The Auto Trader expert verdict:
The Nissan Cube is quirky, yet enjoyable to drive. Its as different inside as it is out, making it perfect for those wanting to stand out from the crowd.
Reasons to buy:
- Quirky styling
- Enjoyable to drive
- Spacious interior
How good does it look?
If there’s one area in which the Nissan Cube stands out, it’s those exterior looks. Guaranteed to generate plenty of second takes, the Cube is one of those cars you either love or hate – there’s no middle ground. Whichever side you take, you can’t deny that Nissan has been bold. Boxy and tall, with a bluff nose and very short overhangs, one of the most distinctive features is the asymmetric rear. Whereas the driver’s side has a conventional pillar, the passenger’s side features a wraparound darkened window.
What's the interior like?
The bold design continues inside, although things aren’t quite as striking. The headlining features a ripple effect while the dash is simple but modern. The Cube’s interior is unconventional, but it’s also well laid out. Because the Cube has such a high roof line, there’s masses of head room for all occupants, and there’s a decent amount of legroom as well, as long as the back seat is slid rearwards, which reduces boot space. What’s not so good is the amount of comfort on offer, as the seats are rather flat and unsupportive.
How practical is it?
This is where the Cube isn’t quite so impressive, because there’s very little boot space – just 255 litres with the rear seats in place and in their rearmost position. Fold them down and the available space rises to just 403 litres – disappointing for such a boxy car. The back door is also side-hinged, which means there needs to be a lot of space behind the car to gain access to the boot. Things are made even worse by a high loading sill, which hinders access even further.
What's it like to drive?
This is where the surprises start, because despite the quirky design, its pretty adept on the move. As an around town cruiser, the Cube is brilliant; it rides well and the handling isn’t bad – this is no sportscar, but as a city car Nissan has set the chassis up just right. As speeds rise it’s less accomplished, but even on the motorway its fine.
How powerful is it?
Around town – and beyond – the Cube has as much performance as you’re likely to need. The CVT automatic gearbox makes light work of congestion while acceleration from a standing start is very good. Just one engine is offered in the Cube, a 1.6-litre petrol producing 110bhp and 113lb ft of pulling power. With the standard manual gearbox there’s a 109mph top speed while 0-62mph takes 11.3 seconds. Opt for the CVT gearbox and the top speed drops to 105mph while the 0-62mph time climbs to 12.4 seconds.
How much will it cost me?
Regardless of which transmission is fitted, all Cubes sit in insurance group 15. Predictably, choosing the automatic (CVT) gearbox results in increased fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. The manual Cube officially averages 42.8mpg while emitting 151g/km of CO2 – the equivalent CVT figures are 40.3mpg and 159g/km. Depreciation shouldn’t be too steep, as limited supply helps to shore up used values.
How reliable is it?
Nissan has long enjoyed an enviable reputation for building some of the most dependable cars on the road. There’s no reason to think the Cube will fail to help Nissan maintain that position, as it feels solidly built and on our test car there were no signs of weakness.
How safe is it?
As you’d expect, the Cube comes with plenty of standard safety kit, including ESP, six airbags, anti-lock brakes, traction control and seat belt pre-tensioners for those in the front – all five occupants get three-point seat belts. Unfortunately though, while some key rivals have a five-star EuroNCAP rating, the Cube manages just four stars.
How much equipment do I get?
There are three trim levels to choose from, with entry-level Cubes getting a large glass sunroof, 16-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, electronic stability programme (ESP), air-con, cruise control plus a start/stop button. Opt for the more expensive Kaizen and Nissan throws in climate control, multi-media (including sat-nav), a rear parking camera plus automatic lights and wipers. The special edition LDN gets bespoke brown paint and is limited to 100 units.
The Cube’s killer punch is its unconventional design, but it proves you don’t have to sacrifice usability to have a car that stands out in a crowd.