The Nissan Kubistar is basically a rebadged version of the Renault Kangoo and shares the same exterior design and technologies with its French sibling. Nissan started to sell its own versions of the Kubistar, Primastar and Interstar models after Renault took a stake in the company back in 1999.
The vehicle competes in the small van segment with models like the Ford Transit Connect and Peugeot Expert. Similarly with its rivals, the Nissan Kubistar was designed for short urban transportation and thanks to its compact dimensions it’s pretty agile around the city. With a maximum towing capacity of 800 kg, the Kubistar is also pretty practical and would appeal to small business owners that need a compact and efficient van to do their work. The engines lineup consists of both diesel and petrol units which develop 60 hp, 70 hp and 80 hp.
The Nissan Kubistar features a typical European design with a boxy body and a long nose. The vehicle has Renault’s style written all over it and despite the fact that it was launched in 2003 it still looks chic.
Even if it’s not the best looking model in its class, thanks to its curved lines and clean surfaces the vehicle offers a good merge between style and functionality.
Up front, there is a nice radiator grille which bares the company’s logo in its center, while the headlights have an interesting leaf design that gives the vehicle a modern look. The front bumper is bigger than usual and it is fitted with a central air intake and optional fog lamps. Road visibility is helped by the optional rear view windows and wide door mirrors.
To offer easy loading and unloading, the Kubistar comes with wide opening rear doors and a pretty low ground clearance. There is also a practical sliding side door on offer, which gives you full access to the load area.
The Nissan Kubistar’s load volume is rated at 2750 liters, but it’s slightly shorter than the Citroen Berlingo and Fiat Doblo, which affects the load length.
Thanks to its ergonomic design, it’s easy to get in-and-out of quickly. As it was expected the interior design is pretty spartan being filled with cheap, hard textured plastics. We are not impressed by the build quality either, as we’ve found better fittings at other vehicles in the segment. The cabin could’ve been also better isolated as wind enters the cabin without any hesitations.
We’re not big fans of the chunky dashboard either, but we like its functionality and the fact that it’s fitted with all sorts of cubby holes and consoles were you can safely store your things. The round air vents however look dated and spoil all the fun.
The center console has a classical layout with the HVAC controls at the bottom and the audio system on top. There is also a central information display mounted directly into the dash, which keeps you posted of various stats.
Despite the fact that the gear knob isn’t mounted into the dash, it still has an ergonomic position and falls easy into the hand.
The seat offers a high driving position which gives a proper view of the road and we also like the three spoke steering wheel which offers an adequate driving position. For increased practicality, Nissan offers an optional folding passenger seat which permits you to store longer items.
The entry-level Kubistar comes with tinted windows, remote central locking, tinted glass, power steering, an airbag bulkhead, rubber load mat and interior wheel arch protectors. .The high trim level adds electric windows, electric door mirrors, a CD player instead of the cassette, roof storage shelf and ABS.
Engines and performance
You can choose from a 1.2 liter petrol unit which develops a modest power of 60 hp or a stronger dCi diesel which comes in three power outputs with 60 hp, 70 hp and 80 hp. Naturally, the diesel unit is the perfect choice you can make as it’s both punchy and efficient.
Regardless of what version you’ll choose the dCi it’s also pretty nimble around town and permits you to keep it up with city traffic even when the vehicle is fully loaded. The stronger model can also deal well with motorway traffic. On the other hand isn’t as refined as other units found in this segment and it has a noisy start. After it managed to build some power however, it will settle down and offer decent performances.
Nissan Kubistar Engines Specifications
|1.2 petrol||60 @ 5250||93 @ 2500|
|1.5 diesel||60 @ 4000||130 @ 1250|
|1.5 diesel||70 @ 4000||160 @ 1500|
|1.5 diesel||80 @ 4250||185 @ 1750|
Ride and handling
Thanks to its small dimensions the Nissan Kubistar is fairly agile around town and can deal effortless with congested traffic situations. The tight turning circle is rated at only 9.7 meter, further enhancing its agility.
The vehicle comes with MacPherson struts at front and torsion bars at the rear offering a pretty comfortable ride. However, you’ll need to pay some extra attention when cornering as the vehicle has a pretty big body roll and will easy loose it’s balance if you start to drive in a more aggressive manner.
The electric power steering is standard and its lack of accessory drag contributes to the improved fuel efficiency. The steering, in both feel and weight, is light but not overly boosted.
There was a time, not too long ago, when 60 minutes in a van would leave its passengers with ringing ears and stiff joints. After the year 2000 however, we had the occasion to see the rise of a new generations of vans that are more refined. The Kubistar counters this preconception with not only a comfortable ride, but proper steering and a decent cabin.
The Kubistar may lack some bells and whistles found at it more upscale rivals, but it is fairly practical and also cheap to maintain. The diesel engines won’t disappoint you either and can tow big loads without whining.