The original March (chassis name K10) was introduced in October 1982 as a challenger to the highly successful Honda City. It was intended to replace the Nissan Cherry as the company's competitor in the supermini sector, as the Cherry model itself had progressively become larger with each successive generation. It was introduced in the European market in 1983, and in the Canadian market in 1984. Although Nissan was slowly phasing out the Datsun name, a small "Datsun" (ダットサン, Dattosan?) appeared on the tailgate for the first two years, and in some European markets, the car was known as the "Datsun-Nissan Micra". The March was initially available with an extremely refined all-aluminium MA10S SOHC engine. The Datsun badges had disappeared completely by the end of 1984.
The model was revised in June 1985, identifiable by the slightly larger rear lamp clusters. The Japanese market saw the debut of the first March Turbo/MA10ET, where Nissan grafted a turbocharger to the small 1.0L engine. Another facelift came in March 1989, which consisted of some minor upgrades such as deeper bumpers, a new front grille, minor interior details, and headlight changes. It also saw the introduction of an electronically controlled carburettor, the larger MA12 1.2L engine with 60PS (44kW/59hp) and a 5-door hatchback version.