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Nissan Cube: Buying guide and review (2002-2008)

Nissan Cube: Buying guide and review (2002-2008) Classic and Performance Car
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It only takes the briefest of glances at a Nissan Cube to form a strong opinion of its looks - be they positive or negative. The boxy yet curiously cute styling is undoubtedly divisive, but at least goes to prove one thing: MPVs needn't be boring to look at.
 
Though the first model officially debuted in 1998, it wasn’t until the quirkier styling of its 2002 replacement when the Cube truly embraced the right angles its name suggests. While the overall shape may startle at first, a longer look will reveal a car littered with other details just as distinctive. Thanks to a side-opening tailgate, Nissan designers took the opportunity to include a wraparound rear window on one side, but not the other - in effect making the Cube one of the most proudly asymmetrical car designs on the road. 
 
The unconventional lines bring with them plenty of practical benefits, too. Although measuring 220mm shorter than a Ford Fiesta, the horizontal roofline allows for generous headroom within a cabin fit for five. Thanks to sliding rear bench, boot volume can extend up to 405 litres for those who consider rear legroom less of a priority. The cabin - complete with an appropriately oblong dashboard design - is crammed full of useful storage bins, in addition to two huge glove boxes and four cupholders. Equipment levels are generous by the typical standards of an early 2000s small car: air conditioning is equipped as standard, and features like satellite navigation, xenon headlights and keyless entry all frequently-included optional extras.
 
Though the looks may stand out, the driving experience is the usual supermini faire. Under the skin the Cube shares its platform with its contemporary Nissan Micra, and on the road it behaves in much the same way; light controls, a moderately compliant ride and above average body roll through the corners. Despite the exterior shape, wind noise is less pronounced than one might imagine. Unsurprisingly, all-round visibility is great.
 
Third generation models debuted in 2008, featuring the familiar asymmetric look but with a more rounded appearance inside and out. Though it grew in size slightly, the footprint remains comparable to a regular supermini. Unlike the previous model, the third-gen Cube was officially imported into the UK, and was powered by a Renault-sourced 1.6-litre petrol. UK sales ceased after three years, but the third-gen Cube is still sold in the Japanese market.
 
Which one to buy?
 
Early Cubes featured a 1.4-litre petrol shared with the Micra - the 97bhp unit delivering standard supermini performance. By mid-2005, the 1.4 made way for a slightly more peppy 1.5 (used by the Note in the UK market). Both engines are paired with a CVT gearbox, which features artificial ratios to give the effect of a more traditional auto.
 
In addition to the standard front-wheel drive models, the Cube was sold with the option of a mild hybrid system. Known as the e-4WD, a small electric motor provided extra traction in slippery conditions via a flick of the switch. There is very little penalty in weight or performance thanks to a lack of batteries: the electrical energy is provided by a generator which is hooked up to the engine.
 
For those who find that just a little extra space might come in handy every so often, the Cubic gains a wheelbase stretched by 170mm, and room for an extra pair of seats.
 
Buyers were able to endlessly customise their Cubes from the dealership, with as many as 24 paint colour combinations to choose from - and even 12 separate front grille designs.
 
Performance and specs
 
Engine 1498cc inline four
Power 109bhp @ 6000rpm
Torque 109lb ft @ 4400rpm
Top speed 111mph
0-60mph 5.9secs
Fuel consumption 54.3mpg
Gearbox CVT automatic
 
Dimensions and weight
 
Wheelbase 2430mm
Length 3730mm
Width 1670mm
Height 1640mm
Weight 1100kg
 
Common problems
 
• Sharing so many mechanical components with the Micra, the Cube delivers excellent reliability. Parts are cheap too, and maintenance will be straightforward at any Nissan dealership. However, unique components like the tailgate and rear window glass can be very expensive to replace

• One or two minor electrical gremlins have been noted by owners, most notably concerning the immobiliser and, where fitted, the keyless entry system

• Models produced from 2008 onwards are similarly reliable, though some trim is prone to scuffing - particularly on cars equipped with lighter-coloured plastics
 
Model history
 
2002: Mark 2 Nissan Cube debuts in Japan
2005: 1.4-litre petrol engine replaced by a more powerful 1.5-litre unit
2008: Third-gen Cube production begins. The replacement is larger, gains a more modern interior design and a new 1.6-litre petrol engine. Unlike the previous iteration, it was officially imported to the UK
2011: UK sales of Cube end. A poor exchange rate was cited as the reason for discontinuing sales outside of the Japanese market
 
Owners clubs, forums and websites
 
• forum.cubeownersclub.co.uk
• www.cube-cubic.co.uk
 
Summary and prices
 
The curiosity of the Cube as a concept means that second hand values now remain stronger than those of big-selling superminis of a similar age. Starting prices for the Cube sit at around £2500, which is enough to bag a clean, early second-gen model with fewer than 100,000 miles. From there, values climb towards £5000 for the best examples. The larger and rarer Cubic models tend to be priced marginally higher.
 
Officially imported Mark 3 cars are still holding their values robustly, with prices generally hovering between £6-7000.
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Last updated: 24th Jul 2016
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Nissan Cube
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  • Nissan Cube 2010 may px or swap

    £4,495 £4,495

    Nissan cube 2010 kaizen 1.6 petrol manual 89k fsh mot and taxed hpi clear top of the range with, gl roof, sat nav, reverse camera, blue tooth phone, keyless entry, push button start full electric pack etc, bbs alloys , tinted windows, cube graphics, pearl white gets great comments all the time may px car bike t4 crewcab van car bike just try me call or text 07879043721 swindon

    • Mileage: 89000 mi
    • Engine size: 1598
    For sale
    £4,495 £4,495
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  • Nissan Cube

    £5,295 £5,295

    Air Conditioning, Climate Control, Powered Folding Mirrors, Central Locking, Remote Central Locking, Folding Rear Seats, Adjustable Steering Column, Power Steering, Trip Computer, ABS, Twin Air Bags, Electric Mirrors, Electric Windows, CD Player, Stereo

    • Mileage: 17000 mi
    • Engine size: 1400
    For sale
    £5,295 £5,295
  • Nissan Cube

    £4,995 £4,995

    Air Conditioning, Climate Control, Powered Folding Mirrors, Central Locking, Remote Central Locking, Folding Rear Seats, Adjustable Steering Column, Power Steering, Trip Computer, ABS, Twin Air Bags, Electric Mirrors, Electric Windows, Stereo, CD Player

    • Mileage: 28000 mi
    • Engine size: 1500
    For sale
    £4,995 £4,995
  • Nissan Cube

    £5,295 £5,295

    Air Conditioning, Climate Control, Powered Folding Mirrors, Central Locking, Folding Rear Seats, Adjustable Steering Column, Power Steering, Trip Computer, ABS, Twin Air Bags, Electric Mirrors, Electric Windows, CD Player, Stereo

    • Mileage: 20000 mi
    • Engine size: 1400
    For sale
    £5,295 £5,295
  • Nissan Cube

    £4,995 £4,995

    Air Conditioning, Climate Control, Powered Folding Mirrors, Central Locking, Remote Central Locking, Folding Rear Seats, Adjustable Steering Column, Power Steering, Trip Computer, ABS, Twin Air Bags, Electric Mirrors, Electric Windows, CD Player, Stereo, 15'' Alloys

    • Mileage: 26000 mi
    • Engine size: 1400
    For sale
    £4,995 £4,995
  • Nissan Cube

    £4,995 £4,995

    Air Conditioning, Climate Control, Powered Folding Mirrors, Central Locking, Remote Central Locking, Folding Rear Seats, Adjustable Steering Column, Power Steering, Trip Computer, ABS, Twin Air Bags, Electric Mirrors, Electric Windows, CD Player, Stereo, 15'' Alloys

    • Mileage: 42000 mi
    • Engine size: 1400
    For sale
    £4,995 £4,995
  • Nissan Cube

    £4,995 £4,995

    Air Conditioning, Climate Control, Powered Folding Mirrors, Central Locking, Remote Central Locking, Keyless Entry, Folding Rear Seats, Adjustable Steering Column, Power Steering, Trip Computer, ABS, Twin Air Bags, Electric Mirrors, Electric Windows, CD Player, Stereo, 15'' Alloys High Spec Rider ModelOnly 31,000 Miles From New

    • Mileage: 31000 mi
    • Engine size: 1400
    For sale
    £4,995 £4,995