LISTEN 11:36

Mission control: The Datsun launch is a GO. I repeat - Datsun is GO for launch. Ignition sequence…

The re-launch of the Datsun brand took a big step forward with the reveal of its new budget car, the GO. This compact, five-door hatchback will spearhead Nissan’s ambitions across some of the largest developing markets in the world, starting with India and Russia in early 2014.

The Datsun brand will form the low-cost and extra-reliable rung of the Nissan family that also includes the Infiniti luxury division. Datsun wants a piece of the huge sales numbers achieved by Maruti-Suzuki and Dacia with an eye on future expansion across Asia, Africa and South America.

The new Datsun ethos is fun, youthful cars that are extremely practical. The marketing is lifestyle focused with strong appeals to youth culture and breaking away from the norm. New brands and segments are easier to establish among young shoppers with fewer brand loyalties.

The Datsun GO must carve a careful niche to maximize its success in the Indian home market, where the car was also developed and will be assembled. A low selling price is king but customers will spend more to get the features they need, like a tailgate that opens for luggage access and of course, air conditioning. The slow-motion failure of the unpopular Tata Nano is a cautionary tale for the new Datsun brand.

How will Datsun’s launch model perform in challenging market conditions?

Click past the jump for the full preview of the 2014 Datsun GO, a new generation of compact cars from the legendary Datsun brand.

  • 2014 Datsun GO
  • Year:
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
  • Transmission:
    5-Speed Manual
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
  • MPG(Cty):
    32 (Est.)
  • MPG(Hwy):
    35 (Est.)
  • Torque @ RPM:
  • Displacement:
    1.2 L
  • 0-60 time:
    14.7 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    94 mph (Est.)
  • Layout:
    Front-engine, Front-drive
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:


2014 Datsun GO High Resolution Exterior
- image 515910

The style of the new Datsun GO is fresh and current with a large rounded-diamond badge in a chrome-trimmed honeycomb grille up front. The grille has some sharp angles in its six-sided form and is a unique look on the road. The halogen reflector headlights are a similar shape chopped edges and a geometric design.

Faux air ducts appear in the lower bumper corners and overall the GO is a cohesive and appealing car from the front.

In profile, the tiny dimensions become clear with a 96.5-inch wheelbase and some six-spoke covers on the mini wheel and tire package. While this looks somewhat unusual to outsiders, the size and features of the GO are actually pretty modern – at least judging by the press car’s body-colored door handles, and front and rear bumpers. The panel gaps and assembly quality of this pre-production example are also world-class and bodes well for the quality of the cars coming out of the GO’s new Chennai-based factory.

The doors and window design is not revolutionary but does ensure the rear window can roll down deeper into the door than on some hatchbacks. A blacked-out panel appears behind the rear glass and helps the GO seem more modern with a rakish and sporty roofline.

In fact, practicality is the main goal of this shape. Some light haunch lines break up the rear fender area and the tailgate has a stylized logo area for its center-mounted Datsun emblem.

The tailgate’s exterior handle is concealed within the bottom edge of the hatch door in an elegant way. The rear glass is curved around the trunk shape and has a third brake light under the glass.

Overall, the design and assembly quality looks well above the Dacia Logan but about on par with the Hyundai i20 that the Datsun will compete with for Indian buyers.

The full features and specification are not yet available but Datsun did announce the dimensions of the car, shown in the table below.

2014 Datsun GO – Exterior Dimensions:

Wheelbase 2,450 mm 96.5 in.
Length 3,785 mm 149 in.
Width 1,635 mm 64.4 in.
Height 1,485 mm 58.5 in.


2014 Datsun GO High Resolution Interior
- image 515916

The cabin of the Datsun GO is very welcoming with low-sheen tan materials for the main doors and dash assembly. While durable and single pieces, the door panels have a wide armrest and integrated water-bottle holders. A power window control for the front glass appears ahead of the sculpted door handle on the driver’s side – but manual windows are more likely for the base production models.

The three-spoke steering wheel is a relaxing shape that shares some of its smooth design with the Nissan Leaf – aside from the prominent Datsun emblem in the center. Just below the wheel is a full-width parcel shelf that replaces a traditional glove-box door with a large cubby. The shelf’s edge is angled to prevent items from falling out while on the road, while a 12-volt power outlet is located to the right of the wheel.

A pull-type parking brake is mounted to the dash with a larger and simple handle to disengage the brakes. The GO has a relatively flat floor in the front with less intrusion than is normal for front-drive cars. The gearstick for the five-speed manual is mounted high up and just below the climate unit. Climate control includes manual knobs and adjustments and the mandatory air conditioning for those red-hot Delhi days.

The stereo is an interesting nod toward the young buyers Datsun hopes to attract. It is a standard head-unit size but does without even a radio. Instead, it has a built-in smartphone mounting point that can adjust to fit different devices. The system connects via a USB or a 3.5 mm audio jack that is a direct line to the speakers.

The floor and front seats speak to the utility mission of this compact hatch. Despite its diminutive stature, the GO has seatbelts for five people and is often a family’s primary vehicle. The driver’s seat is an individual bucket with slide and angle adjustments, while the passenger seat is an extended bucket that can double as a bench front seat for three.

This shape means there is no center console or fold-down armrest – nor is there a lap belt for this middle position. Safety norms are different in these developing countries and there are no mandatory airbags to drive up the cost of the car.

2014 Datsun GO – Interior Features:

  • Power Steering
  • Air conditioning and manual climate control
  • Central Locking
  • Power-operated front windows
  • Digital tachometer display

Drivetrain, Suspension and Brakes

2014 Datsun GO High Resolution Exterior
- image 515903

The GO is powered by a 1.2-liter gasoline triple that produces 68 horsepower and 104 pound-feet of torque. The GO is front-drive and has disc brakes in front but less-effective drums in the rear.

The performance stats below are very rough projections – more details as they become available. Based on the dimensions of the GO and its power stats, it will offer a 14.8-second 0-to-60 mph time and a 94 mph top speed (on a very long highway to gain momentum.)

The triple runs on gasoline and should deliver more than 30 mpg in both the city and highway.

2014 Datsun GO – Mechanical Details:

Engine Size and Type 1.2-liter Gasoline I-3
Peak power (Horsepower) 68
Peak torque (Pound-feet) 104
Transmission 5-speed Manual
0-to-60 mph 14.8 seconds, est
Top Speed 94 mph, est
Fuel Economy Rating (City/Combined/Highway) 32/NA/35, est


2014 Datsun GO Interior
- image 515907

The safety performance of the Datsun GO is not yet available, but the car benefits from a clean-sheet design that uses the latest technology in the car’s steel body structure. The crash worthiness of the GO is enhanced by Nissan’s expertise in small-car platforms courtesy of the Versa and others.

Without confirmation if the car will offer ABS or airbags, it is difficult to say that the GO is safe family transportation. For many people in the market for this car, however, the new design offers a huge improvement over motorbike or the older legacy models. India’s famous taxi-cab, the Hindustan Ambassador, was originally designed in the 1950s before the advent of any type of passenger safety tech life seatbelts or crumple zones.

On that comparison, the GO promises a much-safer experience in crowded cities and chaotic highways. Additionally, the backing of Renault-Nissan means the GO has been signed off by the company’s experienced safety experts – adding trustworthiness not mirrored by low-cost Chinese vehicles.


2014 Datsun GO High Resolution Exterior
- image 515900

Pricing is not yet finalized but the GO is promised to cost less than INR 400,000, the equivalent of about $6,400 USD. The low base price promise is exactly what landed the Tata Nano in such hot water, so it will be interesting to see how basic the cheapest models are.

Tata’s original price promise more than quadrupled on the actual cars with a few required features.

A good standard feature set will help Datsun satisfy shoppers who have been burned by this bait/switch tactic before.


2014 Hyundai i20

2011 Hyundai i20 High Resolution Exterior
- image 368723

The Hyundai sets itself apart via a larger four-cylinder engine and six-speed manual transmission, each one increment larger than the Datsun GO’s three-cylinder and five-speed. Available diesel engines round out a package that is mainly a five-door in India but also comes as this three-door. The Hyundai’s import status means less patriotic buyer motivation and pricing that can be significantly higher than the Datsun and Maruti-Suzuki.

2014 Maruti-Suzuki Alto

The Maruti-Suzuki brand is the best-selling car brand in India with a modern, affordable hatchback called the Alto. Made in huge numbers (700,000-plus annually from its giant factory), the Maruti-Suzuki is the benchmark the Datsun must beat.

Subtle facelifts keep the Maruti-Suzuki looking relatively fresh versus classic Ambassador taxis, but show lines without the modern style of the Datsun or its advanced safety cell construction. The Alto’s value pricing will make things difficult for the little Datsun.


2014 Datsun GO High Resolution Exterior
- image 515904

The Datsun GO is a perky and cute little design from a brand that has all the ingredients to make it to the top. Adding a youth- and budget-oriented brand lets Nissan solidify its semi-premium status in these emerging markets where its main cars (like the Altima, Pathfinder and 370Z) are very expensive and out of reach for most mainstream buyers.

The long road to Datsun becoming a billion-dollar brand is littered with castoffs that did not make it. For the entire Datsun experience, Nissan will follow Dacia’s model of designing value in the cars right from the start. Every part of these ‘extreme value’ vehicles must be easy to make, ship, install and repair.

In developing markets, a single model is not the kiss of death that it can be in the U.S. or Europe. Datsun plans to build a range around this platform that is likely to include a sedan (for Russia) plus the Datsun GO Cross with off-road fender flares and a higher ride height.

The mega-factory where it will initially be built will ramp up over the next two years after sales begin in early/mid 2014. If all goes well, localized factories are earmarked for Indonesia, South Africa and Russia.

After the show glitz dies down, the GO will have to appeal on its merits alone. The cute little Datsun’s practical shape and features will be as popular as the classy exterior and fresh brand image.

The GO is poised for liftoff. I repeat: Datsun, you are cleared for launch.

Category Rating Details
Driving B Comfortable Seats And Durable Interior Help Driving Experience
Performance B Very Slow, Especially With AC On - But Good Expected Fuel Economy
Look A A Fresh Face For The New Datsun Brand
Value A Unknown Final Pricing And Base Features
Overall B+ Welcome Back, Old Friend
  • Leave it
    • Lots of unknown specifics about the Datsun’s interior dimensions and performance
    • Hopefully the show car’s power windows and painted bumpers make it to production on base-model GO
    • Innovative stereo idea seems to lack basic AM/FM radio that is a cheap technology and could easily be included
About the author

Press Release

DELHI, India – Datsun today unveiled the first new Datsun car for the 21st century. The all-new Datsun GO will be on sale in India in early 2014.

2014 Datsun GO Emblems and Logo
- image 515915

Datsun is Back with All-New Datsun GO - An Affordable And Compact 5-Door

2014 Datsun GO Exterior AutoShow
- image 515902
  • Datsun is back; new Datsun GO unveiled in New Delhi, India.
  • Datsun GO is the first Datsun car for the 21st century.
  • Developed locally, Datsun GO will also be locally produced.
  • Datsun is the third Nissan Motor Company’s brand.
  • Datsun stands for Dream, Access and Trust (D.A.T.).

The Datsun GO is the realization of the commitment made by Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. in March 2012 to return the Datsun brand to the marketplace. Datsun is the third brand for the Nissan Motor Company along with the company’s Nissan and Infiniti brands. Datsun will play an important role in the Nissan Power 88 mid-term business plan.

“This is an historic day for Nissan Motor Company and for our customers and partners in some of the world’s fastest-growing markets. It’s also an exciting moment for many women and men here in India who – today – come one step closer to realizing the dream of purchasing a car," said Carlos Ghosn, Nissan Motor President and CEO, when unveiling the car.

The five-door, front-wheel drive hatchback will come with a 1.2-liter engine paired with a five-speed manual transmission that offers optimal response time and agility in congested traffic.

2014 Datsun GO Exterior
- image 515914

With comparatively compact body dimensions (width – 1635mm; height – 1485mm; length– 3785mm), the car is spacious inside thanks to a wide stance and large wheelbase (2450mm), and offers ample headroom and an expanded front seating configuration. It will be a reliable partner for families, providing comfort to five occupants and agility in congested traffic.

For those customers never wanting to part with their favorite music and pictures Datsun GO will offer a very practical solution – Mobile Docking Station to connect with their smartphones.

Datsun GO is expected to be “a category up" in its price range, attractively priced below INR 400,000.

This all-new car has been built to meet the needs of recent rising group of optimistic customers in high-growth markets who seek better value propositions. These are people who want transportation that supports their everyday needs, but that also fulfills their dreams and ambitions for a better tomorrow. They are literally “on the move." They want to GO further, so the name of the car reflects this aspiration.

The name of the new car is inspired by the first Datsun, the DAT-GO, launched almost a century ago in Japan. Back then the cars brought mobility to people who had never dreamed of car ownership before. The reignited Datsun brand and the Datsun GO will bring a similar combination of aspiration and trustworthiness.

Datsun GO is high quality, stylish and modern, delivering an engaging driving experience. The overall Datsun customer offer will include a worry-free ownership experience, competitive total cost, accessible services, with transparent pricing, and dealership proximity.

2014 Datsun GO Interior
- image 515906

“When a customer buys his first new car in countries like India, Indonesia, Russia and South Africa, first he dreams about it. To realize the dream, customers need to have access, feel a sense of belonging towards the Brand. Also, as this purchase will represent a significant part of their disposal income, it is important for them to have full trust in the brand and the product. So Dream, Access and Trust are key values for which the Datsun brand stands now," said Vincent Cobee, who leads Datsun.

Datsun models will be individually developed for different markets, but the concept will follow a common inspiration. Datsun GO will be the first of several Datsun models that will be launched later in 2014 in Indonesia, Russia and South Africa.

2014 Datsun GO Exterior
- image 515905

While Nissan Motor’s Global design center in Japan was responsible for the Datsun GO styling, R&D and engineering development for the project were entrusted to local engineering resources and suppliers to ensure the product would suit local market conditions, preferences, tastes and needs, and would be accessible in terms of price and supply. The project development was of course backed by the full assurance of the global Japanese car manufacturer’s accumulated expertise and quality assurance.

Datsun GO will be produced at one of the newest Renault-Nissan Alliance factories at Oragadam, in Chennai.

More information will be available closer to the start of sales.

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