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2011 Nissan Cube Performance

6.0
On Performance
All Cube models come with a 122-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, powering the front wheels. The engine is offered with either Nissan's Xtronic CVT automatic or six-speed manual transmission, and in either configuration it's enough to move the Cube quickly, but not with the verve of a performance car. Between the two transmissions, it's a tossup; Nissan continues to improve the CVT's calibration and drivability, so it's smooth going and there's none of the lurching feeling on moderate acceleration that we still observe on other CVTs. The six-speed manual has a nice linkage, but the slow-to-react electronic throttle doesn't encourage spirited driving.

Surprisingly, while the Cube has quite the personality in terms of styling, design, and function, it doesn't possess much of a driving personality. The Cube is maneuverable but not particularly nimble, handling well in ordinary driving but demonstrating lots of roll and lean in hard cornering. The steering wheel brings no feel of the road, and it stays almost fingertip light whether parking or cruising at expressway speeds. It's a bit susceptible to crosswinds, so we found ourselves overcorrecting sometimes when thrown off course. The soft suspension is a smart setup for most city driving, as it soaks up jarring expansion strips and even modest potholes without drama.

That said, the Cube accelerates adequately, with enough reserve power for passing on two-laners, and brakes have a nice, firm feel, even though under it they're just drums in back.

The 2011 Nissan Cube isn't at all sporty, but it performs adequately.

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