NEWS: New Datsun wagon and pickup coming soon, and the mistake everyone makes about the new Datsun

0436-8446_Datsun GO

Last month we were invited to Nissan’s global product showcase. After the Zama classics and Juke-R, the car we were most eager to see was the new Datsun Go. he first new model to wear the revered Datsun name in decades. Since much debate has raged in the comments about whether it’s a worthy successor to the marque and this would likely be the only time we’d see one in person on US soil, we felt obliged to report on it. 

0431-8441_Datsun GO

Obviously, the name strikes a nerve with fans of nostalgic Datsuns. However, here’s the big mistake that everyone is making: It is not a 510. To compare the GO with the seminal Japanese sports sedan would be wrong. It’s actually far more appropriate to liken it to the 1958 Datsun 210, which appeared in Japan just as the country was taking its first steps toward motordom.

1959 Datsun 1000 210

It didn’t have much power (just 37hp from a 1.0L OHV four, compared to the GO’s rumored 68hp 1.2 inline-three) or much handling prowess, but it was exactly the right car for the conditions of a developing nation.

0173-8156_Datsun 210 Fuji-Go

One of them even won its class in a 19-day rally around Australia, which like Japan at the time, had miles of unpaved roads between major cities. The 210’s ladder frame chassis, primitive compared to the 510’s, was perfect for those rough conditions. It wasn’t until 10 years and three generations later that the paradigm-shifting 510 emerged to turn the automotive world on its ear.

2014 Datsun Go 11

As a modern day Datsun 210, the GO is perfect for emerging drivers in the countries in which it will be sold, a group Nissan calls the “risers”. In fact, conditions in 1958 Japan were much rougher than modern day India, Indonesia and Russia. We weren’t allowed to drive the GO, as it was a pre-production example and the only one in our hemisphere, but Nissan did give us permission to sit inside it and kick the tires.

The good news is, it’s a exceedingly well-built car for its price of 400,000 rupees (about US$6,700). Fit and finish is superior even to many entry- and not-so-entry-level American cars sold over the last several years. The shifter felt chunky and truckish compared to a modern car, but not really much worse than, say, a stock AE86’s, and it’s perfect for India’s infrastructure. We would much rather tool around town in a GO than, say, a Chevy Spark, which starts at $12,170.

Datsun GO+

Then in Jakarta on Tuesday, Nissan announced a new Datsun wagon. It will be powered by the same 1.2-liter mill, have 5+2 seating, and will be priced under 100 million Indonesian rupiah, or US$8,700.

Dear readers, do you realize what this means? Here’s a genuine, honest-to-god, 5-speed Datsun wagon, the first longroof Nissan to wear the hallowed name since the 1983 Maxima. Who cares if it’s front-wheel-drive? This thing would sell like hotcakes in Oregon, Vermont, and Colorado.

0441-8461_Datsun GO

As we were getting our grubby fingerprints all over the only GO in North America, we ran into the global head of the new Datsun, Vincent Cobee. “Since you’re the head of Datsun, here’s a Datsun for you!” we proclaimed as we bestowed a first run sample of the 2014 Hot Wheels X JNC Datsun 620 upon him. In return he said, “Wonderful! I can promise you a Datsun pickup is coming in the near future.” Whoa, JNC scoop!

So there you have it. The new Datsun is developing a lineup very similar to what they had in the late 1950s to early 60s. Give them 10 years. Then complain if  a revived 510 doesn’t appear.

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14 Responses to NEWS: New Datsun wagon and pickup coming soon, and the mistake everyone makes about the new Datsun

  1. acbpanda said:

    Beautiful, the new wagon looks awesome. and the revived Datsun line should do very well in the areas where cheap, reliable, and cars fit for rugged landscapes win.

  2. Tyler said:

    I sat in a Spark last weekend and found it to be quite agreeable. What do you guys thinks is the main deciding factor between it and the Datsun?

  3. pstar said:

    Japan wasn’t some poor, backwards, no infrastructure “developing nation”. You are talking about the same country that had recently built the largest warships, some of the highest performance aircraft, and waged an offensive campaign against half the Pacific Rim.

    Poor, sad, little developing countries can’t do that kind of thing. Fact is, Japan has been an industrial powerhouse since the late 19th century. The fact that it took until the postwar era to establish anything more than a boutique domestic auto industry is because of a misallocation of resources and military dictatorship. Not because Japan was some pathetic little backwater who was just discovering infrastructure and engineering.

    Also, I don’t know where you get your stereotypes about Oregon or Colorado. Since when are cheapo fwd wagons with tiny engines popular there?

    • Walter Moore said:

      Mis-allocation of resources indeed… The first Zero prototype was assembled in a secret research facility in the interior, then had to be disassembled and transported to the nearest air field by ox cart… Quite the tech power house.

      India is no less technically savvy today than Japan was in the 1930’s they have significant technological resources, a modern navy, and nuclear weapons. What exactly are you trying to say?

  4. dan said:

    Agreed about the oregon and stuff comment. And on the japan stuff, lol they are a tech powerhouse.

  5. Randy said:

    I’m thinking the reference is more to the areas liking wagons… The low-price (“cheapo”?), fwd stuff is just gravy to buy them as daily drivers/grocery getters. I’m really disappointed that we won’t be getting them; would be interested in the low-end for a vehicle to use for work, and protect “the good car” for me-time. If they could get them into the U.S. for under $10K – after meeting the federal regs – I think they’d sell all they could build. Even better if they could build them here, while maintaining the quality.

  6. Jim-Bob said:

    I wish something this simple, basic and low priced would be sold in the US again. Not everyone cares to bay for 20 air bags, stability control, ABS, power everything and a radio that can read your mind. This is a car that would be perfect for low income families and people who currently ride scooters due to high fuel prices. The only real changes I would make to it would be the elimination of the hubcaps (replacing them with silver steelies with small black centers) and going from carpeting to a steel floor covered in pickup truck bedliner.

  7. Emperor said:

    that thing looks like the dacia from my mom……….i really hate the japanese companys for geting more and more “Euro”

  8. David said:

    The Datsun brand name continued to be used in Japan … like the 2002 Datsun Truck.

  9. Wagoneer said:

    Urghh!! That was my initial reaction to this new Datsun and its still the first word that springs to mind. Urgh! That’s a pretty dull car. And that’s coming from a Wagon R owner!! There’s nothing wrong with base model cars, they can be awesome. Look at the old Minis and the old Starlets from the 80’s. Heck, the old 90’s Nissan Micra / March was excellent. But this car is just a repackaged Dacia Logan, and that’s about as close you get car wise to a flat-pack Ikea shelving system with an Allen key and instructions in drawings only. I am amazed it does come fully assembled at the prices they are selling them at, so it’s correct that we should not compare old Datsun to new Datsun. Old Datsun is dead, new Datsun is easier to say than Dacia. And if you think you have a scoop on the news that there will be a pick-up version then please Google Dacia Logan pick up. It’s alright In a sort of mini Australian Ute sort of way.

    I am sure that new Datsun will do well and gain market share, I just hope they don’t continue the same work ethics that Renault appear to have installed at their Dacia plants in Romania where production runs 24 hours non stop and employees do 12 to 14 hour shifts. That whole country is an economy built on supplying bargain basement goods and materials. Clearly neither Dacia nor Datsun will ever make it over to you dear Americans, and trust me, you are not missing out. Also, the latest Nissan Micra / March model is not much better than this Datsun, so if they want to gain fans here in Europe Nissan need to get some better economy cars out besides the very good Quashqai, Juke, and Note. A car like the VW Up / Seat Mii / Skoda Citigo is what the Cheap Datsun / Nissan should aim at. Cheap AND cheerful, just a bit more room.

  10. E-AT_me said:

    Nissan needs to sell these in the US. it would be a great first car for a lot of people here.

    • oner said:

      I would love this for a first car at under 10k! Good starting point in this day and age.

      Nissan already sells the Np200/300 as a commercial vehicle overseas. I think it would sell great around 10k in the US. Maybe make a nice hybrid or small compact EV with this new Datsun lineup.

      Renault makes some nice city and commercial cars on electric. Why not Nissan/Datsun with a base, sport, and hybrid compact city truck. At under and around 10k presumably

  11. chin said:

    Spot on comparison. Great article!

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