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Nissan Cube (2009) unveiled at LA Auto Show

Published: 19 November 2008

This is Nissan’s funky new third-generation Cube, unveiled at the LA Auto Show today and set to go on sale in North America in spring 2009. But the big news is that Nissan will also finally sell this new Cube officially in the UK, so the Fiat 500 and Mini will have an edgy new Japanese rival from early next year.

The Nissan Cube, eh? Named after its styling then…

Indeed, and apart from a few Scions in the US, you’ve got to admit the Cube looks like nothing else on the road. The asymmetrical styling continues on the third-generation car with that wraparound rear window, while Nissan describes the rest of the exterior design as ‘a whimsical combination of squares and circles’. Quite.

Elements like the bar-type rear lights are designed to make the Cube look wide, rather than tall and boxy. And there are practical touches, like that big side-hinged rear door that can either be opened fully, or just popped eight inches if you haven’t got much room.

With the wheels pushed out to each corner – the 2530mm wheelbase is long in comparison to the overall 3980mm length – those slab sides and a big glasshouse, there’s lots of room (and light) inside the new Cube.

Click ‘Next’ below to read about the Nissan Cube’s interior styling and engine line-up

And what is the inside of the new Nissan Cube (2009) like?

It’ll seat five, with a dash designed to open up even more interior space. And while the exterior shape is a cube (geddit?), the interior designers chose wavy and curvy architecture for the instrument panel, door panels, seat shapes, the oval air vents, the door pulls and that ceiling swirl.

To make the Cube easy and simple to use, the rev counter is backlit in white, while the speedometer is in blue. The needles of both sweep around when the engine is first turned on.

There are also detachable hooks that can be moved around the Cube’s interior, while what Nissan calls ‘Magic Rubber Bands’ are colourful rubber straps that can slot onto door armrests to hold maps and other paraphernalia.  What isn’t quite so practical are the ‘shelves’ atop the dashboard and in front of the passenger. They’re not actually designed to hold any items while the Cube is in motion – though Nissan says they can be personalised with shag carpeting…

So it’s cool, but is it clean?

In the USA, Nissan will offer the front-wheel drive Cube with a 120bhp/127lb ft 1.8-litre four-pot, mated to a CVT or six-speed manual transmisson, and promising over 30mpg. In the UK we’ll get a 1.5-litre diesel or 1.6 petrol, so expect over 40mpg easily.

The new Cube should also be safe if the worst comes to the worst. Standard kit includes ABS, EBD, brake assist, ESP, traction control, a tyre pressure monitoring system, six airbags and active front head restraints.

Would you buy a Nissan Cube over a Note, Mini, Mito or Fiat 500? Click ‘Add your comment’ below and have your say

By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy