The budget car segment is heating up in South Africa, with two of the top contenders hailing from Japan in the forms of the new Toyota Agya and Datsun Go.
These cars slot in at the bottom of the brands’ model ranges, and are aimed at dominating this segment.
With both achieving a starting price of below R200,000, and both offering features you rarely see at this price, it is shaping up to be quite the competition.
Datsun unveiled the new Go in 2018, which brought with it a few upgrades over the previous model – such as ABS, a second airbag, and an automatic transmission (CVT) option – but this increased the price and consequently pushed the Go into more a competitive market segment.
The Agya – released in late 2020 – is aimed at replacing the popular Aygo at the bottom of Toyota’s lineup, with affordability being a clear focus as the base model does not come with a pre-installed audio system.
Luckily, though, the car has two speakers for when you want to add your own radio later on.
When it comes to power, these cars are almost identical.
Equipped with a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine, the Datsun narrowly pulls ahead at a maximum output of 50kW and 104Nm of torque.
The Toyota then comes with a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine producing 49kW and 89Nm.
You might not get any street racing done with these machines – as the more powerful Go achieves the 0-100km/h sprint in 13.3 seconds, with the Agya trailing behind at 14.6 seconds.
But, what they lack in output, they more than make up for in fuel economy.
This is where the Agya shines at a combined consumption of 4.8l/100km, according to Toyota.
The Go is no gas guzzler by any means either, and still hits a comfortable combined 5.5l/100km, said Datsun.
Being the cheapest cars from the respective brands they are not too kitted out, but you can still find some welcome comforts that trickled down from their more expensive siblings.
Features shared by both models include:
- Dual front airbags
- Two front speakers
- Electric power steering
- Multi-information display
- Electric windows front and rear
The additional features line-up, however, is where the Datsun starts to outperform its opponent.
Where the entry-level Agya does not come with a pre-installed audio system; the Go comes with an infotainment system that supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard.
Datsun then went through further effort to improve the 2018 model over and above its predecessor.
For this they added a drive computer – which calculates things such as remaining range and fuel consumption – along with reverse park sensors, electric mirrors, and “follow me home” headlamps which lights up your driveway as you walk into your home (even when the car is locked and turned off).
Cargo space is reasonable for this segment, and comes in at a comfortable 265 litres.
The Agya also receives some notable features – such as a push-start button, LED-powered lights, and an immobiliser alarm.
Furthermore, you get Toyota Connect app support as standard with the Agya – which delivers important information about your car to you and your registered dealer – and an optional in car Wi-Fi system for an extra fee.
The boot then provides 260 litres of cargo space, just a smidge less than the Go.
The difference in price is almost negligible, especially if calculated over the course of ownership.
The starting price for the Toyota comes in at R178,600 for the 1-litre petrol engine and manual transmission – then goes up to R196,300 for the 4-speed automatic Agya with audio at the top end.
With this you’ll receive a standard 2-services/20,000km service plan, along with a 3-year/100,000km warranty.
The Datsun starts at R177,200 for the 1.2-litre petrol engine with a manual transmission – with the top of the range Go coming in at R205,200, fitted the 5-speed automatic transmission.
Standard packages include a 6-year/150,000km warranty only, with optional service and maintenance plans available at an extra cost.
Between these competitors there is no clear leader as one is not necessarily better than the other.
Meaning the final choice will ultimately come down to what you believe is the better buy.