Nissan Cubic Review

Nissan Cubic front left pictureI love the look of the Nissan Cubic.  So did my neighbours…and most other people, judging by the number of people who give it a 2nd (and sometimes even 3rd) look.  My partner simply referred to it as ‘Postman Pat’ to indicate her dislike.  If you share her opinion, why not click here to find a different car to read about!  For those who haven’t encountered Postman Pat before….this link should explain things.

Assuming we’re agreed that this is a cool looking car, lets go!

Introduced in 2003, the Nissan Cubic is the bigger Brother/Sister to the second generation Nissan Cube.  This review is going to concentrate on the second generation cars: for me the third generation cars (from 2008 onwards) are a little too bulbous and lost a lot of the charm of the second generation Cube/Cubic.  If you have a spare moment, look at the first generation Cube.  I hope you agree this second generation vehicle represented a substantial improvement.

At a quick glance you probably wouldn’t notice the difference between the Cube and Cubic.  The Cubic is 17 cm longer than the Cube and the extra space is used to squeeze in a 3rd row of seats, making the Cubic a 7 seater car.  Also useful to know is that the rear seats fold flat to the floor, so you could just think of the Nissan Cubic as a Cube with a larger boot.  Nissan must have guessed the rear seats might spend a lot of time in the folded flat position as they equipped the car with special holders for the headrests from these seats!

Engine and transmission

The engine is Nissan’s 4 cylinder 16 valve CR14DE unit, running on standard unleaded petrol.  It has a timing chain rather than a belt, which can be both a strength and a weakness depending on the care and attention it receives.  This same engine is found in the K12 Micra, as are many other parts on the Nissan Cubic and Cube.  You could think of the Cubic as a stretched and much cooler Nissan Micra automatic.

Later facelifted Cubics from 2005 started to feature a 1.5 litre HR15DE engine, with a power increase to 109 hp from 98 hp in the 1.4 litre engine.  These cars have the model code YGZ11, whereas the ‘original’ 1.4 litre cars have the code BGZ11.

All of these cars have automatic transmission, with a column mounted gear shift complementing the bench style front seats very well.  There is a choice of gearbox, between a standard 4 speed automatic and CVT.  I would avoid the CVT, especially in the pre-facelift cars with the 1.4 litre engine.  This is because I have read of numerous reliability problems with these gearboxes.  CVT cars can be identified by shift buttons on the steering wheel.

Design features

In a world of widespread blandness in car design, the Cubic is a breath of fresh air.  Here are some of my favourite bits:

Nissan Cubic wrap around glassAsymmetric wrap around glass

The nearside rear windows wrap around the rear of the car and merge into the rear screen.

Bench style seats

Both front and middle rows of seats have been made to look like a bench.  Don’t worry, they aren’t fixed like that and can slide independently.

Column mounted gear shift

Continuing with design cues from American cars of the ’50s and ’60s is the column mounted gear shift lever.  Along with the foot operated ‘handbrake’ this enables the footwell to be kept clear.

Storage, cup holders, arm rests

If you like to have multiple drinks on the go whilst driving, this is the car for you, with 2 cup holders each for driver and front seat passenger.

I also love how the middle part of the front bench seat can be arm rest, storage and cup holder all in one.

There are storage nets and compartments all over the place in these cars, including the concealed storage under the floor in the middle seat footwells.

Cube style alloy wheels

The body shape of the car is mirrored in the wheels.


Picture of 3 rows of seats in a Nissan CubicInterior accommodation

  • The Nissan Cubic is a 7 seater car.  Passengers 6 and 7 should probably have quite short legs, because the leg room in the back seats isn’t great.  Having said that, there is some adjustment as the middle row of seats can slide forwards and backwards.
  • Air conditioning.  Some models have automatic climate control and others just have a hot to cold dial.  Some also have an ion clean air purifying system if you like that kind of thing.
  • Electric windows all round.
  • Useful storage compartments everywhere, as mentioned above.


  • Driver and passenger airbags.
  • ABS.
  • There are two ISOFIX child seat mounting points on the outer seats of the middle row.

Driver aids

  • Nissan intelligent / smart key (only on some trim levels).  This basically means you can keep the key in your pocket or bag and the car senses its presence, allowing you to lock, unlock and start the engine.  Fun in a way but also an unnecessary gimmick in another way.  For me it doesn’t really add anything over a standard key with remote central locking.
  • Front driving / fog lights (some trim levels only).
  • Automatic headlights.
  • Power wing mirror adjustment and folding.


Nissan Cubic interior and dashboardThe engine is really quiet and feels willing and more than adequate around town.  Unfortunately asking it to propel a box-shaped car uphill at 70 mph does reveal its limitations, as you might expect: the Cubic doesn’t really pretend to be a performance vehicle.  It is more than capable of cruising at motorway speeds, but just takes a little while to get there!

The car is really quiet with surprisingly low road noise.  Suspension and handling are so much better than I expected: I was particularly impressed that there was much less body roll in corners than I anticipated.

The automatic gearbox isn’t the smoothest I’ve encountered on an imported vehicle but it is very good.

Visibility is excellent, as you’d probably expect from such a boxy car!

Running costs

The average Nissan Cubic fuel consumption reported by owners is 35 mpg, with a higher figure of 47 mpg being reported from Japan’s motor industry standard tests.

Both the 1.4 and 1.5 litre engines qualify for the lower tax rate for imported vehicles of £145 per year.

Nissan Cubic model range

The key trim levels are (in increasing order of cost when new):

  • SX
  • EX
  • Rider (by Autech)
  • Trabis (by Autech)

In addition there have been a number of special editions predominantly focussed on appearance rather than equipment.  As is often the case, it is a real challenge for me to give you a definitive equipment list for each of these due to so many different options within each trim level.

Nissan Cubic problems

There are a few problems to be aware of.  This isn’t an exhaustive list, just the key issues I’ve encountered.

Nissan Cubic side viewTiming chain

The CR14DE engine in these cars has a timing chain.  This is great because it removes the expense of having a timing belt replaced, and the worry of it snapping and causing bad things to happen to the engine.  However, it can still cause plenty of expense if the engine isn’t looked after.  The oil needs to be good quality, changed regularly and kept topped up.  If not, the timing chain can wear and ‘stretch.’  It doesn’t actually stretch but the wear makes it longer than it should be, which messes up the engine timing and causes fault codes.  Replacement is expensive!


See under ‘engine and transmission’ above.

Central locking

The central locking actuators sometimes fail.  Replacements are available but expensive.  There are several other repair options using generic central locking actuators.

Throttle body

Components within the throttle body can wear, causing any combination of poor starting, rough idling, loss of power.  Unfortunately they were built as a single block, so the offending part (e.g. idle air control valve) cannot be replaced easily, rather the whole unit has to be replaced or sent away for reconditioning.  If your car is doing any of the above, try having the throttle body cleaned first as this can sometimes work.


The Nissan Cubic is a beautifully designed, practical and interesting car that will always turn heads.  I hope this has inspired you to consider owning a Cubic!


  1. You mention that there are ISOFIX points on the middle row of seats. Is this just on the Cubic or on the standard Cube too?

    • Hi Scotty

      All of the Cubes and Cubics I’ve seen have had ISOFIX in the back. However as far as I know ISOFIX points were a manufacturer’s option rather than standard equipment, so I’m sure there will be some Cubes out there without them. Please check the car before committing to buy.


  2. Hi Andrew I’ve recently bought a 1.5 cube – I love it – but I’ve noticed the wing mirrors don’t fold in -they are electric- the mirrors work fine- is there a fuse to fix them or do i need to replace them? I bought a export that didn’t have a manual :0(

    • Hi, it would be unusual for both motors to fail at once so I would look for a problem with the switch or a fuse first. I don’t know which fuse it is, but a careful look in both fuse boxes should identify a burnt out fuse. Another option would be to take one of the door cards off and check you are getting voltage to the mirror connector plugs when the switch is operated using a multimeter. If you do need new folding motors, they are available to order from Nissan dealerships. You don’t need to buy the whole mirror assembly.

      • Hi, i have just bought a Nissan cube 1500 2008 face lift model, and very pleased with it, if the person above still has the car you can get a Nissan cube owners manual off ” JPN MANUALS “, on ebay, it is a copy of the jap book that comes with the car, but in English,
        It has 270 pages,
        Love you site, sad as I am I bought a model of the car to build.

        • Thanks for the information John. There is also a link in the sidebar on this post to the same manual you mention available for sale on Amazon.

  3. Having had 2008 ( 1500cc ) model for 6 weeks I love it, does all I want it to do, some drivers let you out so they can have a better look, when going on the motorways down the slip road, when you put your foot down it picks the speed up very fast, a few times I may be over the speed limit when joining, in side you have plenty of room, yes it has a small boot, but the rear seats fold down if you need to carry any thing high and long, some complain about the mpg (about 32.35 ) would I sell it ?No way,
    1nissan cube owner,

  4. Having had my cube for 6 weeks I am very happy with it, Yes other driver do stare at it, I like the room in it also I find it very quieted on the road, the space in a small car is brilliant, If you have some thing large all you do is fold the rear seats down, mileage on petrol is about 33/38 around town not bad for some that is a square, It I very smooth on rough roads, can hold motorway speeds and a bit higher with no problems, when I asked why I bought it I replied to be different,

    • Hi John

      That’s great feedback, thanks for sharing. Good to have some real world fuel consumption figures.


  5. We have had our 2012 Rider/Autek Z12 model since January 2022 and it has been just what we needed — lots of room front & back, smooth & quiet to drive, ok sized boot space, handles good for a brick/toaster shaped car, offers great fuel economy (upwards of 700kms per tank on the motorway & 475-500kms in local driving on a 42L tank), runs fine on non-E10 91 octane fuel, and we find it very comfortable to drive. To complete the Cube to our liking, we tinted the windows and replaced the Japanese head unit as I wanted full sound system capabilities with radio, bluetooth, reverse camera and Apple/Android integration for navigation & voice. We went with the Pioneer DMH-Z6350BT unit and it sounds quite good with the standard 4 door speakers — will be even better with the speaker upgrade, to add tweeters. We picked it up with 77K kms on the clock & brand new tyres, had it completely looked over, did our two upgrades, had the basic service completed, then drove it to the Gold Coast from Sydney for a 8 day holiday. She performed flawlessly and so far with about 13K kms more on the ODO, she still drives like she did when we bought her. The only potential challenges I can think of are the potential issues with the CVT transmission – which are discussed frequently & are well documented & are easily found on the internet. If the CVT gearbox historically behaved itself for Cube owners, there would be no challenges for me with the Cube. I cannot fault my Cube so far and fingers crossed that our CVT gearbox behaves itself & that she continues to be a lovely car to drive.

    • Hi Tim

      That’s great to hear, thank you for taking the time to share your Cube experiences.


  6. Hi, fantastic info, and yes a relative newbie to the Cubix and a massive drop in power from my last Jap but l LOVE IT !!!. Mine is an 07 1,5 in excellent condition is so clean you can eat your dinner on the underside it is spotless. Any way a quick question, should l run my car on E5 or E10 ??

    • Overall I’d say yes. There’s a good range of cross compatibility with other Nissan models and also lots of second hand options.

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