A Brief Look at the Nissan Cube

Nissan Cube Picture

The Beginnings of the Nissan Cube

The Nissan Cube was first introduced in 1998 and was initially only available for the domestic Japanese market. The design was created by Naoki Sakai, who drew inspiration from the portable cubic structures popular in Japan at the time. The first generation of the Nissan Cube, known as the Z10, was sold between 1998 and 2002.

The Z10 Nissan Cube model offered both four and five-speed manual options, as well as a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The car had a boxy shape, with a high roofline and short hood, and was powered by a 1.3-liter or 1.4-liter engine. The first generation Cube was not a major commercial success, selling only around 6,000 units per year in Japan.

The Second Generation: The Z11

The second-generation of the Nissan Cube, known as the Z11, was launched in 2002. With this release, the car was finally made available for export to international markets, including the United States. The Cube Z11 was designed with an emphasis on practicality and function, with a more aerodynamic front and a range of customizable interior features.

In Japan, the Z11 Cube came in two versions: the standard Cube, and the Cube Rider, which had a more sporty look with a lower front bumper. The Cube Rider also had the option of all-wheel drive, which was unique for a vehicle of its size and class.

The second generation Cube had a larger 1.5-liter engine and was available in both manual and CVT options. It was also equipped with a unique feature known as “e-4WD,” which used the car’s continuously variable transmission to transfer power between the front and rear wheels as needed for added stability and traction in slippery conditions.

The Third Generation: The Z12

In 2008, Nissan released the third-generation Cube, known as the Z12. This iteration of the Cube was designed to appeal to a younger, more fashion-conscious audience. It featured a more rounded, curvy design, with distinctive asymmetrical rear windows and a bold grille that incorporated the Nissan logo.

The Z12 Cube was slightly larger than its predecessors, and was available with a 1.5-liter or 1.8-liter engine. It also featured a range of customizable features, from bold color choices to unique interior design options like shag carpeting and “floating” instrument panels.

One of the key innovations of the third-generation Cube was the introduction of the Cube “Cube-Car” concept, which emphasized the compactness and versatility of the vehicle. The goal was to create a vehicle that could be used for everything from commuting to work to camping and outdoor adventures.

The Fourth Generation: The Z12

In 2014, Nissan released the fourth-generation Cube, known as the Z13. This version of the Cube was designed with an emphasis on safety and environmental sustainability, with advanced safety features like lane departure warning and a multi-view camera system.

The fourth-generation Cube also had a more aerodynamic design, with a sleeker profile and narrower headlights. It was powered by a 1.5-liter engine and was available with both manual and automatic transmission options.

Despite these updates, the fourth-generation Cube was not particularly successful, and was discontinued in 2019. One possible reason for its lack of success was a shift in consumer preferences towards SUVs and crossover vehicles, which offer more interior space and higher ground clearance than the Cube.

The Legacy of the Nissan Cube

Although it was not a commercial success, the Nissan Cube has established a cult following among a certain subset of car enthusiasts. Its distinctive, boxy design and customizable features have made it a popular choice for customization and racing mods. In Japan, where the Cube was most popular, it is often seen as a symbol of youth culture and individuality.

The Nissan Cube has also had a significant impact on automotive design, inspiring a range of boxy, compact vehicles like the Scion xB and the Kia Soul. Its emphasis on practicality and versatility has helped to redefine the way that consumers think about small cars, and has contributed to a trend towards more customizable and compact vehicles.


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