"The Nissan Cube's design makes it look like nothing else on the road. It's not the fastest or most practical, but it certainly will turn heads."
With its asymmetrically shaped rear window and boxy interior, the Cube is shamelessly aimed at style-conscious buyers. There's only one engine, a 1.6-litre petrol, which comes with either a conventional manual or CVT automatic gearbox. Two trims are offered, but both are luxurious. Even the standard Cube comes with alloy wheels, a glass roof, air-conditioning, cruise control and electronic stability control. It's fun to drive for its unconventional looks and cabin, rather than the finesse of its handling, while rivals beat it for comfort and outright practicality.
The Cube is designed first and foremost for urban roads. The 1.6-litre petrol engine has 110bhp, which makes the Cube feel brisk in town. We would recommend the CVT automatic, which makes tackling stop-start congestion a breeze. The steering is light, but the suspension is on the soft side - great for town, but not so good on winding country roads.
The engine is quiet on motorway runs, but the upright windscreen and large door mirrors mean wind noise grows as speeds rise. The suspension is comfortable at slow speeds, although the Cube's soft set up does mean some bounce and roll when out of town. The seats are firm, but there's very little lateral support due to flat cushions - the rear seat is little more than a bench.
The interior is full of plastic, but it's good quality stuff and the attention to detail with the design is impressive. There's a water ripple motif in the roof lining, the doors and bottom of the cup-holders, while the cabin's wavy shape is supposed to mimic that of a jacuzzi. It's bathed in light, too, thanks to a standard glass roof. The Cube has a four-star rating from Euro NCAP, and it comes with six airbags and stability control as standard. Nissan's reputation for reliability should leave you nothing to worry about, either.
The Cube's compact people carrier shape offers lots of space, yet practicality is limited inside. The boot isn’t particularly large and the huge side-hinged door can’t be opened fully if anyone parks close to the rear. The front seats are joined to create a couch-like effect, but they’re strictly for two. There's limited cabin storage, too, with a small glovebox and strange slots for elastic bands to help grip oddments to the inside of the doors - they're a novel touch, but limited in their usefulness. There are plenty of cup-holders, though.
Value for money
The Cube will appeal to a small audience, so Nissan is only offering it in two standard trim levels. Either looks like decent value, with the standard Cube getting upmarket equipment like an 'intelligent' key with a push start button, cruise control, air-conditioning, Bluetooth telephone connection, privacy glass in the rear and a large glass roof. Kaizen specification builds on that with climate control, a parking camera and automatic windscreen wipers and headlamps.
With an official combined fuel consumption figure of 42.8mpg, the Cube won’t cost you too much at the fuel pumps. Both the manual and CVT automatic fall into the same £155 annual Road Tax bracket, while insurance and servicing should be inexpensive. Resale values aren’t likely to be as strong as for more conventional small cars - as the audience for the Cube second-hand is relatively small.