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Nissan Cube: Test Drive Review

Date: 06 January 2010   |   Author:

Category: Supermini-MPV
P11D price: £15,100
Key rival: Toyota Urban Cruiser

Nissan already has a functional supermini-MPV in its line-up in the form of the Note, so this Cube-shaped addition is aimed at a more style-conscious customer.

This is the first Cube to make it to the UK, but the car's predecessor has been a success in Japan so this one is going global.

Although only 650 of the 2000 cars allocated to the UK next year are destined for the corporate sector, the company still sees a couple of fleet applications for its new model through both user choosers and companies looking for what Nissan calls a unique proposition.

Unashamedly boxy, hence the name, the Cube is a very style-led take on what is an otherwise low-key and practical segment, but that doesn't mean it's let its usefulness slide. The rear seats slide to allow either decent amounts of legroom or a decent amount of boot space. However, there is a large lip to lift luggage over (a problem that can be overcome with an optional boot divider) and the Cube's usefulness as a load-lugger is severely compromised by seats that fold but don't tumble forward. At the front, the interior is unique and designed with flair without compromising usefulness, helped by an abundance of storage areas for smaller items.

To drive, the Cube is at its best in urban confines, where the light steering and decent visibility from the higher driving position are helpful. At motorway speed there's a lot wind noise, while body roll is also more severe than rivals. However, spec levels are good, with the standard model getting Bluetooth, alloys, cruise control, ESP and rear privacy glass, while the higher of the two trims, Kaizen, adds Nissan Connect navigation system, rear parking camera, auto lights and wipers and climate control for an extra £1100, which sounds like plenty of kit for the money. A 1.5 dCi diesel joins this petrol model later this year.

The big problem with the Cube is that its unassuming supermini-MPV sibling, the Nissan Note, is more than £1000 cheaper and more practical, but without the individual styling that will mark-out the Cube as a potential marketing opportunity for overt fleets.

As a style statement, the new model will find enough favour to comfortably account for the 600 fleet units allocated in 2010. It's just a shame that it hasn't the interior flexibility and isn't as good to drive as the Qashqai and Note that have recently proved that practicality needn't come at a cost.