Nissan Dualis Series II 2010 Review
You can pick the month circumstances changed for Nissan's Dualis urban crossover. Last September Nissan Australia slashed prices and introduced a two-wheel drive version to help bolster sales. The competent crossover had languished since its 2007 launch and was not striking a cord with buyers who continued to bypass it. But since Nissan's spring offensive, sales have been on the up. The company is now regularly recording more than 400 sales a month with the prospect of more now the sharply priced Series II version has arrived.
Nissan Australia managing director, Dan Thompson, is confident that with good supply from Europe, Dualis sales can hit 500 a month and possibly go higher. "Our aspiration is to be over 500 a month," he says. "But we have supply constraints and in reality getting supply out of Europe is a challenge because the car is so successful there." He says the arrival of a two-wheel drive Dualis was helping sales. "People enjoy the high-up driving position, space and amenity compared to a normal hatch," he says.
Who is it for?
Thompson and his team have continued to refine the Dualis range but even he admits getting it on buyers' radar remains a challenge because of the market dominance of the X-Trail and Pathfinder. He says the marketing message for Dualis will be better broadcasted and targeted at compact crossover buyers. "We will fix that," he says.
Thompson says the Dualis is aimed at two segments, the upper end of the small car segment and the compact off-roader segment. He sees people cross-shopping between cars are diverse as a Mazda3 and Hyundai ix35. "The sub-$30,000 pricepoint will bring in many different buyers," he says. "We expect to mix things up in the hatch and crossover segments."
This time around, the ST all-wheel drive has been dropped from the Series II makeover. The front drive Dualis starts at $24,990 for the ST six-speed manual, or $26,990 driveaway. The front drive luxury Ti manual is $29,690.
All-paw traction it is now only available in the luxury Ti, which starts at $31,890 for the six-speed manual. Minor aerodynamic improves have delivered a small gain in fuel economy from the carryover 102/198Nm 2.0-litre four cylinder. Likewise, the six-speed manual and CVT automatic continue.
Styling and equipment
Visually the mid-life update brings a new grille and tail-lights, revised interior and more equipment. The entry ST gains new 16-inch alloys, steering wheel audio controls and Bluetooth added to the already extensive standard equipment list. The luxury Ti gets the bulk of extra gear, from panoramic sunroof, keyless start, 18-inch alloys and dual-zone climate control.
On the way
A Seven-seater Dualis will join the range in July. Like its five-seater sibling, the Dualis+2 will be available in either front or all wheel drive in ST and Ti models and shares its 2.0-litre four cylinder engine.
The seven-seater is 211mm longer and has a 135mm longer wheelbase, which translates into more rear seat room. The third row seats fold flat and are suitable for children. Luggage space has also increased to 550 litres with the seats up and 1520 litres with the third and second row seats folded flat.
At $29,990, the seven-seater is $2500 more than the ST five-seater. The front-drive Ti is $34,690 while an all-wheel drive Ti Dualis +2 is $36,890.
The Dualis has never reached the dizzying heights of its European brother, the Qashqai – which has notched up more than 500,000 sales in Europe.
The Dualis struggled initially when it was launched here in 2007 but it's finally gaining traction after a rethink and repositioning by Nissan Australia. It's the right size, it is well built and well packaged, and Nissan has finally given it a pricepoint to seriously challenge the compact crossover segment.
This time around, with the two-wheel drive gaining momentum, the Dualis is moving out of showrooms in increasing numbers.
We drove the top-end Ti AWD model, which won't break the bank even if you spring for the extra luxury. The six-speed manual Ti AWD is $31,480, right at the starter end of some notable rivals like the Subaru Forester, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. You need to move up a grade or two with its rivals before you get the gear you see on the Ti.
The Ti gets all the fruit, incl. heated leather seats, climate control, panoramic glass roof, keyless start, smart 18-inch alloys and lots of other gear. The ride and handling is what you expect of a well-sorted Euro-compact off-roader. The steering has the right amount of feel and the suspension copes easily with our roads.
The initial firmness gives way to a well-composed ride at highway speeds. Like the Volkswagen Tiguan, the Dualis has a precise, almost hatch-like ride and does not wallow about. The acoustic windscreen and extra sound deadening between the engine and interior has made a noticeable difference in lowering cabin noise. The easier-to-read trip computer and instruments are also welcome.
The biggest letdown, if you could call it that, is the 2.0-litre engine. With 102kW to push around a pretty hefty, but safe, body that weighs around 1482kg in the Ti, you need to use the most of the six-speed manual to keep it on the boil. The 2.0-litre is fine around town but ask for some eager overtaking and you'll have to push it high into the rev range to get some action.
The Dualis is the right price, right specifications and now all it needs is the right engine. Nissan Australia should fast track the Renault-sourced 1.5-litre or 2.0-litre European turbo-diesel engines, which are still about 12 months away.
Nissan Dualis Series II
Price: From $24,990 ST 2WD, $29,690 Ti 2WD
On sale: Now
Engine: 2.0-litre four cylinder
Output: 102kW at 5200 revs, 198Nm at 4400 revs
Transmission: Six-speed manual or CVT automatic
Economy: 8.1 litres/100km (8.2 CVT)
Emissions: 192 g/km (195g/km CVT)
Range and Specs
|+2 ST (4x2)||2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$12,990 – 12,999||2010 Nissan Dualis 2010 +2 ST (4x2) Pricing and Specs|
|+2 Ti (4x2)||2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$13,950 – 14,990||2010 Nissan Dualis 2010 +2 Ti (4x2) Pricing and Specs|
|+2 Ti (4x4)||2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$11,110 – 15,180||2010 Nissan Dualis 2010 +2 Ti (4x4) Pricing and Specs|
|ST (4x2)||2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$5,999 – 15,990||2010 Nissan Dualis 2010 ST (4x2) Pricing and Specs|
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