Long-term test (Introduction): Datsun Go 1,2 Lux
A facelifted Datsun Go was recently added to the CAR garage and colleague Marius Boonzaier and I (we’re the youngest members of the CAR team) have been appointed its custodians. I was rather excited while waiting for the Datsun to arrive, not only because it’s my first long-termer, but also because my car isn’t the most economical. On a good day, my W140 Mercedes-Benz S320 consumes 16,0 L/100 km.
The Datsun, on the other hand, is averaging 7,07 L/100 km, which makes a massive difference to someone used to the thirsty German. Still, with a claimed consumption of 5,20 L/100 km, we were hoping to achieve a better average figure. The consumption should improve, though, as the Go undertakes a few longer trips.
Our model arrived sporting a few accessories, including a boot spoiler (R1 269), black door side mouldings (R438), chromed exhaust tip (R189), boot garnish (R492), roof rails that are purely aesthetic (R1 228) and 15-inch al loys (R5 978). While these trim bits certainly help the Datsun stand out from the hatchback crowd, they have pushed the price up to R175 894.
While the recently facelifted Go competes with ostensibly more established rivals that have been around for longer, it counters with solid standard specification: electric windows and mirrors, air-conditioning, central locking, two airbags, ABS (finally), rear parking sensors and the inclusion of a touchscreen with Apple Car- Play functionality.
Being a small city car, the Datsun is great for zipping through busy traffic, its 1,2-litre three-cylinder thrumming away as you do so. This agility makes it a doddle to pilot in cramped car parks and side roads. Initially, the gearchange action felt notchy and reluctant at times but, as the miles have gone by, this has faded away and swapping cogs in the Go is now easier and smoother. The ride is pleasant and road irregularities don’t upset the car or its passengers excessively. Through corners, the Go exhibits some body roll, a trait common to a car of this class.
Inside the well-specced cabin, space is acceptable. The only gripe is the lack of general storage options but the boot is more than up to the job of carrying a fortnight’s worth of groceries.
So far, the Datsun has been a pleasant surprise, something on which both Marius and I agree. It will be interesting to see what the next five months hold for the little Japanese hatch.
After 1 month
Current Mileage: 1 893 km
Average fuel consumption: 7,07 L/100 km
We like: plenty of equipment; pleasant three-cylinder engine
We don’t like: fuel economy not as good as expected
Long-term test (Update 1): Datsun Go 1,2 Lux
A strange smell, along with damp carpeting in the cabin of our long-term Datsun Go, prompted myself and fellow intern, Marius Boonzaier – with whom I share driving duties – to do some further investigating. After arranging for the Go to be inspected at Nissan Milnerton, the car was booked in with the friendly customer-service staff. The symptoms turned out to be the result of a leak caused by a faulty air-conditioning part.
Aside from the trickle, a few other foibles plagued the Go and we asked the dealership to investigate. The most alarming of which was surface rust that emerged around the hinges soldered to the sides of the hatch. Fortunately, this is not the case with the attachments bolted to the tailgate.
What’s more, when opening the hatch, the gas struts stiffen towards the end of their travel, requiring a considerable amount of force to extend the lid upwards so that even tall people can clear their heads to load and unload the luggage bay.
Now, while this isn’t necessarily a hardship, rather worryingly, the soldered hinges appear to flex. We were concerned they would eventually tear free from the bodywork, hence asking Nissan Milnerton to assist. The service adviser assured us the above-mentioned problems are not normal and would be inspected by the workshop as soon
That very afternoon, I got a call from the dealership, assuring us the repairs would be carried out under warranty as soon as the warranty claim had been approved. Pleased with this news, I collected the Go.
Weeks then went by without us receiving any confirmation on the warranty approval, despite contacting Nissan Milnerton repeatedly. Breaking with our tradition of anonymity when having long-termers serviced or repaired, editor Terence Steenkamp even emailed the service adviser, but did not receive a response.
Going against standard practice, he asked Nissan/Datsun SA’s media relations manager to intervene. The dealership then swiftly made contact, requesting that we return the Go for repairs. While this mess was ultimately addressed, private vehicle owners do not have the luxury of requesting that a contact at a carmaker’s head office intervenes on their behalf to find a resolution. Next month, we’ll report back on the dealership’s service and the quality of its work.
Despite the largely negative report this month, there is a crumb of comfort in the form of the improved fuel economy. While 6,43 L/100 km is still adrift of the Go’s claimed figure, it is much better than last month’s figure of 7,07 L/100 km.
After 2 months
Current Mileage: 3 265 km
Average fuel consumption: 6,43 L/100 km
We like: touchscreen usability
We don’t like: dealer experience; quality issues
Long-term test (Update 2): Datsun Go 1,2 Lux
After our prolonged but fruitless efforts to get hold of Milnerton Nissan to have the Go’s air-con leak and rust repaired under warranty (see last month’s updates for the full story), the dealership contacted us on a Friday afternoon. At last, the warranty claim had been finalised and our long-termer was scheduled for repairs at the start of the following week, which, when returned to our fleet, would hopefully signal a, ahem, “new beginning” for the budget hatchback.
I arrived at the dealership early on the Monday morning. The service manager he assured me repairs would start as soon as possible. Unfortunately, he informed me that, due to unforeseen circumstances, they could no longer supply me with the promised courtesy vehicle but would shuttle me back to CAR’s offices. I handed him the key and waited to be transported to the office. The latest issue was nearing completion and I was anxious to start the work-day. Nearly an hour later, the shuttle service was ready to go and dropped myself and three other customers off at our desired destinations. While this delay isn’t uncommon across brands, it’s irksome when you were originally given the assurance there would be a courtesy vehicle.
To the surprise of myself and co-custodian of the Go, fellow intern Jarryd Neves, the service manager called us the very next day, saying the repairs were finished and, when ready, we could collect the car. When I returned to the dealership, the Go had just been washed and looking spick and span.
Before leaving Milnerton Nissan, I did a quick walk-around of the Go for a detailed look at the repairs. The surface rust which accumulated around the tailgate struts’ hinges was removed and the surrounding bodywork neatly refinished. The struts themselves, which were overly stiff and needed extra muscle to extend the hatch fully, were been replaced with new, smooth-operating items. The tailgate now opens with ease, with no strain put on the welded-on hinges.
Our biggest bugbear with the Go was the leaky air-conditioning unit that trickled water into the cabin. The system was repaired and there have been no signs of leaks. The damp smell, however, remains, but should soon disappear, much like our initial worries with the little Datsun.
After 3 months
Current Mileage: 5 503 km
Average fuel consumption: 6,69 L/100 km
We like: Apple CarPlay
We don’t like: damp smell remains (for now, at least)
Long-term test (Update 3): Datsun Go 1,2 Lux
I noticed something peculiar during the drive: the trip computer’s distance-to-empty figure increased. That suggests the Go is more frugal while cruising than during in-town commuting. We made it back to Cape Town after completing more kilometres than the Go initially said was available on the tank. The consumption dropped to a 6,27 L/100 km best.
After 4 months
Current Mileage: 6 605 km
Average fuel consumption: 6,27 L/100 km
Long-term test (Update 4): Datsun Go 1,2 Lux
After the Go’s initial problems, I’m pleased to report the damp smell in the cabin has disappeared and there are no signs of any further rust. Annoyingly, the driver’s seat has developed a squeak...
After 5 months
Current Mileage: 7 402 km
Average fuel consumption: 6,77 L/100 km
Long-term test (Wrap-up): Datsun Go 1,2 Lux
of two airbags and ABS brakes. Despite the initial hullabaloo, Datsun manages to shift around 400 examples a month, so the little hatchback must be doing something right.
Current Mileage: 9 220 km
Average fuel consumption: 6,63 L/100 km
We like: generous standard spec; manoeuvaribility in town
We don’t like: dealer experience; quality issues
See Full Datsun Go price and specs here