In 2002, an all-new second generation Nissan Cube was introduced in the Japanese market. More spacious inside, more glass outside, with more power and, more importantly, a few more angles and curved surface details added to its compact, slab-sided exterior. Quintessentially Japanese, this new Cube took Tokyo by storm. A pocket-sized fun-and-function cocktail mixing the charm of Godzilla and the wit of Mothra, buyers were smitten.
The Nissan Cube soon found an audience outside of Japan – not in person, but through its exposure in fashion and automotive magazines, videos and on the Web.
Back to today, more than 10 years since its original appearance and the Nissan Cube is ready to go global next year in an all-new, dramatically rethought third generation design that is clever, quirky, witty, fun and uniquely functional. And still totally square.
More than just unique geometry, however, the new 2009 Nissan Cube is also conceived as a totally different take on an automobile – a car that doesn’t want to be defined as car. “Combining unique design with true spaciousness and a warm personality, Cube will have a unique place on the market,” said Simon Thomas, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing for Nissan in Europe. “Cube is a vehicle that people of all ages can fall in love with, even if they’re not normally interested in cars.”
Though its uniquely styled, asymmetrical body makes a standout statement against the backdrop of today’s look-alike mainstream vehicles, Cube presents a range of strong rational arguments for purchase as well.
“The new Nissan Cube will be bought by individuals who will see it as an extension of their personality and reflects their individuality,” said Thomas. “Cube customers are not show-offs, but style-conscious and open-minded.”
A ‘Bulldog in Sunglasses’
The all-new 2009 Nissan Cube builds on the existing DNA characterised by its non-traditional design, with an improved stance and an added sense of dynamic movement. With Cube’s long wheelbase relative to its overall length (a 2530mm wheelbase against a 3980mm overall length) and wide track, the wheels, in effect, are pushed out to each corner – providing exceptional space utilisation and a confident-looking stance that is described as a ‘bulldog in sunglasses’.
“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,” explains 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.”
Along with its stance, the ‘incognito canine’ look is aided by the wide headlights and grille treatment, the small but substantial body proportions and the short ‘tail’ section. In the rear, the bar-type taillights reinforce the wide, anchored feel. The Cube’s creators also sought to maintain a sense of ‘pure design’, reducing the number of character lines to give simplicity and freshness to the styling.
Another unique aspect of the Cube’s exterior is the greenhouse. The A-pillars are positioned far outward and relatively upright, giving a wider range of forward visibility.
The front door windows utilise a ‘photo frame’ design patterned after a personal photo frame, while the asymmetrical wraparound side/rear window creates enhanced rear diagonal visibility for lane changes and reverse parking.
“This ‘geometric circle shape in the square’ rear window is Cube’s signature,” said Loing. “Though there are D-pillars on both sides of the Cube, the visual effect of the narrower passenger-side pillar is quite remarkable in the overall appearance, a look aided by the asymmetrical back door.”
Unlike typical top-hinged or clamshell-style utility rear doors, Cube features an easy-access refrigerator-style opening, which makes it possible to open or close it even if parked tight against other cars in parallel parking spaces or when backed in against a wall or other obstacle.
The 2009 Nissan Cube is available in several eye-catching colours, with evocative names like Witty Military, White Pearl, Sea Turquoise and Bitter Chocolate.
And that’s not all. Customers will be able to personalise their Cube, with designs available for the glass roof and also body stickers.
A ‘Casual Lounge’ Interior
“The centrepiece of the new Cube’s universal appeal is its surprisingly roomy interior that offers room for five in a lounge-like comfort. It creates a highly changeable space – for interacting with friends. It’s a space that is highly changeable and adaptable to owners’ evolving lives, with plenty of room for personalisation,” said Loing.
Cube’s clever, inspired and surprisingly open occupant space was conceived with a ‘Jacuzzi Curve’ layout and ‘floating meter pod’ driver’s area. It combines ‘casual lounge’-style passenger seating with a relaxed driving experience. The interactive interior is anchored by its curve-themed architecture, such as the subtle wavy shaping of the instrument panel, door panels, seat shapes, and the iconic ‘Water Drop’ that can be seen in the cupholders and the climate control design. They are inspired by nature and the calming way that ripples move outward from a drop in water.
The comfortable Cube seating includes individual driver’s and passenger seats, along with a ‘lounge sofa’ style sliding rear bench seat.
The sliding rear seat can be adjusted to three positions and is positioned higher than the front seats, theatre style, enhancing rear passenger comfort and visibility. “The new Cube’s interior leaves room for imagination and personalisation, yet also starts with a solid functional purpose,” explained Loing.
Stress-Free Driving, Room For Personalisation
Cube’s stress-free driving experience is the result of a number of factors: a tall seating position made possible by the tall body height, an extremely short bonnet ‘invisible length’ (the area of the bonnet panel that the driver is unable to see) and the good rear visibility for parking and reversing.
The Cube’s interior also benefits from its large sunroof, giving a light and airy atmosphere. As well as the traditional blind to prevent heat build up on sunny days, there is a shoji shade, inspired by traditional Japanese shades made of rice paper which can be drawn across the sunroof, allowing light to enter but minimising heat build up!
Other interior features include the ‘floating pod’ instrument panel with asymmetrical light blue and white gauges, which are designed to make it easier to distinguish between the speedometer and the tachometer. The gauge needles ‘sweep’ when the engine is started to add a sense of flair, while the gradation effect gives a natural ambience similar to the glow of the white moon and the blue earth.
Convenient storage spaces and cup/bottle holders are abundant throughout the Cube interior. There are also detachable multi-hooks for holding bags or hats, which can be moved from place to place – including the instrument panel and rear doors.
The ‘shelf expression’ concept features two ‘shelves’ located on top centre and passenger side of the instrument panel. The shelves can be personalised with accessory
wood-like trim or shag carpeting. Cube’s ‘Magic Rubber Bands’, another clever Cube accessory item, are colourful rubber straps (red, yellow, orange or silver) that slip into cutouts on the door armrests to secure items such as maps, nametags, photos, towels or small stuffed animals.
“The interior concept is really about the Cube conforming to the users’ needs, rather than the other way around – you can put your favourite items anywhere you want, not where the vehicle tells you to,” said Loing. “The designers intended every aspect of the Cube interior be delightful as well as functional.”
The Cube interior is offered in two colour environments, Black and Beige. Both trims come with a quilted suede-like fabric with special ‘natural wave’ stitching designed to provide a combination of relaxation and genuine ‘driving enjoyment’ attitude.
Petrol and diesel engines for Europe
In Europe, the Cube will be offered with a double engine offer, with both 1.5-litre diesel and 1.6-litre petrol powertrains in the European line-up.