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Tuesday 30 March 2010

Cherie Drives the Cube

Being the Editor of Aesthetica Magazine, does, at times, have its advantages. Last week, I was given the opportunity to preview the new Nissan Cube. Over the years, I’ve had many things come my way – mostly books (I love the art ones), CDs, tickets and a flight or two, so I was delighted to take this opportunity on board. It was an unusual experience for a number a reasons: 1.) I’m not really that in to cars, so as far as I’m concerned if it’s nice and it goes then I’m in. 2.) Well, really that’s the same as number one.

On the outside, the Cube is really intense. It has a beautiful shape and voluptuous contours. Paradoxically, although a bit boxy it’s round too. Everything was a bit oversized, at first appearing a bit wonky, take the wing mirrors for example, they’re massive, almost what you’d expect in a van, but actually I found that pretty convenient. The exterior colour of the one I drove was white, which in some respects gave it the appearance of a polar bear.

Anyway, when the Cube arrived, I took it for a little test drive around the office car park. One of the first things that you notice is how comfortable it is, and easy to drive (although most new cars are). Because of its unique design, there’s a lot of light in the car. I really like this aspect, especially the massive skylight, although, I was a little disappointed that it didn’t open! In hindsight, I can understand that it would be pretty distracting to drive with that much wind. And, what a great sound system, I did crank it all the way up, and somehow jazz, reggae and even pop sounded good streaming out.

There were several gadgets, like a camera to help with reversing, USB ports, Bluetooth, SatNav, auto lights and windscreen wipers, and even a key fob so that you almost magically open the door, oh and there was a button to start the car to boot. So, at first, I was thinking that perhaps this car was more geared towards men, but after a few days, I started to think that the car isn’t geared towards any gender, and it’s more about personalities.

Probably one of the best experiences I had was taking the Cube to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I must admit, when I pulled into the car park, there were a few double takes, and we certainly attracted some attention, but I suppose in YSP, that’s the type of audience that will have an appreciation for aesthetics, and who will be looking at how design can enhance our built spaces. Needless to say, it was a good experience.

Not to mention, I love YSP, I think it’s just a great place to go to look at some world class sculpture, trek across a field, and end up at the Longside Gallery with their new show The Gathering (4 March –18 April), which is an Arts Council collection, curated by Robert Dingle, a recent graduate of Goldsmiths. The show features 31 works by 21 artists and with historical text and interviews; it traces seminal moments in the Collection’s history and captures the voices of the artists and selectors involved in the acquisition process. Artists represented include David Batchelor, Victor Burgin, Adam Chodzko, Keith Coventry, Tony Cragg, Martin Creed, Peter Doig, Gilbert & George, Richard Long, Mark Wallinger, Rebecca Warren, Catherine Yass and Bettina von Zwehl.

The Cube is a city car, with all the light you’re meant to take life slow and soak it up. All in all the Cube is a vibrant addition to the road, their marketing says something like, it’s for individuals and people who want to drive slow. I can’t argue with that.

After taking four of my team members for a drive – I asked for 50 words, and here’s what they said (we did leave the car park):

Sophie GordonMedia Relations

Quirky details for modern city living including fantastic views from the glass roof panel, holders for takeaway bags, and a fantastic sound system make the Cube more practical and comfortable than you expect at first glance. Initially seeming like the car has unnecessary bulk from the outside, these are the eccentric curves you grow to love. The Cube has a fun mix of random aesthetics and innovative practicality that you don’t want to do without the more and more you experience the car. Comfortable and spacious inside, with a look entirely of its own on the outside – at least you’ll never lose it in the car park.

Bryony Byrne Marketing

The new Nissan Cube is an odd little car. I’m not even sure that ‘little’ is the right word to describe it; it’s definitely a city car but it’s strangely bulky in the bodywork and is really quite tall. At first I thought it was small inside, given the large exterior, but it is actually incredibly spacious and this is more than just an illusion from the over sized skylight and windscreen. The doors, however, are narrow and the windows are shorter top to bottom than you’d expect. But I suspect that this may be the beauty of the Cube; nothing is as expected. I, for one, had expected to hate it but I may be falling for it instead.

Lucy AllenMarketing

Though the exterior of Nissan’s Cube may seem at first a little strange, the panoramic views and spacious interior certainly make up for its curious shape. With plenty of light and height, the car is very comfortable and family friendly. Neatly disguised storage facilities, cup-holders and good boot-space contribute to the car’s practicalities and its large-frame and stable build offers security to the passengers. Remarkably, with the airy height and broad width of the car, there seems a puzzling lack of legroom so that a person 6ft 5in may in one sense feel very pleased with the head-room at the same time risking cramping in the legs! Overall, the car leaves a positive impact and includes an impressive, sensory unlocking system along with a revolutionary digital reversing system.

Dale Donley - Production & Design
He wanted to write something, but didn't submit in time, oh well, maybe next time Dale.


Sculpture first image: Nigel Hall Crossing (Vertical)
Sculpture second image - Sophie Ryder

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