Yes, Datsun is back in South Africa. The Datsun GO has finally been unleashed to do battle in the entry-level segment of the market.
The Nissan-backed brand is clearly targeting young, first-time buyers, although with a starting price of just R89 500, we're certain the Datsun GO will attract the attention of older customers, too.
The Indian-built Datsun GO will be available through 44 dealerships across South Africa, with the aim of increasing that number to 60 by March 2015. Datsun dealerships will exist within the Nissan dealer framework with a mix of dedicated and common showroom configurations.
The five-speed manual hatchback weighs in at 1152kg and is powered by a DOHC 12-valve, three-cylinder, 1.2-litre petrol engine. Maximum power of 50kW is delivered at 5000rpm, while peak torque of 104Nm arrives at 4000rpm. Datsun claims an average fuel economy of 5.2 litres per 100km and a sprint-to-100km/h time of 13.3 seconds.
The Datsun GO has a wheelbase of 2450mm, and measures 3785mm from bumper to bumper. It's 1485mm tall and 1635mm wide, with a ground clearance of 170mm.
The cockpit is split into three distinct zones, featuring what Datsun calls "leather-feel grain patterns" and three contrasting colours. The gear lever and handbrake lever are mounted on the centre console, which allows the adoption of "connected" front seats (although Datsun stress that this space is "not intended to be used as an extra seat in the front").
The luggage compartment, meanwhile, can hold some 265 litres.
Two models will be available at launch: Mid and Lux. The range-topper includes wheel covers, exterior colour-coding, bottle holders in the front doors, door map pockets, speed-sensitive power steering, electric windows up front, a mobile docking station with audio system, and manual central locking.
A little surprisingly, neither model is available with ABS or airbags.
Datsun has equipped the range-topper with a system that it says does "much more than a simple audio system". The car comes with a Mobile Docking Station that allows the owner to sync his or her smartphone directly with the car. Instead of being restricted to a radio and, perhaps, a CD player, the owner thus has access to satellite navigation, hands-free telephone, USB charging, music player and radio all accessed via the smartphone.
Datsun says a wide range of optional accessories will be available through dealers, including decals, branded seat covers, chrome fittings, roof-rails, a spoiler and alloy wheels.
"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," said Des Fenner, General Manager of Datsun South Africa.
"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," said Fenner.
Datsun GO Mid: R89 500
Datsun GO Lux: R99 500
Three-year or 100 000km warranty (with roadside assistance). Service and maintenance will be optionally available.