Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Some poor schmuck in town bought a 2010 Nissan Cube; it was parked on High Street Saturday morning. I was astounded and revolted. After a bit of staring in horrified fascination, I called a friend to share the revulsion.

It is quite honestly the worst-looking car I've ever seen. Some might offer the Aztek as a rival, but you can kind of see where they were going with the Aztek - it's just a streamlined, cubist variant on the minivan aesthetic, one that goes terribly, eye-slicingly wrong. The Cube is a whole different class of 'orrible.

To start off with, it's a cube, a box on wheels - but it's a cube defined entirely with curves, not a single straight edge that I could identify in ten minutes of awe-struck examination. Every curve takes away from all the others, and the whole is much, much less than the parts.

The Cube isn't much bigger than my Aveo, but it's slightly taller, and has to have twice the air-resistence, because the front window is the closest thing to a straight line on the vehicle. It's at about a 65 to 70 degree slope, perfectly calculated to suck airflow downwards into the scoop under the hood & devour forward momentum. The only way it could be worse is if it had a Jeep-style perfect vertical sheet of glass.

Said scoop is the next abomination in this parade of horrible. It's about five-six inches wide, and four inches deep, a great little pit for slush, ice, and snow to accumulate in bad weather, and mess with the thermal balance and weight of the car. It's an utterly, formlessly worthless aesthetic touch which will just make life miserable for the owner in winter weather. The interior is bedeviled with a bizarre ripple ridging effect cast into the ceiling around the dome light, as if it were a rock tossed into a pond. Why? Damned if I know.

Lastly, the hatch door opens sidewise, like a RAV4 or a CR-V. This car is too small and close to the ground to compete with those mini-SUVs - it's *not* a crossover, far as I can tell. It's more in the way of a competitor to the HHC, as if someone would actually want to compete with a half-car, half-stationwagon like that. The main thing accomplished by making the hatch open sidewise, is to greatly increase the required opening radius, and to render the layout of the vehicle irrepairably unbalanced - distressingly asymmetric, like a vehicle designed by that aesthetic vandal, Frank Gehry.

Someone once accused the Chrysler K-Car of not being a car, but rather the box the car came in. Likewise, the Nissan Cube isn't so much a car, as the vacuum-sealed clamshell it was shipped in: the sort of clamshell which takes a pair of scissors, a boxcutter, and a lighter to get open. The sort of packaging which hates the purchaser.

This car is an aesthetic offense against the gods of design. The designers ought to be tarred and feathered, and run out of Nishi-ku on a rail.

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