Performance » 6
PERFORMANCE | 6 out of 10
The electric power-assisted steering is delightfully light—your best friend in traffic or while parking—but otherwise feels artificial and reveals little about road textures.
Car and Driver
easy to maneuver and fun to drive
Handling isn't particularly agile and body lean sets in early while cornering
the Cube feels like a dancer who's a beat or two behind the music
smooth steering, six-speed manual, passable handling, terrific low-speed maneuverability
Driving is not the Cube's best quality. We're surprised it doesn't feel a little sportier, given its low center of mass and car-based underpinnings.
It's powered by a 122-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder that can be paired with either a six-speed manual or continuously variable (CVT) transmission. The Cube can get up and move rapidly enough, but it's not necessarily built for sporty driving or moving quickly down mountain roads. The electric power steering is devoid of all road feel or feedback, and stays fingertip light not only at parking speeds but on highways too. Because the tall body is also susceptible to crosswinds, the light steering caused us to over-correct when we were pushed out of line.
The shift quality of the six-speed manual is pleasant, but Nissan's slow electronic throttle mapping takes a lot of the zip out of it. There's no great way make the most of what the engine has either; the CVT has decent drivability compared to other vehicles with small engines, but there's still a rubber-band delay when dialing up power, as well as some noticeable engine noise under acceleration.
Overall, the Cube factors in as surprisingly bland. It handles fine in regular daily driving, but while it's maneuverable, it's not all that nimble and the tall body leans and rolls a lot under hard cornering.
On the highway, the Cube is not in its element; but its acceleration is adequate, and it has enough power for passing on two-lane roads most of the time. In the city, where the Cube's huge interior volume is practical and the soft suspension soaks up jarring potholes, broken roads, protruding grates, and all the rest of the big-city hazards that trip up small cars.
It's an economy hatchback, not a sporty runabout, and that attitude rules the Cube's drivetrain and handling.