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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?