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    2012 Nissan cube 1.8S Indigo Special Edition



    William Maley

    Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com

    October 4, 2012

    “And Now For Something Completely Different.”

    Besides being the title for Monty Python’s first film, it was my first thought as a 2012 Nissan cube rolled up into my driveway. Unlike most of the vehicles I had in for testing, the cube was very different. It looked like it had made the leap from an anime cartoon into the real world. As I was signing the form and getting the key to the cube, I wondered if such a clearly Japanese market focused car belongs in North America, the land of V8s and where every other vehicle is an SUV.

    The cube’s design pretty much matches the name of the vehicle; it’s a cube. Well, two of them! The first cube is the front end which has a set of narrow headlights sitting between a small, grey grille. Underneath the grille lies an air-intake that looks like a mouth. The second cube is the passenger cell which features recessed door glass and a set of fifteen-inch alloy wheels which come as part of the Indigo Limited Edition package that sit underneath pronounced wheel wells. The back end shows a clever design trick Nissan used on the cube. On the passenger side, Nissan extended the glass from the tailgate around the d-pillar, giving the illusion of full glass. Nissan also mimicked the design of the headlights and grille in the taillights.

    gallery_10485_478_1005149.png

    Inside, the cube has two major design themes; space and waves. The cube’s shape leads the interior an impressive amount of space. Head and legroom are abundant for both front and back-seat passengers. Seats are comfortable for short trips, while long trips will have you wishing for a bit more support. Cargo space is also in abundance thanks in part to a recessed floor and the back seat able to move back and forth.

    gallery_10485_478_493147.png

    Waves are also used throughout in the interior with the headliner, speaker housings, and cup-holders employing a ripple wave effect. The dashboard has a unique wave shape that ‘crests’ where the radio and HVAC controls are. On paper, this sounds ludicrous. But somehow, the waves actually work and give the vehicle a certain pizzazz.

    There are two interior features that had me wondering ‘why?!’ The first is a twenty color interior accent lighting system that lights up the foot-wells and cup-holders. You can change the colors via a knob next to the cup holders. I found it really distracting when driving at night and just left it off. The other feature is “Shag Dash Topper” which is pretty much a piece of shag carpeting on your dash and really is there for decoration. Don’t even think of putting anything on that shag since there is a warning stating that items place on it will fly off.

    Materials used throughout the cube are mostly hard plastics, which is par for the class. Build quality is very good with no sign of gaps or pieces that are separating. Interior ergonomics are excellent, with all controls being within easy reach and feeling good to the hand.

    gallery_10485_478_359308.png

    Now as I mentioned earlier, this particular cube was equipped with the Indigo Limited Edition package. This package adds

    • Fifteen-inch alloy wheels
    • Unique black/indigo cloth seats
    • Keyless entry and start
    • Upgraded sound system with a Rockford Fosgate subwoofer
    • Five-inch touchscreen with navigation
    • XM Satellite Radio
    • USB Input
    • Rear-view Camera

    The package adds about $2,000 to the base price of the cube 1.8S. For what you get with the package, I think it’s very much worth it. The touchscreen that comes part of the package is on the small side, but is bright and very clear. The navigation system is quick to respond and provides excellent map detail. As for the sound system, it does a impressive job of filling the vehicle with sound, albeit it’s heavy on the bass.

    Next: Power, Ride, and Verdict


    Powering the cube is a 1.8L inline-four producing 122 HP (@ 5,200 RPM) and 127 lb-ft (@ 4,200 RPM). Transmissions include a six-speed manual or our car’s Xtronic CVT. The engine is well-suited to driving in the city as it’s very peppy and can get up to speed very quick. The same cannot be said for the 1.8L when driving out in the country and highway as the engine works hard to get you up to speed. The Nissan CVT is one of best and makes sure that you have the power when needed.

    gallery_10485_478_594516.png

    Fuel economy rating for the cube is 27 City/31 Highway/28 combined with the CVT. During our week with the cube, our average was 31.5 MPG on mostly suburban and rural roads.

    The cube uses an independent front strut with coils and a torsion-beam rear axle with integrated stabilizer bar. The ride is very much tuned for comfort with the cube doing a good job of minimizing the impacts of bumps and potholes. Steering comes in the form of an electric system. The steering is super-light and heavily assisted, which makes the cube a perfect vehicle to maneuver around the urban environment. Taking the cube outside of an urban area, the ride is still very smooth and I was wishing for a little more weight in the steering.

    One place the cube could some work is noise containment. Under 45 MPH, road and wind noise is not really noticeable. However, when you do reach 45 MPH or higher, wind and road noise is very noticeable. Most of the wind noise can be blamed on the shape of the cube. If you’re driving has a lot of freeway or driving above 45 MPH, you might want to consider something else.

    Ultimately as my week concluded with the Nissan cube, I realized this car could make it in the real world. The cube is one of those vehicles built with a specific need in mind; in this case it’s built with need of serving someone in an urban environment. Take the cube out of the urban environment and you’ll be facing some huge problems including seats that don’t provide enough comfort for long trips, engine doing its best impression of the little train that could, and an atrocious amount of road and wind noise.

    The Nissan cube might be bit cartoonish at first, but it’s very good vehicle in the city environment.

    gallery_10485_478_528757.png

    Disclaimer: Nissan provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gasoline.

    Cheers

    Exterior Design

    Features from Indigo Special Edition Package

    Interior space

    Engine performance in the city

    Maneuverability and ride

    Jeers

    Road and Wind noise when going above 45 MPH

    Seats becoming uncomfortable after a long distance

    Limited performance of the engine above 45 MPH

    Year - 2012

    Make – Nissan

    Model – Cube

    Trim – 1.8S Indigo Special Edition

    Engine – 1.8L Inline-four

    Driveline – Front-Wheel Drive, CVT

    Horsepower @ RPM – 122 HP (@ 5,200 RPM)

    Torque @ RPM – 127 lb-ft (@ 4,200 RPM)

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 27/31/28

    Curb Weight – 2,768 lbs

    Location of Manufacture – Oppama, Japan

    Base Price - $17,420.00

    As Tested Price - $20,975.00 (Includes $780.00 Destination Charge)

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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    Interesting, in the city, it seems to be a perfect fit and option, but even then, I find the price very high compared to alternative auto's out there in this same market segment.

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    Interesting, in the city, it seems to be a perfect fit and option, but even then, I find the price very high compared to alternative auto's out there in this same market segment.

    Could not agree more, test drove one of these and was really under whelmed.

    Thought that they were cancelling this pig....they must not have...

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    Interesting, in the city, it seems to be a perfect fit and option, but even then, I find the price very high compared to alternative auto's out there in this same market segment.

    I disagree on the price since the Kia Soul and Scion xB would cost a little bit more when equipped like the cube.

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    Interesting, in the city, it seems to be a perfect fit and option, but even then, I find the price very high compared to alternative auto's out there in this same market segment.

    I disagree on the price since the Kia Soul and Scion xB would cost a little bit more when equipped like the cube.

    And while I am not a total GM humper like some here...let me point out....that the HHR was much better than any of the above and has already been discontinued as obsolete...

    Focus is a much better real world car than any of the above, IMHO>

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    Interesting, in the city, it seems to be a perfect fit and option, but even then, I find the price very high compared to alternative auto's out there in this same market segment.

    I disagree on the price since the Kia Soul and Scion xB would cost a little bit more when equipped like the cube.

    Those are both over priced also for what you get. A cheap POS sold to keep people from having better auto's especially when you look at the price.

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    I would never consider trading my obsolete HHR for this.

    This is an example of the kind of quirky design that is so popular in Japan. While it filled a odd niche here it just lacked some of the styling that Kia Soul gives. While the Kia is also a box it tries to be a little more normal.

    You would be amazed at how popular Astro vans are in Japan. We deal with customers over there who are buying parts for them and the last gen of the Caprice wagon.

    I for the life of me would like to know what the hell they were thinking when they put that shag rug pizza on the dash.

    I have been in and around this thing and if you want usability it is fine but if you have any sense of conventional style you would hide behind tinted glass if you owned this.

    There are two types of polarizing design out there. On one side are vehicles like the Cube and IQ and on the other is the HHR, Soul and PT. There is a line that gets crossed to where the neat or cool factor of being different gets crossed and the Cube has crossed over.

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    Because even for me, the Asian car lover on the forum...there is a line you don't cross....ugh...

    And I wasn't saying the HHR was bad...far from it..just that GM had moved on to the Cruze and better things...Nissan seems stuck in the past in a bad way in some of their designs....

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    Icy Cube?

    Dash is kinda cool - like the front end, but the shape is like a rounded off shoebox. Love the HHR's, was impressed on how solid it (HHR) felt when I first drove one.

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    I did not take it that you said the HHR was bad. I just was pointing out that the HHR came near the line but did not cross it for many buyers where the Cube did.

    why you gotta be so icy toward the cube

    I sit in a Cubical every day every day at work. The last thing I would want to do is drive it home.

    I think sales have told the story on this one and the one thing that hurt it was the styling. Even people tired of the element and the Scion is not selling like it used to.

    Lets just hope they do not move to triangles. That would mean three wheelers and we have already had enough Robin Reliant jokes already.

    Edited by hyperv6
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    I did not take it that you said the HHR was bad. I just was pointing out that the HHR came near the line but did not cross it for many buyers where the Cube did.

    why you gotta be so icy toward the cube

    I sit in a Cubical every day every day at work. The last thing I would want to do is drive it home.

    I think sales have told the story on this one and the one thing that hurt it was the styling. Even people tired of the element and the Scion is not selling like it used to.

    Lets just hope they do not move to triangles. That would mean three wheelers and we have already had enough Robin Reliant jokes already.

    On the copntrary, a British Morgan three weheeler would be awesome....Funky can be cool lioke the Morgan, or just plain bad like the Cube...shag carpet on the dash...really...?

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    I did not take it that you said the HHR was bad. I just was pointing out that the HHR came near the line but did not cross it for many buyers where the Cube did.

    why you gotta be so icy toward the cube

    I sit in a Cubical every day every day at work. The last thing I would want to do is drive it home.

    I think sales have told the story on this one and the one thing that hurt it was the styling. Even people tired of the element and the Scion is not selling like it used to.

    Lets just hope they do not move to triangles. That would mean three wheelers and we have already had enough Robin Reliant jokes already.

    On the copntrary, a British Morgan three weheeler would be awesome....Funky can be cool lioke the Morgan, or just plain bad like the Cube...shag carpet on the dash...really...?

    A Morgan is a cool unto its own. I just saw a new one the other day in the RAF trim. I wish they were not so cheap. Besides with the two wheels in the front they are not a tippy.

    As for the shag rug pizza on the dash....just look at it in the Cube. Or is it where the pizza delivery boy puts the pizza on the way to your house? I assume it is some kind of speaker?

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    Not a speaker. It is just a shag carpet pizza that sits there. It's fully removable, not even a velcro patch to attach it. It does not slide around though.

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    Not a speaker. It is just a shag carpet pizza that sits there. It's fully removable, not even a velcro patch to attach it. It does not slide around though.

    There is a velcro patch

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    Is there any mystery use for this Shag Pizza other than to attract attention to a odd styling idea?

    Ori is it one of those things you just have to be from Japan to understand.

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    I suppose nif your a ceramic frog, this is the car for you, just like if your a hamster the Soul is your car.

    For actual humans however, GM has a nice lineup...as do Ford, Mazda, Chrysler, VW, BMW, etc....

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    A Nissan designer must have went on vacation in Barcelona, saw Antoni Gaudi's Casa Batllo, and thought, "I know, let's make a car like that!"

    nissancubec.jpg

    barcelona-casa-batllo-interior-4-large.jpg

    original.jpg

    Casa%20Batllo%20Antonio%20Gaudi.JPG

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