2009 Nissan Cube

2009 Nissan Cube

Looking for a small boxy hatchback with funky flair that isn't the Scion xB? You'd do well to take a gander at the 2009 Nissan Cube, which debuted this morning at the 2008 Los Angeles auto show.

Though it's technically the third iteration of the Cube model, it's only the second to sport the infamous asymmetrical box look. Perhaps more importantly, it's also the first to officially be sold in America. Though the revamped Cube appeared overseas back in 2002, it took the resounding success of the xB to convince Nissan brass that the Cube could fare well over here.

If you admired the last model from afar, there's a good chance you'll enjoy this one. Much of the previous Cube's styling carries over into the present car, though its front fascia is longer and rounder than in the past. Still, certain tricks - like the wraparound rear window and swing-away door - carry over unchanged, which is certain to excite Cube geeks and new customers alike.

The interior is equally cute, though designers eschewed the box theme inside in favor of a "Jacuzzi Curve" inspiration. We've no idea what that means, but we do see the reclining rear seatback curves into the door panels, not unlike a hot tub. If that's not kitschy enough, shoppers can opt for the "Magic Rubber Band" option, which installs elastic cords on the armrests to help secure odds and ends.

Underneath the styling, the Cube borrows most mechanicals from the Versa, though the Cube is nearly a foot shorter than a Versa hatchback.. All Cubes come equipped with the same 122-hp 1.8-liter DOHC I-4, coupled to either a six-speed manual transaxle or an optional CVT.

Equipment levels seem to be similar to the Versa as well. Though the Cube offers three model trims, each comes standard with ABS, stability and traction control, power locks and windows, six air bags, and air conditioning. Depending on the trim level, buyers can also opt for keyless entry and ignition, Bluetooth phone connectivity, and a Rockford Fosgate sound system, complete with subwoofer.

Nissan's mum on pricing figures at this point, but we'd imagine the Cube won't run much more than a well-equipped Versa. We'll know for certain early next year when the boxy five-doors arrive at Nissan dealers across the country.

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