The Nissan Cube is a mini MPV produced by Japanese carmaker Nissan since 1998. Initially sold only in Japan, the Cube has been sold in North American and European markets since 2009, although discontinued in Europe in 2011. In Japan, it is exclusive to Japanese Nissan dealerships called Nissan Red Stage locations. It is a slightly larger load carrying alternative to the Nissan March hatchback. Since 2014, the Cube has once again been sold only in Japan.
The first generation of the Cube, designated Z10, was introduced in 1998. It shared the same platform as the Nissan Micra (known as the March in Japan and Southeast Asia), as well as the same 1.3 L engine. A continuously variable transmission and four-wheel drive were optional. The Cube covered the gap in the Nissan lineup between the March and the Sunny.
The second generation of the Cube was released in 2002 with a larger interior than the previous model. The combination of angled and curved surfaces was based on the third generation of the March, powered by a 1.4 L I4 engine. The model included the "e4WD" system as an option, which transfers power to the rear wheels when the front wheels spin via a small electric motor on the rear underside of the floor. The electrically powered system allows for reduced drivetrain drag in FWD mode.
A CVT was optional, and was available in a stretched-wheelbase version with seven seats, called the Cube³. With a CVT, the steering wheel button controls and the sport wheel button on the dash panel are located next to the hazard flasher switch. In mid-2005, the cube had an optional upgrade with the new HR-series 1.5 L engine from the Nissan Tiida.
All Cube models have optional extras including an Ion filter (Air Ioniser) for cleaning the air and Nissan's 'smart key' which allows the driver to enter the car without having to use a key. Other options include a sunroof, 12 different styles of front grill and satellite navigation. Other specific models also have different styles of bodykits and fender flares. They come with optional 14 or 15 inch wheels and the Autech version with chrome stylings and a vinyl style of seat covering.
The third generation Nissan Cube was revealed for the first time at the Los Angeles International Auto Show, on November 19, 2008. It was the first generation of the Cube to be officially exported beyond Japan, including to the European and North American markets. The Cube went on sale in Japan on November 19, 2008 and the U.S. on May 5, 2009.
The updated model has more rounded and curved styling in the rear bumper area, in the asymmetrical rear window which wraps around to the passenger side, and in the driver and front passenger windows. The tailgate is side-hinged to swing open like a door, rather than upward like a hatch. The hatch hinge is on the right side for countries with left-hand traffic such as Japan and the UK; on the left side for right-hand traffic markets such as North America.
Seating capacity remains at five. According to Nissan designers, the interior is inspired by the 'enveloping curves of a jacuzzi to promote a comfortable and social atmosphere.' Design cues include a water ripple motif that appears in the headliner and is repeated in details like the speaker covers and cup holders. Nissan has developed an extended line of accessories for Cube to encourage personalization. These include multicolor appliqués that can be placed around air vents and window switches, utility hooks and elastic bands in different colors, variable color LED accent lighting for the footwell and cup holders, and a sculptured piece of color-coordinated shag carpet that sits in a shallow well on the top of the dash.
The third generation Cube is built on the Renault-Nissan Alliance's front-wheel-drive B platform and powered by a 1.5 L HR engine, 16-valve engine with 109 PS (80 kW; 108 bhp). For North America, it uses the 1.8 L four-cylinder engine of the MR family, it produces 122 hp (91 kW) and 127 lb·ft (172 N·m) of torque. Europe uses the HR 1.6 petrol and 1.5 dCi Diesel. All are also used for the Nissan Note and Tiida/Versa. Depending on the engine, it is available with a 5- or 6-speed manual transmission or Nissan's automatic Continuously Variable Transmission. The Cube is capable of averaging 20 km/l (5 l/100 km; 47 mpg‑US) in Japan and doing 28 mpg‑US (8.4 l/100 km) city, and 30 mpg‑US (7.8 l/100 km) highway with its Xtronic CVT transmission. The e-4WD trim contains an electric rear wheel drive motor to assist the gasoline engine powered front wheels.
As a result of power shortages in Japan caused by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, the 2012 Cube made a delayed appearance in the United States in January 2012. The 2012 model had no mechanical or styling changes, but Nissan did introduce a special edition version, the S Indigo with a navigation system, rear view monitor, upgraded audio system, intelligent key and upgraded wheels. New paint colors were available: Pearl White, Brilliant Silver, Gun Metallic, Cayenne Red, and Bali Blue. New equipment features were added to certain trim levels. Pricing of the base model went up $240.
In early 2011, Nissan announced the Z12 Cube was to be withdrawn from sale in the UK and the rest of Europe, following its disappointing sales performance. Nissan cited a poor exchange rate as one of the reasons why the model failed to be competitive.
The Cube was discontinued in the North American market at the end of the 2014 model year, due to poor sales, making the current generation Nissan Cube strictly a Japanese-market model.
It is a test vehicle with 80 kW motor and lithium-ion batteries.
Nissan claimed the production version would be introduced in 2010 will have a unique bodystyle and is not based on any existing Nissan model. However, the only production electric vehicle announced since then was Nissan LEAF, which was based on Nissan Tiida.
Nissan provided visitors at the 2008 LA Auto show with a brochure featuring the car using augmented reality technology by Total Immersion (augmented reality). The brochure is held up to a webcam of which various 3D models of the vehicle will pop out offering views of the car's exterior and interior in real-time interaction with the brochure.
To promote the first Cube model to arrive in Canada, Nissan Canada ran a contest in early and mid-2009 to give away 50 Nissan Cubes to "creative Canadians". The marketing campaign, called 'hypercube', picked 500 Canadians to compete for 50 Cubes by showing their creative talents. The winners received their Cubes at events held in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal.
A recall was announced in the United States by Nissan on July 21, 2010, that affected 46,000 MY 2009 and 2010 Cube vehicles for failing to comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 301, "Fuel System Integrity", due to excessive fuel leakage after a rear-end collision.2009 Kelley Blue Book named the Nissan Cube one of its Top 10 Coolest Cars Under $18,000.
2010 Nissan Cube rated a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
2010 Automobile Design of the Year Award.
2010 Kelley Blue Book lists the Nissan Cube as one of its Top 10 Road Trip Cars.
2010 AAA Top vehicle picks for dog owners.
2010 Nissan Cube wins AutoPacific's Best in Class Vehicle Satisfaction Award.