By on March 3, 2016

Kreutzer Nissan March 5

February ends. March begins. What better way to celebrate the sunny-but-cool weather of early spring than by looking at military castoffs? Luckily, the Lemon Lot full of them, and some were quite appropriately named.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you one of Nissan’s cutest products: the March.

The third-generation March, a common sight on Japanese streets, was co-developed with Renault and made its debut at the 2002 Paris Motor Show. Shortly thereafter, it entered the Japanese market where it continued to be sold in more or less the same form until a substantial redesign changed the look of the vehicle in 2010. You might know it as the Micra, depending on your personal locale.

Kreutzer Nissan March 2

Nissan made good use of the third-generation March’s platform and used it as the basis of several variations — including a performance version, a four-wheel-drive version and a cabriolet. There are, in fact, so many models and sub-models based on the March that you need to be a Nissan historian to sort them all out. The platform went on to underpin the Cube, Tiida/Versa and — one of my favorite small cars — the Nissan Note. Wikipedia tells me the March also formed the basis of the Renault Clio III, the Renault Modus and the Duesen Bayern Ritz, which is some kind of modern, custom bodied, Japanese Domestic Market take on an old Fiat Nuova 500.

Cute and popular, it makes sense that the March would be represented in large numbers on at the Yokosuka Lemon Lot. Offered with a variety of 1,300 to 1,500 cc engines, backed by either a four-speed automatic or a five-speed stick, the March is powerful enough to run on the highway without being swallowed by traffic, yet efficient enough to not milk your life savings at the pump. It also does a great job of striking that special midpoint: seating for four adults in a package small enough to successfully navigate the tight streets of Japan. I think it’s a perfect fit for people who don’t have kids to lug around.

Kreutzer Nissan March 3

Today’s visit to the Lemon Lot found no less than five Nissan Marches on offer. The first: this peach-colored 2004 model was on sale for just $1,950. It comes with keyless entry, an inspection valid for two years, and just 64,000 kilometers on the odometer. A quick look around finds it in good shape, with no obvious dings or damage, wearing a decent looking set stock alloy wheels. An odd combination of orange and grey adorns the interior. Even if I have my own personal reservations about this fruity shade of tan, this March is fairly tidy overall.

Kreutzer Nissan March 4

Second up on our March to victory is this slightly banged around blue example for $1,900. A quick inspection found cloudy headlights, a couple of scuffs and scrapes, and a missing piece of trim on the rear driver’s side door. The wheels are plain old steelies hidden under cheap looking plastic hubcaps, and the information on the car is limited to a price and a phone number. There is no information on any remaining safety inspection time or other options that might make me want to bite. I think I’ll keep looking.

Kreutzer Nissan March 6

Next up is this slick looking black jobbie wearing what appears to be an aero package. On sale for $2,300 (marked down from $2,500), it claims to have 49,000 km on the clock and comes with a brand new, 24 month inspection. It also has a good looking set of alloys and the information posted on the window indicates keyless entry/ignition and an AM/FM/CD radio. Don’t let the screwy license plate and the spots from the recent rain fool you; this is one tight little March. Still, at $2,300, it’s more expensive than the others — and there are more cars to see. I’ll keep this one in mind.

Kreutzer NIssan March  7

This cheerful tan 2005 model is really eye catching. With around 35,000 km on the odometer and an inspection good until September, it seems like a plausible purchase — until one notes that there’s no asking price listed. This little unit comes with a rearview camera and navigation, says the information sheet. My quick walkaround found few problems, but its ugly wheel covers should be used for skeet practice. While decently clean, not having a price on the windshield leaves me cold. Considering the fact that I don’t know where the discussion would begin on the sliding price scale, I’d probably take a pass. There are so many other options.

Kreutzer Nissan March 8

Last up is this bright blue, aero-equipped March that looks like it has suffered more than a few bumps and bruises. There’s a big old chunk taken out of the rear passenger-side mud flap, and the fact its tow-point cover is missing from the front bumper doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence. To make matters worse, the only paper on this car was a base permit for parking in the Lemon Lot, so I can’t tell you pricing, options or mileage. Frankly, I think it’s a damn shame. Of all the Marches on display today, this one probably came off the showroom floor with the most desirable options and in the best-looking color. If it was in better shape, this is the car I would buy. But, given its condition and competition, I think I’d walk away.

The Nissan March is cute and practical. But the Kreutzer clan requires seating for five, including a couple still in booster seats. Otherwise, I could see us owning one.

Which of these would you pick?

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25 Comments on “Lemon or Lemonade: March Madness...”


  • avatar

    The Maxima…

  • avatar
    threeer

    The orange 2004, if nothing else than for the “funky” factor! Man, do I miss OCONUS Lemon Lots! Was one of the first stops whenever we moved back overseas, though my father always (and I mean always) wound up with some variant of a white, four door Opel Rekord. The Lemon Lot here on Redstone doesn’t offer anything near as unique and, um, country-specific as these Nissans…bummer.

  • avatar
    Coopdeville

    What’s up with the one with antenna in the front bumper? That would lead a very short unhappy life in many cities. None others have that, is it aftermarket?

    • 0 avatar
      Tinn-Can

      That was exactly what I was wanting to know… That is kind of weird…

    • 0 avatar
      TonyJZX

      Its a parking indicator since you cant see the extremities from the drivers seat. Wouldnt know why you need it on a subcompact but JDM cars have weird stuff.

      I daily drive a full size and thats not needed.

      These are called Micras outside of Japland. They are famous for being written off due to the price of parts.

      Not an entirely terrible conveyance for a disposable car as long as you take the manual. Couldnt fathom the hell that is the 4 spd auto.

    • 0 avatar
      King of Eldorado

      Ha! I commented on that same feature on the Honda Mobilio in Kreutzer’s article yesterday. In many years of reading about cars I had never seen that before; now twice in two days. It looks like it could be useful for people who do a lot of tight parking in a car where you can’t see the hood for reference (i.e., most modern cars).

    • 0 avatar

      That’s probably a factory option. Some of those retract, not sure about that one. The one on my Mobilio was a stick-on piece of crap from Autobacs. I say “was” because I bumped it yesterday and broke it off.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I like the light tan/manilla one a lot, as well as its wheel covers, which remind me of the ones on my former xB1:

    http://www.wheelsandcaps.com/images/Product/icon/22984.jpg

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    For condition, the tan one is tops. Those white rub strips have not a single mark on them. But since the price is unknown, I’m going with the orange one. It’s been taken care of, not really any nicks on it, and it has real wheels.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    You know Tom, it’d be interesting to do an entry about how the taxation works there. I know the engine displacement determines the tax and your color plate. But things like the difference in tax and insurance costs between a little Micra or a Kei and something with a 2.0+ engine like a Mark or Soarer or Alphard.

    And what’s the cost of fuel for a gallon, since they seem very concerned with economy?

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    All those cars are in fantastic condition. I think you could take the worst of the lot and it would still beat the avg. 5 yr old Nissan Micra we have here.

    The Japanese just seem to be fastidious.

    I’m of the opinion that these cars should be bought according to the purpose of that model, so all I need is the steel wheels central lock 4 spks, a radio that plays back from USB, aircon and a manual box. Its a urban shopping trolley. You do not need alloy wheels or ‘aero package’ nonsense.

    I find a lot of beauty in simplicity and this is as simple as it gets. I’m not quite reading for the ‘Quebec specials’ though.

  • avatar
    Rick T.

    I’m curious why these cars have badges in English.

    • 0 avatar
      gasser

      I asked a Japanese guy about this once. FWIW he told me that the names in the Kanji alphabet are too hard to be read at a distance, so they used Western letters and names for the vehicles.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    shoulda brought this to the states instead of the versa sedan. im assuming the window shades on all of em are OEM? ive got some on my scion that match the tinted windows. makes the car a little less hot when parked in the sun

  • avatar
    rpn453

    I’d take the orange one. I wouldn’t normally want to drive an orange econobox, but it’s Japan, so why not.

    I couldn’t imagine buying a clean, rust-free subcompact with only 64k km for anywhere near two grand around here.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    I’m glad this article bookends the Chiron Sanders vehicle.

    I feel that these Japanese odometers feel a bit dubious.

    49,000km in 10yrs? 4,900km a year??? Then again whats the point. The car is only $2,000 – here’s an example in my neck of the woods:

    2010 Nissan Micra ST Manual $5,500 149,000km 3cyl 1.2L Petrol

    I refuse to believe the Japanese travel so few kilometers?

    • 0 avatar
      ccode81

      Most people ride on train for daily commute, and these compacts most likely been a second car for mom’s drive to nearest super market. 5,000 km a year is quite realistic.
      the legal inspection on every 2 years makes official record on odo meter, they are accurate.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    Cute? Not on my planet. But certainly a good deal for an ugly little car to use in town.

  • avatar
    sabotenfighter

    I really dislike this generation of March, especially the convertible one. The previous gen, with a Nismo body kit looked killer.
    Thomas, while I share your concerns about kei safety, modern higher end ones are pretty safe at city speeds (there were some studies, I dont have the link handy), but I certainly wouldnt want to get smacked by a truck or get in an accident at real (not posted) speeds on the 高速道. I took a non-turbo CVT Suzuki Hustler out to Nagano last weekend. Held 120kph on the highway without complaints and still managed to get 41mpg (my calculation).


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