CC Capsule: Cube Squared, and Squares Cubed – A Look at the Near-Forgotten Nissan Cube

(first posted 5/1/2018)    CC reader Franco P. sent me this shot of two Nissan Cubes side-by-side. A while back, this might not have been so unusual, but the Cube is quickly slipping into obscurity, at least from a subjective point of view, if not quite truly rare.

As a die-hard lover of the boxy genre, I was sorry to see that the Cube never caught on. I had high hopes for the Cube, and reviewed one back at the other site. The Cube arrived just about the same time as the unfortunate gen2 xB was replacing the original, and to me it was the closest thing to a successor to the gen1 xB. But even I was a bit less than totally enthused, as the gen2 Cube also lost some of the charm of its predecessor.

The previous generation of Cube (gen2), available only in Japan,  was truly charming, and the black A pillar gave the roof a floating feeling, supported only by the B pillar. Something a bit like a Japanese parasol or such. And of course the front end was cuter too.


The gen3 Cube lost that levity, and came off a bit too heavy and thickened-out. But it was still the most unique thing on the roads in the US at the time.

To me, these kind of boxes on wheels were the more obvious replacements of the low, three-box sedan, not CUVs. They’re more space efficient, lighter, and they are by far the most ergonomic vehicle in terms of entry and exit, due to their low floor and chair-high seating. But boxes are just not the right image, at least in the US and Europe. The Cube did very poorly in Europe and sales stopped there already in 2011. And in the US, the plug was pulled in 2014. Does “cartoonish” sum it up?

Just like the world wasn’t ready for Exner’s asymmetrical ’62s, so it was with the Cube. Well, I need to exempt Japan from that, as they embraced its asymmetry quite lovingly.  Farewell, Cube; we hardly knew you.

You may have wondered what the second part of the headline “Squares Cubed” referred to. Here it is. it’s not the first time these three have congregated. Two of them used to live at this house just a couple of blocks from me, but they’ve moved on (kids, maybe). But they were back the other day, so I couldn’t resist the opportunity. I see these folks are hanging on to their xBs like I am to mine. It’s now almost 14 years old, and as reliable as a…toaster.