Oh, Nissan. You would not be you if you didn’t follow a week of promising teases of the new Z without some crushing disappointment. Turns out, Nissan is completely giving up on the March, and handing development over to Renault entirely for the next generation. Though it might not seem like a big deal to Z and GT-R fans, the March has been an essential member of the Nissan family since its launch.
According to Autoblog, Nissan’s COO Ashwani Gupta told French newspaper Le Monde that the company would hand over March development to partner Renault for the next generation. It would fall under the alliance’s “leader-follower” strategy, where each company takes the reins on certain types of cars to avoid redundancy. It makes sense, and honestly we’re surprised something like this wasn’t already in place under Carlos “Le Cost Killer” Ghosn.
In a sense this has already happened, as the fifth-generation March, the K14, is built in a Renault plant in France, is available with a lineup of Renault engines, and is only sold in Europe and South Africa. It debuted in 2017, but in Japan the March you get when you walk into a Nissan dealership is still the previous, all-Nissan, K13 generation. However, the K14 is built on a Nissan platform and it’s not uncommon to find the same name used on unrelated cars in different markets (ie, Honda Accord circa 1999). This news, though, seems to imply that there are no plans for a Japan-market March in the next-generation, and that it will only live on in Europe.
In Japan, the March was the compact car to have. Even though it occupied the slot of a compact econobox, it wasn’t just a no-frills widget. Nissan actually poured way more money into the March than they had to, giving it funky variants like the canvas-top convertible (lead image) or high performance variants like the Turbo and Super Turbo. It also formed the basis for the Pike Factory cars such as the Pao, Be-1, and Figaro. Nissan actually made a lot of effort to keep the car interesting.
The March was raced as well, and the car was beloved by creative designer types and enthusiasts alike. It was sort of a VW Beetle or Mini for Japan, in that it offered something for everyone, and throughout it all it remained affordable. It’ll be sad to see the March become something wholly un-Japanese, but hey, synergies. We won’t be surprised if it completely disappears from the Japanese market altogether soon.