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DATSUN GO: A Brand Resurrected

9The Datsun GO has been selling like hot cakes because it is a very good value for money vehicle. It is an affordable car with the necessary amenities you’d expect in such a purchase with a respectable brand name from the automotive fraternity as a bonus.

Datsun, as a corporate brand, was created in 1931, but its history goes back 17 more years – to 1914. Kwaishinsha Motor Car Works was founded in 1911 and they produced their first car in 1914 and named it DAT. The acronym was homage to the company’s partners – Kenjiro Den, Rokuro Aoyama and Meitaro Takeuchi. In 1925, the company’s name was changed to DAT Motorcar Co. In 1930, there was a regulation passed by the Japanese government that allowed cars under 500cc to be driven without a licence. DAT started manufacturing 495cc cars that would sell in this newly created market segment and those were called Datson. The name was later changed to Datsun, and that stayed forever after that.

It is currently a brand owned by Nissan. In 1986, Nissan phased out the Datsun name but re-launched it in 2013 as the brand for low-cost vehicles manufactured for emerging markets. The resurrection comes almost three decades after the brand name was phased out. Now, the brand is more locally oriented rather than the global orientation that Nissan follows.10The good news is that it makes this a cheaper vehicle to own, but will it get you enough for the money or does the low price come at the expense of quality and performance?

EXTERIORS

To keep it simple, the Datsun Go is a good looking car, it really is. The Datsun Go is bigger than its rivals, comparable to the Nissan Micra with which it shares its underpinnings and 2,450mm wheelbase. And bigger is better when it comes to small cars.14To begin with, the Datsun doesn’t look like a budget car. The front grille boasts the Datsun name with a badge on its big hexagonal honeycomb grille. The bonnet has a bold V and the bumper is well sculpted. The large, swept-back and beautifully detailed headlamps look neat. On the side profile, you will notice that the windows have thick black cladding and muscular haunches starting from the rear doors that flow into the outward bulging tail end. The rear is pretty simple. The 155/70 R13 tyres though are very small and look tiny in the wheel arches.13

INTERIORS

The Datsun Go is not a fancy car, and you’d have to be from a different world to expect it to be. However, it is a spacious and substantially designed cabin with functionality as its prime focus. The color palate of the interior plays on the grey and limits itself to that hue. Nevertheless it is useful with a lot of usable space. There’s a useful recess on the dash top and a large shelf under the steering column. The glovebox too is large but it comes without a lid, making the cabin effectively devoid of any concealed storage areas.24You will also notice the Go’s unique 5+1 seating arrangement. The extended front passenger seat has a base and backrest which stretch to the driver’s seat to form a sort of a bench. However, this isn’t meant to be used a seat but a place for women to place their handbags in. But we can see it being used as a seat for small children to sit in, which is a terribly bad idea as there are no seatbelts and it looks unsafe and uncomfortable. Their engineers, though, say that it’s a clever thing to do as it helps a person slide out from either side in tight parking spots. In the rear, the seats are comfortable and provide decent headroom and legroom.

There aren’t adjustment options for the driver seat so you take what you get. Thankfully it isn’t uncomfortable and doesn’t pose much of a problem unless you are very short. The gear lever is mounted on the dash with the pull-type handbrake positioned next to it, both of which will take some time to get used to.

The Datsun GO is a very plain head unit that’s got an aux-in jack and a USB. The USB doesn’t play your music; it’s there just to charge your electronic device. You get automatic windows in the front, but the driver doesn’t get the controls for the passenger windows.

PERFORMANCE

Yet again, the Datsun Go borrows its 1.2 liter three cylinder petrol engine from the Nissan Micra and Micra Active. It produces 67bhp at 5000rpm which combines well with the light weight of the Go to give you a good driving experience. It performs better at mid-range revs and shows its eagerness to go in the city streets.12The engine does get noisy after 4,000 rpm, but never to the point of feeling strained or harsh. That’s probably because Nissan has fixed the rev limiter at a rather low 5,250rpm to get better fuel economy, so you’ll often find yourself maxing the car in each gear earlier than you’d expect.11It has a taller gear ratio so you don’t have to change gears too often. Gear shifts aren’t the smoothest but it also doesn’t require too much effort. The Go’s smart gearing and low weight plays a big role in its impressive mileage.

There is a substantial amount of body roll, but the overall ride quality and handling is good. The suspensions won’t give you any trouble either. Flinging it around corners is surprisingly fun, but not in the Fast and Furious way. But you shouldn’t take it overboard.

VERDICT

Many people confuse the Datsun for the frugal man’s car when in fact it’s a really good car for the price that it comes in. Appearance wise, the Datsun is a looker. It doesn’t have too many things going on but it doesn’t look like the plain Jane either. It could have done a lot better with the interiors but we’ll let it slide because the drive quality is very satisfying and we can’t expect much when you’re getting such a great price.15It has cut a lot of costs so it is a basic car, but a good one at that. The Datsun has a reputable history, and Nissan seem to have resurrected it for a good reason. This should be a great selling point for people who are looking for a good car at an affordable price. It’s just that simple.

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