YOUNG AT HEART
Pulitzer-prize winning auto critic Dan Neil of the LA Times has some interesting things to say about the Nissan Cube, starting with the following:
"And then there's the air-hating box of ugly, the 2009 Nissan Cube.
The Cube is to aerodynamics what a collapsing bridge is to Olympic diving, what slipping on an icy sidewalk is to "Swan Lake," what poached dirt on toast is to a gourmet breakfast.
It's a travesty, a mockery, a baleful parody of auto aerodynamics. Nissan Motor Co. says the design was inspired by a "bulldog in sunglasses." My question: Which end is wearing the sunglasses?"
You'd almost think he doesn't like the thing,:
"Of course, it's not supposed to be beautiful, if
by "beautiful" you mean sleek, lean, porpoise-like. That's a very old
school, geezerly car aesthetic that simply doesn't resonate with a lot
of young people. For echo boomers and millennials born from 1980 to
1990, beautiful is counterintuitively clumsy, affectedly unsleek,
modular and angular, as in Wii consoles, iPhones and the large,
squarish heads of the Jonas Brothers. It's no accident that Nissan has
tagged the Cube its "mobile device."
To bring you up to speed a bit: The Cube is a huge hit for Nissan in Japan, and now -- given a projected upswing in the small crossover segment in the U.S. -- the company has homologated it for the North American market. Built on Nissan's B-platform chassis (used in the Versa and Sentra), the Cube is powered by a 1.8-liter, 122-horsepower four cylinder; offers a choice of automatic or six-speed manual transmission; and is nicely equipped for $13,990, including stability control.
Why is stability control important? Because the Cube is aimed at relatively inexperienced drivers, those 18 to 25 years old. I would never let my new driver on the road without stability control. Seriously."
Here's why the car is a bit different than most, even cars like Toyota's Scion, aimed at the youngest driving demographic:
"Though I am several decades beyond the target audience, I get it. The
Cube's interior -- the faraway windshield, the nearly vertical
windshield pillars, the open seating, the airy cabin and towering
headroom -- is more studio loft than economy car.
For a car only 156.7 inches in length, over a wheelbase of 99.6 inches, the Cube is Alice's looking glass of unexpected vastness. There are trays and flat surfaces carved into the doors and dash, places to throw stuff. There's a kind of flower-box divot built over the dash and bungee straps built into the doors to hold things such as pens, iPods, sandals . . . what-everrr.
You might think all the headroom would go to waste -- I could wear a large raccoon on my head while driving, no problem. What I found is that with the open space, people in the back can comfortably carry on a conversation with the people in the front without feeling like they are breathing down their necks. So the car is uniquely social, which is how the kids like their media too."
He ends with the following:
"With a little more money, kids can step up to the Krom package
(pronounced "chrome"), with 16-inch alloy wheels, a thumping
six-speaker stereo with iPod interface, tastier upholstery and interior
lighting. At less than $20,000, the Cube Krom seems like a genuinely
With high style and an even higher coefficient of drag, the Cube seems to have what it takes to captivate the living-in-the-parents'-basement set. How far it will reach beyond that demographic, I'm not sure. It sure is boxy.
Raccoons for everybody."