Although I had put the running report on my Cube on hold, based on the fact that there wasn’t much else to write about it except that I like it, I’m writing something in line with this month’s theme.
Actually, I had intended an April 1st piece detailing the work I’d had done by a sympathetic body shop, cutting mine and a LHD Cube down the middle and mating the two sections in order to impose symmetry. But I missed the deadline.
Three problems have manifested themselves since I last wrote. Noisy brakes, a blowing exhaust and a cracked rear lamp lens. I suspect the lens was something I didn’t notice on purchase – it’s a small crack but water gets in it, builds up and blows the bulbs every few weeks. It’s also dulled the reflective silvering. Since the car was religiously serviced by a main dealer once a year by its previous owner (who really does seem to have been the mythical ‘one careful lady driver), despite averaging only 6,000 mile per annum, I felt I would stick with the network, though I’m not really sure why, since I have no plans to sell it in the near future.
The dealer was efficient, but the visit was costly at £500 for parts to replace the rear and centre exhaust, plus 1 hour labour. The brake inspection revealed nothing of consequence, plenty of meat on the pads and all calipers operating smoothly. The dealer’s suggestion that it might be lack of use of the brakes got an involuntary snort of derision from me. So I guess I’ll have to live with the noise, unless I want to throw away a perfectly usable set of pads and try some more. As for the left hand lamp unit, it will cost £200 from Nissan. So I think we can conclude that the downside to the Cube’s rarity is parts costs.
Other than that it has run flawlessly, with none of the jerky compromises I’ve encountered in some other moderns that seem to put official economy/emissions figures before driver convenience. My opinion hasn’t changed at all. It’s almost perfect for my urban requirements and, although I do have another car I’d rather use for a long country trip, that’s no condemnation of the Cube – it is actually perfectly civilised in that role too. Past and recent criticisms are that a bit more thought could have been put into the luggage and seat-folding area and it would be nice if the huge glass sunroof opened, though it is tinted well enough not to make the inside a hotbed in Summer. Also, because of its near vertical sides, the generously sized mirrors, although great for visibility, stick out further than one is used to on the average car, meaning that gaps in city traffic can turn out to be less generous than they seem. Lastly, the trim options made available for the conservative Europeans were not nearly as varied as those in the home market. I wish that my charcoal coloured interior looked more like this.
Engine fluid levels never seem to change, which means I hadn’t opened the bonnet for so long when I took the picture at the head of this piece, that I couldn’t find the catch. I rather hoped the underbonnet view would be a bit more uncarlike, in an Audi A2 sort of way. But, beneath the shape, the Cube is a very conventional car, of course. Sometimes I have fantasies about the question asked in a previous report – if it’s built on the ubiquitous B Platform, how easy would it be to pop in some Renaultsport running gear? But, really, its lack of performance is good for me – “my name is Sean and I’m a chronic hooner. I haven’t hooned since last June …. hello Sean, welcome to the group”.
It is in many ways the polar opposite of my Citroen, but they do share the property of giving bystanders good-natured amusement. There is nothing pompous or confrontational about its looks, and I like it all the more for that. But I ask myself a question I asked when we discussed grey imports on these pages recently. I’m not sure if there is a replacement Cube planned, and I suspect that the Japanese industry had got less tolerant of these indulgences and, in a way, more cynical into the bargain. The very successful Juke is quirky, but it still gives out the correct Tonka Boy message that it is, at heart, a serious car. However, in reality, it is far less versatile than the Cube. So will the Cube end up being one of the last of a long run of Japanese cars, many unknown in Europe, that combine an irreverence for the orthodoxy of what a proper car should be, with a very real usability?
For the present I have no desire to change it. I can’t think of anything that would better do the job I ask of it, except maybe a BMW i3 or, of course, a hypothetical electric Cube. There is the Kia Soul EV but, compared with the Cube, the Kia doesn’t really have much …. soul.