MIAMI — Nissan isn't the first brand to use a cartoonish design and quirky features to attract young buyers. Scion has been doing it for years. And before Scion, there were the Chrysler PT Cruiser and Volkswagen Beetle.
Now Nissan hopes its Cube will grab the limelight when it launches in May.
Notable features: Nissan Motor Co. redesigned the former Japan-only subcompact to sell the third-generation Cube globally — but mostly in America. It is built off the youth-oriented Versa platform and has been upgraded to the Versa's 122-hp, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine.
Inside, headroom and legroom are surprisingly ample, almost to the point of being an optical illusion. Seating is more substantial, and the chassis and body structure have been reinforced to deliver a solid drive among the sea of trucks on American highways.
But those are merely the mechanics of the Japan-made car. The Cube's real grabber will be the customer's ability to mix and match from a menu of 40 accessories: everything from illuminated kick plates and colored interior lights to a pizza-shaped instrument panel disc made of shag carpet that has no function whatsoever.