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Hip to be Nissan Cube

It’s been said many times before that everything old is new again in the automotive world.<br />

It’s been said many times before that everything old is new again in the automotive world.

Take Nissan’s new Cube compact wagon.

Although it’s a newcomer to the North American stage for 2009 after making its debut in Japan way back in 1998, the Cube’s squared-off design is really not all that new.

Think back to the early days of the automobile and cars that we remember like the Ford Model A and Model T. Both had that boxy, squared-off look that was common with automobiles of the day.

Fast forward to 2009 and the Nissan Cube enters a marketplace already featuring the Kia Soul and the Honda Element with similar “box on wheels” type designs in a marketplace that for years has been dominated by vehicles with curvy, flowing lines.

Nissan is hoping the Cube resonates with a younger audience thanks to its, well, Cube-like design.

Because of its boxy, unique design, the Cube is both functional and distinctive in an entry-level segment made up largely of look-alike vehicles.

And to allow customers to further personalize their Cubes, a variety of accessories are being offered right from launch time rather than a few months down the road as usually happens with a new model.

Among the accessories is a funky interior accent illumination package that allows the driver to select from 20 different colours or have the colours cycle automatically. More than 40 other “personalization options” are available including an under-body package featuring spoilers and body cladding.

Already available at dealerships in Canada, the Cube is offered in two trim levels. Both offer the same 122 hp 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine, starting at $16,998 for a six-speed manual and $18,298 with a continuously variable (CVT) automatic transmission.

The key to the Cube’s success, Nissan believes, is that it is affordable, economical and functional, yet at the same time fashionable.

The interior can be seen as a “home away from home” or a room on wheels for the digital generation that is always connected, thus the optional technology package not usually offered in entry-level vehicles. Despite its compact size on the outside, the Cube is surprisingly roomy inside with its high roofline and wide stance. There is seating for five and the headliner has an unusual “water drop” ripple effect.

The Cube is a vehicle ideally suited to city driving, with a short turning circle (10 m or 32.8 ft), a short hood that makes it easier to park in tight situations and good rear visibility. On the highway at cruising speed, the cabin is fairly quiet and comfortable.

2009 Nissan Cube
Type: Compact entry-level wagon
Price: $16,998-$21,498
Engine: 1.8-litre 16-valve DOHC four-cylinder engine (122 hp, 127 lb/ft) with six-speed manual transmission optional CVT automatic

• Ideal for urban driving
• Roomy interior
• Fashionable

Cube giveaway
• Nissan Canada recently awarded the Cube to 50 Canadians for the creativity displayed through Hypercube, the nationwide, four-month-long social media campaign. The winners were announced at events simulcast in Toronto (pictured above), Montreal and Vancouver. The Hypercube community established over the past few months will continue beyond the event as winners blog about their life with the Cube for the next year.

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