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LA show: Cube goes global

Cult status: The Cube has proven to be a hit for Nissan.

Nissan springs a new-generation Cube out of the box in LA

20 Nov 2008

AFTER a decade as a mostly-Asian phenomenon, the Cube goes global in its all-new, third-generation guise.

Revealed this week at the Los Angeles motor show, the self-consciously boxy five-door hatchback retains much the same visual language of its successful Z02 predecessor released in 2002.

This includes the famous/infamous square shape, asymmetrical glasshouse design (the left-hand-side profile is distinctly different to the right side), ovoid rear window ensconced within a ‘fridge door’ side-opening tailgate, and a long wheelbase relative to the vehicle’s length – with virtually no front or rear overhangs.

For the record, the Cube’s 2530mm wheelbase sits within a 3980mm-long shadow.

Nevertheless, a closer inspection reveals a very different vehicle in details, sporting a larger and stronger body and a roomier cabin featuring vastly improved quality, a ‘Jacuzzi Curve’ layout featuring lounge-style seating with a theatre-style raised rear bench that slides to and fro, and a symmetrical dashboard.

Nissan likens the head-on styling to “a bulldog wearing sunglasses”, referring to the Cube III’s redesigned face and stouter stance, underlining the increased performance and driving dynamic abilities on offer.

12 center imageOther changes include a significantly larger glass area and more rounded edges.

Under the stubby bonnet is a choice if a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine or a 1.6-litre dCi turbo-diesel courtesy of Renault, but other mechanical details are scarce at the moment.

Again based on the front-wheel drive Micra light-car platform (that also underpins a variety of other small Nissan and Renault models such as the Tiida and Clio), the Japanese company calls the Cube “a completely different take on an automobile – (and) a car that doesn’t want to be defined as a car.”“The designers, engineers and planners’ effort and passion in creating the next-generation Cube was unheard of – perhaps only exceeded in recent memory by that of the Nissan GT-R development team,” said Pierre Loing, Nissan’s European vice-president for product planning.

“They were constantly drawing, cartooning, adding thoughts and ideas, which is how the image of the bulldog emerged and evolved. This was not a traditional development process.”

Officially, Australia is too much of a round hole for this Cube to fit in, with the desired circa-$20,000 pricing unachievable at the moment ($25,000 seems to be the current lowest price Nissan could offer it in Oz).

However, the previous-generation model’s chunky looks and class-straddling charm somehow made this Japan-only model a cult hit in places as far afield as the UK, despite not being officially on sale there.

Now Nissan is hoping that some of the super-successful Mini’s small-car chic will rub off on the new Cube when it goes on sale in the US and Canada next year.

To that end, a much wider range of personalisation options will be available than with the current model.

Read more:

First drive: Nissan Cube inches closer

New York show: US enters Nissan's Cube


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