choice of six vibrant colours, Our Go test car was finished in Vivid Blue and really stood out from the crowd. Standard specification includes colour-coded electrically adjustable side mirrors with integrated indicators, intermittent wipers, central locking, an immobilizer, driver and passenger airbags, and retractable seatbelts, daytime running lights, a rear wiper with washer and body-coloured door handles. The Lux model is also set apart from lesser Go’s by its independent tachometer and a splash of silver on the air conditioner dial, vents, and door handles.
At R192 000, the Datsun Go Lux isn’t cheap. Compared to some of its rivals from Suzuki, Hyundai, and Kia, it’s almost priced into a different segment. But it does come with a great sweetener for buyers in the form of 1 years’ worth of free insurance. And then there is the matter of a 6-year/150 000km warranty and an optional service plan. It should also be noted that Datsun is now also offering a whole range of approved aftermarket bits including 15-inch alloys to roof spoilers, and more to make the Go stand out more.