MOTORING: Datsun was born. It died. It has resurrected.

Datsun GO
Datsun GO

IT was born. It died. It has resurrected.

...but no radio, no airbags and no electric windows for the Datsun Go

This is none other than the blast from the past that was much-loved in the day and was one of the most economical cars of our time – the Datsun.

There was the Datsun 1200 and the Datsun 120Y which was “the car” back then during the days of the Peugeot 504s which made it into the Presidential motorcade in the ’80s.

Datsun is Nissan’s budget brand. Budget doesn’t necessarily mean cheap and neither does cheap in terms of price refer to cheap in terms of quality and build.

Nissan has somewhat been able to dissect itself to appeal to all sections of the market.

If you are looking for a car for the motorhead, Nissan gives you the GT-R. If you are looking for luxury, Nissan avails to you Infiniti. If you are looking for a luxury off-roader, Nissan unleashes the beastly Patrol which dares to poke rival carmaker Toyota’s Landcruiser 200 series in the eye; and if you are looking for a budget vehicle, Nissan will now give you the Datsun Go.

Datsun is a company that is owned by Nissan and was founded in 1931. I am not a history teacher, nor do I want to bore you with timelines.

Datsun was discontinued in 1986- I was only four years old then.

And it was relaunched in July last year.

Datsun will soon be pushing volumes of the new Datsun called Datsun Go.

I will not talk a lot about horsepower of the Go because the new Datsun wasn’t built or designed for horsepower but fuel efficiency, save to say that its 1,2-litre, 3-cylinder engine churns out 67hp at 5 000rpm and 104Nm of torque at 4 000rpm.

Unimpressive by any measure. But given its size, it’s “understandable”.

I am aware that I am writing for a market that is of the perception that the bigger your engine size and the bigger the dimensions of your vehicle are, the more status one has.

We live in a society where a vehicle is a status symbol more than just a basic means of moving one from point A to point B.

I was in Rome, Italy, a few weeks ago.

Italy is the country that builds Lamborghini and Ferrari, but truth be told, I never saw a single Ferrari or Lamborghini. What I saw were “small” Fiats and Smart cars — not forgetting the scooters.

Big cars with big engines are no longer the “in-thing” in most developed countries save for Germany and the United States.

Even Swedish carmaker Volvo has deliberately stopped building big engines and has joined the small engines “revolution” by discontinuing its 4,4-litre V8, which is to date arguably the biggest engine they ever built for their flagship passenger sedan.

Small doesn’t mean no power.

These small engines being churned out now by various carmakers are “cheeky” and don’t compromise on horsepower.

Those that owned a Datsun back in the day will agree that it was one of the most reliable and economic cars to grace our roads.

If we were to talk about fuel efficiency and low maintenance costs, Datsun was the car.

Now the car is headed for Africa and, as always, it will first hit South African showrooms.

Currently, there is no information about any dealership that will be offering it locally. However, the new Datsun will come with a 1,2-litre, 3-cylinder engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission.

This is the engine you will likely find in the Nissan Micra, but, according to Nissan, is slightly detuned.

It will make 0 to 100km/h in about 14 seconds.

That should tell you that this car is not quick on take-off but is about fuel efficiency.

According to Nissan, the Datsun Go should give you 20,6 kilometres per litre. These are figures that should excite many would-be first-time car buyers.

This also means that the 1,2-litre engine size should be generous to the pocket. It is the kind of car that you can talk about on how many kilometres one can do with one litre of juice.

Honestly speaking, how do you ask a guy driving a Mercedes-Benz S65AMG how many kilometres his car does with one litre? He would take it as an insult, wouldn’t he?

This new little hatchie is being strategically positioned for first-time car buyers, but this doesn’t mean that those also looking for an affordable little run-about vehicle are not eligible to buy it. The five-door hatchback will sit five passengers but the downside that most would-be customers will gripe about is that the Datsun Go does not come with a glove compartment box, something that you would expect to find in any modern car.

While the idea in the relaunch of the Datsun brand with the Go model is to make it affordable as much as possible, cutting down on production costs was also a serious consideration.

It means the Datsun Go comes with a single wiper blade instead of the two we are used to seeing on every car that comes our way.

No radio but two speakers in the front will confirm that Nissan has indeed done so much to cut costs. The radio will only work in sync with your smart phone.

Don’t expect to find electric windows, much like the old versions that came with window winders.

Too much cost-cutting!

Again, don’t expect to find ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System) in the Datsun. Neither should you expect to find airbags. It is just not available, not even as an option.

I have reservations about a car without basic safety features like an airbag, as I am sure many other people would be.

Nissan hasn’t been able to break through into the larger volumes car segment for a very long time and with the Datsun Go, they are hoping for the best.

Perhaps the new marketing line (“Datsun Break Through”) will bring this dream into reality and see Nissan push volumes in the smaller car segment through the Datsun brand that will be totally independent of Nissan.

They say simplicity is the ultimate sophistication and Nissan is just trying to prove that with the Datsun Go, but at times I wonder how simple simple should be, seeing that the front passenger seat and the driver’s seat have no space between each other, making them look like a church pew.

The hand brake and the gear lever are mounted on the dashboard to create space.

Everything about the Datsun Go is about keeping the car small while trying to create a whole lot of space.

Not taking anything away from Datsun, it’s comeback product will surely need a lot of marketing to push sales given that the brand has been absent for almost three decades. Nissan will be selling the Datsun Go in Russia, India, Indonesia and South Africa.

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  • SafeTechnology

    Safety comes first! Value Life value Safety! I need a car with air-bags..