Owner: ATI (Auto-Tech Interiors Inc.)
Dyno and Facility: SP Engineering Dynojet
Installation: Scott Tsuneishi
The Nissan Cube is a relative latecomer to the box-on-wheels trend in the U.S., with the Scion xB and the Kia Soul having already established their presence. To stand out in the square car market, Nissan made "quirkiness" their signature on the Cube, with an edgier exterior design and an asymmetrical rear windows. Powered by a 1.8L DOHC four-cylinder engine, the Cube produces 122 hp and 127 lb-ft of torque, and is paired with a six-speed manual transmission or an optional Xtronic CVT (continuously variable transmission).
The Cube's unusual styling served as the perfect marketing vehicle for ATI, who added a Tein coilover suspension, a Yakima roof rack, and SSR Professor wheels, to transform their Cube into a SEMA-worthy car that many of us would proudly drive around town. Unfortunately, the MR18DE engine isn't up to par with its newly upgraded exterior. The 1.8L engine produces unimpressive horsepower and poor acceleration off the line, which is typical of most cars marketed as "economical".
Before strapping the Cube on the dyno, we performed routine maintenance, including an oil change and spark plug check/replacement. In stock trim, the Cube delivered 104 hp and 109.6 lb-ft of torque to the wheels of SP Engineering's Dynojet.
Weapon-R Secret Weapon Air Intake
3,000 to 3,500 range: -2.0 to 1.0
3,500 to 5,500 range: 3.0 to 4.0
Intake, filter, intake tube, brackets, silicone hoses, nuts and bolts, clamps, instructions, installation hardware
10- and 12mm sockets, ratchet, extension, Torx key set, needle-nose pliers, Phillips and flat-head screwdrivers
The Secret Weapon intake uses a dual-chamber design with two different diameters and lengths of piping, which allow an engine to ingest air at a faster velocity and create more power than a conventional system. The intake pipe is mandrel-bent using 6061 aluminum and comes with an SW1 air filter featuring a velocity stack. The system is also backed by Weapon-R's million-mile limited warranty.
The Weapon-R intake kit comes with a flex-able ram air tube that connects one factory fog light hole to the intake filter. While the ram tube concept is smart, we found installing the unit to be a pain in the ass, as the tightly cramped engine bay offered little room to maneuver the three-inch tubing.
A quick spin on the dyno revealed a peak gain of 2.7 hp and 1.4 lb-ft torque over our baseline numbers. The new air filter system increased both horsepower and torque throughout the powerband, and the Cube saw its largest gain of 4.0 hp and 5.0 lb-ft of torque at 5,300 rpm.
DC Sports SCS (Single Canister System) Exhaust
3,000 to 3,500 range: 2.0 to 1.0
3,500 to 5,500 range: 2.0 to 6.0
Rear section, mid piping, mounting hardware, license plate frame, instructions
10-, 12-, 14- and 17mm sockets, open end wrenches, ratchet, extension, WD-40, and anti-seize
As of press time, DC Sports is currently the only aftermarket manufacturer that offers a cat-back exhaust system for the Cube. The DC Sports SCS system uses mandrel-bent 304 stainless steel tubing with a single canister muffler for maximum flow, and is finished with a four-inch, polished, straight-cut tip.
Removal of the factory exhaust requires plenty of time and patience. Ask for assistance when installing the new exhaust to help speed up the installation process.
We were pleasantly surprised when the exhaust emitted a nice, deep exhaust pitch and moderately quiet sound level. Dyno testing the exhaust revealed an increase in horsepower and torque throughout the powerband, with a peak gain of 4.4 hp and 3.0 lb-ft of torque. We saw a healthy gain in the midrange to top-end, with the largest increase of 6.0 hp and 5.0 lb-ft of torque from 5,300 rpm to redline.