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Nissan Dualis 2007 Review

Take Tiida for instance (pronounced Tee-dah). Why Nissan chose this name instead of the tried, tested and terrific Pulsar remains one of life's great mysteries.

Aussies haven't warmed to it nor the car for that matter which is still struggling to emulate Pulsar's success.

With this in mind the company was not about to make the same mistake with the new Dualis (Dew-ah-liss), known in Europe as Qashqai (Cash-keye) - now there's a tongue twister!

That's a good thing because the Dualis/Qashqai has been a big hit overseas and looks set to repeat that success here.

Manufactured at Sunderland in the north of England, it's built on the same platform as X-Trail but is smaller and rounder than the four-wheel drive.

The five-seat crossover vehicle has only been on sale for a couple of months in Europe but there is already a six-month backlog of orders.

We're due to get the vehicle here later this year when it will launched at the Sydney motor show.

In the meantime, Nissan invited us to take the Dualis for a spin last week on the motorways and leafy, narrow roads that surround the busy city of London.

You can tell the company is a little bit excited about this one.

As well as the same platform, Dualis also shares a 2.0-litre petrol engine with X-Trail - the European version that is because ours is a 2.5.

But that's where any similarity ends because the two vehicles are poles apart in terms of looks and purpose.

Dualis is also considerably shorter.

At 4310mm in length, it is 320mm shorter than new X-Trail but shares the same wheelbase.

The wagon is cut from the same mould as the stylish but larger Murano.

It has a swept back roof and lights, a window line that rises towards the rear, grey underbody protective trim and a tail end that looks as it if it has been truncated.

Nissan's Design Director - Nissan Design Europe, Stephane Schwarz, explained Dualis offers the attributes of a four-wheel drive, but without the burden or weight of one.

“We didn't want to cut and paste Murano,” Mr Schwarz said.

“This car had to have its own identity. It was a difficult exercise and I'm not sure we have achieved total clarity - even today.”

Dualis is a good looking thing, with elements of a Golf-sized hatch and four-wheel drive evident.

Although it sits 200mm above the ground like a 4x4, it is targeted at city dwellers instead - active people but not necessarily ones who want to get their feet dirty.

In this respect, its all-wheel drive system could be regarded as more of a safety feature.

The lightweight 2.0-litre all-aluminium 16 valve engine develops 103kW of power and 200Nm of torque.

It's hooked up to either a six-speed manual or continuously variable automatic (CVT).

The combo is good enough to put a spring into its step but nothing to get too excited about at the same time.

A diesel engine is also offered overseas, but is not listed for Australia - at least not in the short term.

Preliminary fuel consumption figures for the car show the manual uses 8.4 litres/100km while the CVT is good for 8.3 litres/100km.

There's not much in it.

To put this in perspective, the car weighs between 1415kg and 1535kg depending on model, but this again will depend on how our cars are equipped.

In designing Dualis, the company opted to build two separate and distinct vehicles rather than morph X-Trail into something to cater for all tastes.

X-Trail, is part of what Nissan describes as its family of “authentic” off-road vehicles.

Dualis, on other hand, is targeted at those people looking for something a little different.

The styling is rounder and more sophisticated, more urban than off road in its execution but still offering much of the same utility.

We got to drive both the manual and the CVT auto versions.

The cabin is roomy, well laid out and pleasantly quiet.

The suspension however can be harsh at times on secondary roads, with plenty of rebound thump.

But it's always difficult to tell what a vehicle is going to ride like on our challenging roads until we get it here.

On the flat bitumen roads on which we tested the car performance from the 2.0-litre engine was good.

But we suspect it could fall short of the mark when it encounters our rolling hills and wide open spaces.

The short throw change in the manual is surprisingly slick.

The CVT also offers a six-speed manual mode and is better suited to the city environment.

Dualis has just been awarded a maximum five-star safety rating in Europe.

The cars we drove were equipped with multiple airbags and electronic stability control, as well as a full-size spare.

Pricing and specification will be announced at the Sydney motor show in October, but we're tipping a starting price of $29,990.


Nissan Dualis

Engine: 2.0-litre four cylinder petrol

Power: 103kW and 200Nm

Transmission: 6 speed manual or 6-step CVT auto

Fuel economy: 8.4 litres/100km (manual) 8.3 litres/100km (CVT)

Features: Selectabable all-wheel drive, ABS, at least two airbags, probably electronic stability control, rest to be confirmed

Price: Expect to be from about $29,990


Pricing Guides

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Range and Specs

ST (4x4) 2.0L, ULP, 6 SP MAN $5,830 – 8,140 2007 Nissan Dualis 2007 ST (4x4) Pricing and Specs
Ti (4x4) 2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO $6,380 – 9,020 2007 Nissan Dualis 2007 Ti (4x4) Pricing and Specs
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