So we’ve taken a walk down memory lane looking at the history of the cube for our 20th year but we’re going to delve a little deeper now. This is the Nissan Chappo, the 2001 concept car launched at the geneva motor show and the ultimate vision of what the cube was intended to be!
In its artists impression form it is a blend of the Gen 2 and 3 with a square form more rounded at the corners than the Gen 2 but lets take a look at what the built car looked like…
So the Chappo was released to the unexpecting world at the 2001 Geneva Motor show. A car that was built to suit the future urban environment and youth market where with pressures on space a small platform car provided a huge amount of occupant space with a 2 box design. when your stuck in a traffic jam in the mega city of tomorrow (hell anyone that’s tried driving up the freeway in LA or done a commute round the M25 would argue those days are already here!!!) you need a space in which to relax and your passengers even be able to pass the time in way more exciting than staring out the window at Bob from accounts in his silver rep mobile picking his nose!
Enter the Chappo probably the most succesful of the regular japanese concepts that look to address this future as, in a watered down form as concept to reality almost always is, became the Gen 2 cube! Designed from the inside out unlike other concepts where what is on the outside is everything the Chappo could be described as dull compared to the other cars at the show that year, 2001 was the year the 350Z was released to the world by comparison.
The chappo wasn’t about looks though, it was about a life style. the idea for the car came from a traditional Japanese house overlooking a zen garden, yes I know what I said earlier and no the M25 can never be described as a zen garden but stick with me here!
The car itself is a re-imagining of the living space for the urban environment where when living with your parents becomes too much the car becomes not only transport but a social space and the zen garden is where ever you feel at ease be that the countryside, beach or even an urban basket ball court or skate park.
Outside Cube design traits abound as the curved window profile of the Gen 3 is there and look at that huge glass are at the front. the Asymmetrical rear window is there but check out that asymmetrical roof window! That’s got it in spades over the Gen 3 moon roof or any gen 2 sunroof.
Oh and whilst we’re at it have you noticed the doors? No it’s not a regular door oneside and a suicide door the other, the drivers door is a regular door but the passenger side door has 2 handles and through a very clever mechanism can open in either direction depending on what you want to do with it!
The Japanese have always been masters of using space and the Chappo is no exception, a Japanese room traditionally is multipurpose with flexible furnishings adaptable to the need and this is replicated in car form. The lounge space concept within the car offers a user experience that can be tailored to the needs of the user as a social space on the move. The front passenger seat is done away with as, well who wants to sit that close to the TV (well except maybe my kids!) but offers free and easy access to the main compartment of the car.
Saying it’s done away with is a little bit of a misdirection though as the rear seat can be slid forwards on rails to basically a front passenger position and when the seat is not in the way a near full sized table folds out of the door!
In true Japanese VIP style the table in the front even has a pair of glass holders! It was envisioned that like today gaming and the web access would be available everywhere a pretty big prediction and real vision of the future stuff for a time is 6 years before the first iphone and was the year after the release of the Nokia 3310! All that computer and gaming kit needed a home and in place of 200 cupholders the Chappo has you covered, in spades!
For that real lounge feel the front seat folds flat to the rear, a feature gen 2 owners will again recognise, however this time it creates a sofa corner group around the TV! Slightly lumpy looking admittedly but this is a car and that is still pretty clever.
The drivers interface is as you’d expect, like something out of tron, nothing less than you’d expect from a Japanese concept car and given the chance who wouldn’t want a crack at piloting something as oddly controlled as this.
With all the quirkiness of the Chappo the one thing that did have people scratching their heads and hunting through Japanese dictionaries for a meaning or translation was the the name Chappo….
But we’ll get to that in a future article!