A Fitter, Leaner March

Nissan March 1.2 Review

Story by Justin Lee Photos by Justin Lee and Raymond Lai - 7 Apr 2011

The new 4th Generation Nissan March sheds some weight with its new state-of-the-art engine and chassis. This leaner new March is also significant because it  sets the pace for a whole new generation mid-sized Nissans, and more significantly, Renault models as well.

Less is More

There's no denying the facts - compared to out-going model, the new Nissan March looks like it has become a back-to-basics little hatchback, more like the popular 1st and 2nd generation March that was popular over 20-years ago.

The 1.4-litre engine is out, replaced by a 1.2-litre unit. Nissan has even cut the number for cylinders from four to three, a first for the Japanese company! All the luxury items, like keyless entry and ignition and the colour-coded beige or soft grey interiors have disappeared. Only the fully digital climate control remains, and only on the automatic model.

So what gives? Why the lowering of specs, especially when COEs are at an all time high? Why couldn't Nissan keep the March a highly-specced chi-chi hatchback that had a small but firm following?

After driving the new car, and having driven both the 2nd and 3rd generation models, even though it appears to be down graded, the new 4th generation March is probably the best and most thoroughly-engineered March since the car was first introduced in the mid-80s.

And it is the last model that was the anomaly - Nissan had no choice in the late 90s but to make the last March a high-specced and boutique model. No doubt, it was reminiscent of the quirky but stylish Pike cars like the Nissan Be-1, Pao and S-cargo, but most of the other Japanese car companies were busy investing in and setting up production plants in ASEAN (mainly Thailand). While they were introducing more affordable Thai-built models to fend off the Korean carmakers, Nissan was in no position to do so, and as the entry-level model, the made-in-Japan March just couldn't compete on price, and had to sell on looks and equipment, and move upmarket.

Nissan are now back in the black and financially secure, and yes, the new March is manufactured at a spanking new factory in Thailand. In fact, to underscore how technically advanced this March is, in the Thai market, the March, with the same basic engine, qualifies as an "Eco-car", with a fuel consumption of 20km/l and putting out less than 120g of CO2. The most significant difference between the Thai "Pure Drive" eco model and the model sold here is that it gets start-stop technology to further reduce its fuel consumption, everything else is the same.

 

 
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Engine
Engine Capacity 1198cc
Engine Type Straight 3
Compression Ratio 9.8:1
Bore x Stroke (78.0 x 83.6)mm
Power 76bhp @ 6000rpm
Torque 104Nm @ 4000rpm
Power to Weight 80.9 bhp per ton
Performance
Acceleration 11.2s (0-100 km/h)
Fuel Consumption (combined) 15.2 km/L
Misc Technical Data
Transmission 4 -speed Auto
Drive Type FF
Measurements
Body Type 5 Door Hatch
Dimension
(L x W x H)
(3780 x 1520 x 1660) mm
Wheelbase 2440 mm
Turning Circle 9 metres
Kerb Weight 940 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity 41 L
Brakes
Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Drums
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