Cars: function versus form

Nissan has introduced a new car:  the Nissan Cube.

Nissan Cube

The shape of the Cube may be representative of a recent trend. The first time I was struck by it was with the Honda Element.

In terms of aesthetics, I don’t like cube-shaped cars. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Your mileage may vary, so to speak.

On the other hand, I applaud the Cube as a response to this sort of design, which has dominated the car market for many years:

I won’t identify the make and model pictured above because it’s representative of dozens of similar cars. Note the shallow angle of the windshield. Again, as soon as the height of the car peaks, it slopes quickly downward again.

It’s a sleek design, but the cost is a significant loss of head room. Contrast the Globe and Mail’s description of the Cube:

Getting in is easy. Cube’s unusual height and the near-vertical windshield creates a larger-than-usual opening for climbing behind the wheel. Just step right in, little bending required.

Once there, whether you’re wearing an Afro do or Stetson hat, you’ll applaud the superfluity of headroom. […]

Room in the rear isn’t as extraordinary as in the front, but is very good. A 6-foot-2 colleague lounged in comfort behind me so long as the rear seat was in its most rearward location.

This is a classic example of the conflict between form and function.

In my view, a car is first and foremost a means of transportation. A car is not a fashion accessory.

It would be nice if you could get a little bit of panache as part of the package:  but if manufacturers are going to force me to choose one or the other, I’d choose function over form.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. billarends
    Apr 21, 2009 @ 15:00:33

    My personal opinion – YUCK to both. And I agree with your point that “a car is not a fashion accessory.” That said on My first glimpse of the element, I thought it was a custoim made joke car. I was waiting to see the clowns jump out the back and sides. I think the compromise on fashion and function is the PT Cruiser, which would entice the teenage but also has a huge amount of space. However stay away from the PT Cruisers mag wheel option they are no end of trouble, or so my mother-in-law says.


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