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Car Review: 2004 Nissan Cube

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

By Autoline Detroit

The model is sold only in Japan

Youíve seen the boxy styling shapes that are coming out of Japan these days. Now Nissan is toying with the idea of bringing its boxy car, called the Cube, to the American market.

The styling that you see here on the Cube actually came out in Japan nearly two years ago. It was designed to provide the maximum amount of interior room in a relatively small package. How small? Well, in all its major dimensions, the Cube is quite a bit smaller than the Scion Xb.

Despite its boxy shape, the Cube has some very interesting styling features. For example, it uses asymmetrical c-pillars from side to side. And the sideways opening rear door also has an asymmetrical design.

Inside itís equipped with comfortable, well-upholstered seats, that have wide arm rests to convey the sense of sitting on a sofa. And thereís a slightly longer version of the car, called the Cubic, which actually offers three rows of seats. The Cubic also has a slightly different front grille.

This car is powered by a 1.4 liter engine coupled to a CVT transmission. It produces 88 horsepower, but with the Cube only weighing a little over 2100 pounds itís not as slow as it might sound, but itís certainly not quick.

There is also a four-wheel-drive option, which uses an electric motor connected to the rear wheels. This eliminates the need for a drive shaft running down the middle of the vehicle, and eliminates any powertrain drag unless itís engaged.

Nissan is keeping a keen eye on the Honda Element and the Scion Xb and would love to bring the Cube to the American market. Nissan says it would price it as a more premium car than the Scion. But since itís already two years into its design cycle, Nissan will wait until the next version of the Cube comes out before bringing it over here, probably sometime in 2007.

And thatís Autoline Detroitís sneak peek of the Nissan Cube.