WELL, well, well… What have we got here? The long awaited diminutive Nissan March called Nissan Micra in India and Europe. The ultimate fuel efficiency vehicle, the 'eco' car as it is called in Thailand. The Brits called it a supermini. Before the March hit the Thai showrooms they said that it could travel more than a thousand kilometers and on less than 41 liters of fuel. Or 20 + kilometers per liter. Wow!
All right. I do believe that this car is fuel efficient, but is it any fun to drive? As it is propelled by a small three cylinder 1.2-liter engine pumping out 79 horsepower.(These days all cars have more than 100 hp).
Is this car made for city driving only? Is it worth the friendly price of just 375,000 THB for the base model; manual transmission or 537,000 THB for the top model with automatic transmission? We’ll find out.
The model for our test drive is the entry model with manual transmission 5-speed, front wheel drive. Price: 375,000 THB.
We'll forget about the eco friendly, light driving mode and instead we hit the road hard and find out what it's made of.
Before going into the whole driving experience, lets look at the design. With my first impression of the Nissan March would be that it doesn’t look that cool. It is small, super compact. The front looks somewhat cute. The big eyes, a massive air intake but the rear looks like a robot! A small car comes with small 12 inch alloys. Advantage, cheaper tire change. In the entry level model you got to use the old turn key, no wireless remote, but that is what you pay for. Luckily the windows are electric.
Then I began to think about this car’s capability, it’s cheap, it has got a small engine, it consumes less fuel than all the cars on the road, this car might just be right for grocery shopping at a local market, or the very first car for young teenage driver. But as the saying goes, “Don’t judge the book by its cover.”
Step inside, fire up the engine and all our prejudice vanished! Our first notice was that the air conditioning gave such a cool breeze feeling like it was wintertime (in Bangkok). The car's cabin cools in no time, and it even has a heater! In-car entertainment comes with a factory made radio AM/FM and one CD function. The upholstery is firm, but the rear seats are quite small. The trunk is also quite small but good enough.
So lets hit the road!
Our destination: Palio, Khao Yai, National Park in the highlands of Saraburi province. As soon as we got out of the Nissan head quarters. Step on it! We soon realized that this car wasn’t an ordinary super sub compact car. Nissan March looks like a mouse, sounds like a beast, and honks like a duck! So we’ve decided to call it the ‘Mad Duck’.
And with the manual transmission, front wheel drive it felt like a sports car, it was a surprise to see this little car over take other cars so easily.
Quick response, fast acceleration, and very good suspension: not too hard, not too soft, but just right. Driving at an average speed of 150-170 km/h, the March car consumes only 14.5 km/l! Handling is steady, good grip in the corners, and no funky smell from the engine after driving it hard for 1 ½ hours. Oh, this is such a good car!
On the way back to Bangkok from the green verdant hills, up scale resorts and vineyards of Khao Yai, we wanted to test the vehicle's performance even more. On the way down hill from Farm Chokchai Milk Farm, good tarmac, dual carriage way, long stretches with of constant decrease in attitude and most cars, buses are driving fast with little braking.
On our way down hill we accidentally challenged a Brabus souped up Mercedes-Benz by accident, and we were suddenly over taking each other. Again and again. When we felt that we were ahead of the Mercedes-Benz Brabus we slowed down and all of a sudden the Mercedes Brabus came from nowhere and passed us by, so we stepped on it and hit nearly a our top speed of 180 km/h and back to racing mode. After nearly half and hour the silver grey Mercedes gave up. Trust me! It was a thrill of a lifetime. Fuel consumption? No worries! You can race to your hearts content. In the racing mode the March consumes only 14.4 km/L
So are you convinced? We are! With the price of only 375,000 THB. So small in size with yet so much power on tap and a friendly price. If there is anything like a good bargain – this must be it. CarSanook! Magazine fully recommends a Nissan March test drive. Don't look at the size. Don't let the price fool you (you'll get more than what you pay for).
Nota Bene: Request the manual transmission model, the “stick shift”. And you'll find out why we call this dinky four door eco car the “Mad Duck”. And don't forget use the horn. HONK! HONK!