Nissan Cube in our apartment in Miami
Miami. Nissan Cube. Epic Hotel. Jan Hammer. Put them all together and what do you have? The perfect test drive, that's what. Last week we were flown to the city of Crockett and Tubbs to sample the new Nissan Cube in its natural habitat. We happened to be in Cartagena and were on our way to Miami anyway, so this turned out to be a much safer trip than the cigarette boat we originally planned for. The press passes were a great cover.
Upon arrival we were picked up by reps from Nissan in white Lamborghini Testarossas (*edit- double checked with Nissan, they were Black Nissan Armadas… and there is no such thing as a Lamborghini Testarossa) and whisked off to the [just opened] Epic Hotel at triple the posted speed limits.
Accommodations were beautiful enough to make us forget the guard at the door. "Precautions" said Nissan.
Gazing down at the pool from the room we discovered a "Miss Latin America" competition in progress and cursed our decision from the night before… "Just one night in Miami, what will we do with a bathing suit?"
…Half an hour of particularly vigorous Yoga and a cold shower later, we were ready for Dinner with Bruce Campbell, VP of Design at Nissan America (Whom we interviewed in the past).
The fearless Veep of Nissan Design America
"So what do you do when you are not thinking about cars?"
"I race Hobie Cats" he said over some delicious Filet Mignon.
A sailor with real California spirit…
"And how did a car with so many unique parts get past the bean counters with such a low retail price (starting at $13k)?"
"We just knew that this car, in order for it to exist at all, had to be everything that it is. We couldn't go half way because it would have never worked. Usually a designer has a pile of ideas on his desk and 1 or 2 of them actually make it to production. On the Cube, only 1 or 2 ideas did NOT make it to production. This is a designer's dream car."
"You know that the Unplggd readership is your demographic, right? What have you done to make them love the Cube? What have you done for US?"
"We gave you a fun space to make your own. We now refer to it as a jacuzzi on wheels, but it is affordable and it allows you to plug your mobile device directly into it. Lots of space and storage possibilities, it's really easy to spend time and relax in."
Marketing jargon? The next day we would be set free with the cars to see for ourselves. But now, having family in Miami, we had a few obligations to fulfill.
After a quick visit- setting all the clocks on their VCR's, downloading drivers for their printers, making sure suppliers weren't skimming too much off the top, and moving furniture to and fro, it was back to the Hotel Epic for a fitful night of rest. As the sun went down, the pool transformed from a scene of Latin beauty to a college spring break fest of splashing, squealing, and "underwear-for-bathing-suit" drunkeness. Sleep came in bits and pieces and soon the sun was on its way back up.
In the morning there were 12 Cubes stacked up outside for us to drive over to the presentation space in the Design District. After an hour or two of stats, specs, and stories, we were again given keys to enjoy the city of Miami. Those are the "keys" that jingle, btw.
Having prior experience in Miami, we shook our tails and ventured out on our own path. We stopped for a cafesito at David's Café on Lincoln Road. We parked behind a Ferrari 430 on Ocean Drive to see whether the cube had enough presence for the valet to leave it in front- it did. We bought fresh-rolled cigars on the beach. Then we drove around to get some good pix. Urban looking pix. Pix with graffiti:
After our prescribed time in the car we were allowed an extra couple hours to do whatever we wanted since most of the other journalists had gone back to the airport… so we visited a couple friends to run the most important test of all. The child test. You see- if kids love something, it means it is truly a friendly product. So…do children love the Cube? See for yourself:
4 pm showed up a little too soon for our tastes as things were just starting to get fun. The short Miami blast was very entertaining, sans the late night pool party, and we felt like we were just starting to feel at home with the car. It has a bunch of specs (see below) as any car does, but it is the friendliness of it that makes the Cube work. Things that are nice to have if you are living in the digital age are: speed sensitive volume, 6 speaker with Rockford Fosgate sub audio system, steering wheel audio controls, and bluetooth phone system with voice recognition- some of which are standard and some that are optional, depending on which level of trim you order. iPod connectivity for those rare i-owners:
An upright driving position makes it easy to see what you are up to, not to mention the wrap-around glass on the right side of the car that aids in rearward vision. This is a hang out at home car, wherever you may be. On the way back to the airport (this time in a Ferrari Countach), we reflected on all the detail work that went into making the Cube experience and determined the car, and the trip, a success. Cue "Night Talk" from Jan Hammer's "Escape From Television" (the score to Miami Vice, people)
- Cylinders / configuration- 4-cylinder / inline
- Displacement- (liters) 1.8
- Horsepower- 122 @ 5,200 rpm
- Torque- (lb-ft) 127 @ 4,800 rpm
- Valvetrain- 4 valves per cylinder
- Induction system- Sequential multi-port electronic fuel injection
- Recommended fuel- Regular unleaded