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 |   |   |  New Nissan Cube Car - Love Comes In A Whole New Box
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New Nissan Cube Car - Love Comes In A Whole New Box

Joy Ride

Jonathan Wong
Dec 1, 2009
Photographer: Sean Klingelhoefer

2010 Nissan Cube I love the Cube. There, I said it. This oddly-shaped and quirky looking (let's just say it) "box" has me feeling excited and the last time I felt like that was this morning at 6something a.m. and also when the first gen Scion xB came out a few years ago. It's a superb offering for the B-spec market from Nissan, making up plenty of ground over the Versa sedan mostly because it just looks and performs like it is: totally f'in bueno. And in a small car segment that's quickly growing by the minute, it's good to see another JDM original take over and score big in the realm of cool.

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Like most B-specs out there trying to make its mark, the Cube automatically nails it with an appeal that those outside of the enthusiast core will appreciate. It's as if Nissan's designers took all things hipster and futuristic and applied it to an automotive theme, but the best part is you won't feel like you're trying to be too cool. Inside, the modern approach to design might leave you (as it did me) with a few "WTF?" moments, like the swirl-shaped roof liner, bungee cords sprinkled on the door panels and center console or the random shag carpet on top of the dashboard that can only be described as maybe a spot to leave your iPhone or squash air fresheners in style. The climate controls are operated very easily through a series of soft-touch buttons in a single circular area while the gauge cluster speaks volumes to the eyes, displaying brightly for the driver and all those who dare fall victim to its song. Our model didn't come with the Rockford Fosgate sub or portable navi, so we were left unable to rock out with our (bleeps) out, but we could easily stage our own light show with the 20-color LED under-panel lights and illuminated Cube side door sills.

The cool thing about the Cube is that you either get it or you don't. Take it for what it's worth: looks weird, looks dope, kinda girly, whatever; I think that's the point. It's supposed to make you stare. Even the optional aero kit is a subtle enhancement and had someone not mentioned it, I probably would've never noticed it was there. The front end really needs the lower fog lights and lip to visually "lower" the body lines while the rear trunk benefits from the optinal roof spoiler; we'd even opt for the Hyper daytime running lights and side window deflectors for the true JDM look, but please leave all the chrome trim out or paint them flat black.

But the big question remains: how will the Cube take to modifications and the aftermarket arena? With a more than sufficient 1.8L MR18DE, the 122hp (unfortunately) isn't enough to come close to touching the VQ37VHR (or anywhere close to the VR38DETT if it tried) but we're sure the basic bolt-ons will yield easy results, and those daring to fit a custom turbo kit can see something close to the 200hp mark. A stiffer suspension and a mildly bigger brake kit (think at least rotors, pads and lines if calipers are out of the question, which is more than likely) will help greatly and the fenders seem as if you can squeeze a set of decently wide wheels under there. Slammed, we see it more as an aggressive and stylish street cruiser, even if it can't perform like its older brothers. Alternatively, Nissan also offers the Krom version Cube, which is more of a decked out blinger that will save you time from having to modify anything on your own although everything is cosmetic rather than performance minded. We still say if you're going after a Cube, you need to give it your own brand of love. Fix it up the right way with a little bit of creativity because we see nothing but good things for this car for years to come.

Staff Thoughts Starting at $14k, I don't think you can find a car in the same price range that's more hip. I was actually very shocked to see the Cube here in the States being that this is the third generation. Years ago, I heard rumors that the second gen one was suppose to be sold stateside, but that never happened. So this time around, I didn't think they would bring this one over either. Nissan, Toyota and Honda all have tons of super cool small cars that don't ever see roads outside of Japan. I'm glad it didn't become one of those.

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After talking to the executives at Nissan, they said the first two never came over because they were never intended to be made in left-hand-drive format. And because of that, they couldn't re-engineer it with the steering column and rack-and-pinion on the left. This time around the third gen Cube was designed so engineers could reconstruct the car to be a LHD. Nissan didn't just stop at the steering wheel; the entire rear end was converted to the opposite side. The rear door was changed over so it would open towards the curb, when parallel parked. That avant-garde rear bending rear window was also inverted to the right side.

If you have to buy a new car, and your price bracket is in the mid teens, I'd suggest the Cube. The Beetle and Mini just don't look cool anymore these days. And the Prius is just in a completely different price bracket. There aren't a lot of cars that look cool and at the same time are functional. As small as it looks from the outside, the inside of the car has tons of head- and rear-seat room. My favorite feature is that the rear seats not only recline, but slide back and forth on sliders. Now you might think that the car looks similar to a Scion xB, but the Cube actually came out long before the bB did in Japan.

Adding to the utility of the car, I love that fact that the manual version has a six-speed transmission. With the DOHC 1.8L engine this thing has some balls for a small car. 11-inch front rotors are also enticing for tuners like myself. Look hip, get some use out of it, and the manual has more pep than most other small, inexpensive cars. It's hard to compare this car to anything else new in the same price range. - Charles Trieu

Faster facts
2010 nissan cube

The sticker starting at $13,990

Under the hood Mr18de dohc 4-cylinder engine

The power 122 hp @ 5,200rpm; 127 lb-ft @ 4,800rpm

Scale tipping 1,687lbs Layout front-engine, front-wheel-drive

Gearbox xtronic cvt (continuously variable transmission)

Stiff stuff independent strut with coil springs (front)/torsion beam rear axle with integrated 24.6mm stabilizer bar (rear); 20mm front stabilizer bar

Rollers 16x6 aluminum alloys; 195/55r16 v-rated, all-season tires

Stoppers 11-inch front vented disc rotors and 11.7-inch rear drum brakes With abs

At the pump 28mpg city/30mpg highway

The pack scion xd, honda fit, kia soul

Deep thoughts nissan finally enters the b-spec class with fun and innovative style, even if it's not the fastest piece of equipment out there. But then again, you're saving serious coin and nobody said getting the cube to perform was out of the realm of possibility.

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By Jonathan Wong
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