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
as possible. 

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

A road-trip in the Go was overdue. Thanks to its boxy shape, the boot swallowed two bags with ease. I punched the destination into my smartphone and used Apple CarPlay for the journey to McGregor.

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

My commute consists of slow-moving traffic in urban areas, which perfectly suits the Go. Its compact dimensions and light steering mean escaping gridlock through side roads is a doddle. When that isn’t possible, a light clutch pedal makes life easy for my left knee. The above-average audio system plays music via Apple CarPlay and the speakers produce a detailed, clear sound.

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

Parked in front of CAR’s offices, our new long-term Datsun Go 1,2 Lux’s silver paintwork glinted in the sun as we peeked out the window. It’s a special moment when you are assigned your first long-termer. As the youngest members of the CAR team (some would classify us as millennials), it was a fitting allocation as this budget hatch is targeted towards this market. 

Editor Terence Steenkamp handed us the key and the Go’s six- month tenure in the CAR garage kicked off. This wrap-up features both our experiences behind the wheel of our range-topping Datsun Go test unit. We’ll try to keep the puns to a minimum. 

Jarryd Neves: When HX 04 SH GP rolled into our office park, I was delighted to jointly pilot this city car. The Datsun Go has weathered various storms, fending off attacks about its perceived lack of safety equipment from the media. Nissan SA then addressed those concerns with the introduction
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. 

Although it is labelled a budget car, the Go 1,2 Lux has a high level of standard equipment. The usual suspects, such as electric windows and central locking, are accompanied by several nice-to-haves like a user-friendly infotainment system. As one of the more intuitive examples I have experienced, when I get into another car (a pricier vehicle, more often than not), I yearn for the simplicity of the Datsun’s media interface. 

Everything else is just as straightforward: easy to use air-conditioning controls, well- marked column stalks and un- cluttered dials. The cabin of the Go held up well, showing no signs of wear on the seats or any loose trim pieces. While that gives an indication of its longevity, our test unit wasn’t without its quality issues... 

Early in its tenure, a peculiar smell became noticeable. After an inspection at Nissan Milnerton, it was traced to a faulty air-con component leaking water into the cabin. At the same time, surface rust had appeared around the tailgate hinges. The Go was eventually repaired and there were no further signs of either problem. While these issues were worrying, we have not heard of any other examples suffering the same ailments. 

My elderly Mercedes-Benz has an unquenchable thirst for all things unleaded, so the first few weeks driving the Go not only opened my eyes to the frugality of a small, contemporary powertrain, but also to just how well suited the Go is to urban commuting. The Datsun measures 3 788 mm bumper to bumper and there are very few gaps or parking bays it cannot squeeze into with ease. For those times when careful manoeuvring was required, the rear parking sensors on this Lux model enabled precise steering and braking input. 

The Datsun’s modest 50 kW and 104 N.m of torque may not sound like much but, thanks to its featherweight mass and smooth clutch action, pulling away and keeping up with traffic is anything but stressful. The 1,2-litre three-cylinder thrums happily, even with more than one person aboard and the air-con active. 

I was so accustomed to my Mercs’ superb ride quality, I assumed I’d have to get used to the way the Go dealt with potholes and road irregularities. To my surprise, it never felt uncomfortable (even with the optional 175/55 R15 wheels fitted) and was surprisingly supple and forgiving on Cape Town’s rough roads. The Go has well-judged brakes, too, with the ABS adding an extra sense of security that was missing when it was first launched in 2014. I really appreciated the ABS one evening on my way home, when a careless driver skipped a red light and I had to apply full braking force. Not only did the Go quickly come to a halt without fuss or murmur, it also remained straight and true. 

The past six months have certainly changed my perception of the Go. It has impressive levels of equipment and a comfortable ride. However, at R170 200, it does encroach on more established rivals such as the Kia Picanto and Suzuki’s fresh Swift. 

Marius Boonzaier: The Go was patched up and back in the CAR garage with three months of its tenure remaining. I thought it would be a good time to take it out of its urban habitat and on a road trip to the quaint town of McGregor. The hatch’s 200-litre (as tested) boot swallowed all my luggage and weekend necessities. 

Our car had been delivered sans boot cover, which meant I had to stow my valuables beneath the floor mat to hide them. Unfortunately the newly fitted struts, like the items they replaced, did not seem sturdy enough to extend the tailgate to its tallest position; I had to do a fair amount of crouching to avoid bumping my head against the metal. 

As we approached the cloud- covered sky looming over Dutoitskloof Pass, welcome raindrops fell on the windscreen. The Go’s elevated NVH levels did not bother me as much as they did during daily driving. Instead of turning up the volume of my music, I enjoyed the rain tapping on the roof as the Go went about its business. When the frequency of the drops increased, the Datsun’s single wiper struggled to clear the water from the wind- screen but the downpour subsided and the sun’s rays soon lined the grey clouds.

I discovered something quite nifty: while adjusting the volume of the radio or navigating the infotainment system, I could rest my left palm on the pleasantly high-sited shifter when in fifth gear. A multifunction steering wheel would, however, have been appreciated. Conceding to the millennial-smartphone stereotype, the Apple CarPlay functionality was a boon and this software should be a no-cost option in all new vehicles. 


My daily commute includes a considerable amount of highway driving and I got to know the city hatch well. Thanks to its light weight, it was a cinch weaving through traffic. The three-pot buzzed away as I passed sluggish drivers. The Datsun reminded me of a, cough-cough, go-kart (we did say we’d try). But wind buffeting is a definite drawback of its boxy design and mass. Driving with the Cape Doctor in full force should be tackled with caution, as gusts of wind tend to unsettle its easy-going demeanour. 



You might just learn to love the Go if you forgive its shortcomings. It feels mechanical in nature and this makes it refreshing to drive. It’s what we both liked most about this city slicker; an honest car you can relate to. 

We agreed that our main concern remains that the Go goes head to head with similarly priced, well-equipped rivals in this segment, such as the accomplished Suzuki Swift, Kia Picanto and recently launched Peugeot 108 (which we test in an upcoming issue). That said, the Go will be missed, though. 


 After 6 months
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




Original article from Car