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Car reviews - Nissan - Dualis - 5dr wagon range

Launch Story

19 Apr 2010

NISSAN is set to reclaim lost ground in the small-car class with a Series II revamp of its Dualis that heralds Australia’s cheapest seven-seater wagon variant, a new-look nose, improved refinement and driveability and more standard features.

The changes give greater ammunition to the Dualis, which has shouldered much of the load in small-vehicle sales for Nissan since the Pulsar was usurped by the Tiida in early 2006.

On sale now from an identical $24,990 for the FWD front-wheel drive ST manual five-seater, the revised J10 Dualis range again straddles both the small-car and lower-echelon compact SUV segments, targeting the likes of the Mazda3, Toyota Corolla and Volkswagen Golf as well as the Hyundai ix35 and Subaru Forester.

However, the seven-seater version dubbed Dualis +2 will not arrive in Australia until July, and will be priced from $29,990 for the FWD ST CVT auto. There are also Ti and Ti AWD all-wheel drive versions that stretch that to $36,890.

Nissan Australia CEO Dan Thompson said that against rivals that tended to appeal to the head more than the heart, Dualis+2 combined practicality with genuinely attractive design and “a fun to drive attitude”.

“We are targeting active urban families who probably have only one or two children. But those children have friends and they have grandparents, meaning that a family outing can now be undertaken in one car,” he said.

Only the Kia Rondo offers seven seats for less than the Dualis +2, to the tune of $5000 in manual mode or $3000 if the like-for-like LX auto is specified.

NissanDualis center image Left: Nissan Dualis. Bottom: Nissan Quashqai/Dualis +2 seven seater.

The cheapest Peugeot 308 Touring wagon is $1600 more and offers 400cc less engine, while the larger Holden Captiva 7 auto starts at $35,990, the Kia Carnival EX V6 auto is $36,390 ($100 shy of the Kia Sorento 2.4L), the Dodge Journey is $36,990, the Mitsubishi Outlander CVT is $37,440, the Subaru Exiga six-seater is $37,490, and the Citroen C4 Picasso and Toyota Avensis Verso are both a tenner under $40,000.

On both Dualis shapes, the ST gains Bluetooth connectivity and steering wheel -mounted controls, on top of cruise control, alloy wheels with a full-sized spare, air conditioning, four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock brakes, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, ESC, traction control, CD/MP3 audio and six airbags, including front-to-rear curtain items.

But the old $26,990 ST AWD model has been dropped, meaning that Dualis Series II buyers must now fork out $4900 more for the $31,890 Ti AWD. That also adds 75kg to the FWD Ti’s 1450kg kerb weight.

Plus, Dualis Series II Ti prices have soared between $1700 and $1900 depending on the drivetrain, although Nissan says this is more than offset by a significantly higher level of standard features across the range.

These include a panoramic sunroof with a powered sunshade, 18-inch alloy wheels, dual zone auto climate control, keyless entry with start, and rear privacy glass, and are on top of the usual Ti features like leather upholstery, a six-disc stacker, six speakers, auto-on headlights and wipers, front fog lights, heated front seats and more storage spaces. Go for the AWD version and silver roof rails are also added.

The latter are also included on all seven seater models.

New from the A-pillar back, the +2 literally brings a new dimension to the Dualis Series II range, since it is 211mm longer at 4541mm, 40mm taller at 1645mm, and with a 135mm wheelbase extension (to 2765mm) compared to the five-seater models.

The +2 gets longer rear doors for easier third-row access, different glass shapes and areas, a redesigned tailgate with a larger 224mm bigger opening (to 1186mm) and an altered rear bumper that boasts a 13mm lower loading height – to 770mm.

Nissan says the third row is for smaller people only, with only ‘occasional’ suitability for taller adults, but the backrest reclines, and the whole row folds flat into the floor to provide 550 litres of cargo area – a 140-litre increase over the regular Dualis. Folding the middle row extends that to 1520 litres.

Plus, the middle row seats are divided 40/20/40 and recline 15 degrees, slide for easier access and improved rear knee and legroom space. Under-floor storage is improved.

A retractable cargo blind can be extended when the middle row is erect.

Roof rails are also included to aid hauling luggage.

All Australian-bound Dualis vehicles are built in England, where it was also designed and engineered.

The new, chiselled nose comprises a restyled bonnet, grille, bumpers, headlights, and front mudguards, while a reshaped air-intake improves airflow to the radiator as well as over the car, for slightly less drag, Nissan says.

Also aiding the latter are underbody modifications including a smoother engine floor area, more flat panels and airflow-optimised deflectors around the (restyled) alloy wheels, for a co-efficiency slip of 0.01 to 0.33cd.

From behind, only clearer tail-light lenses with 12 LEDs apiece, a reprofiled roof-mounted spoiler and two new colours for 2010 give the Dualis Series II game away.

Inside, a revised instrument cluster and trip computer provide better clarity and legibility.

As well, there’s new mood lighting, additional storage and an emphasis on greater refinement thanks to the introduction of multi-layer insulation, better window sealing and an ‘acoustic’ windscreen like that found on the latest Golf.

Nissan says some suspension retuning makes for both a comfier ride and a more responsive dynamic feel, for ‘hatch-like’ driving and ‘robust compact SUV values’.

The +2, meanwhile, gets another set of suspension as well as steering modifications to offset the 100kg or so of added mass. The front brakes are also bigger as a result.

Other than that, the Dualis Series II is pretty much the same vehicle that Nissan launched in Australia in late 2007.

This means it retains Nissan’s transverse mounted all-aluminium MR20 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that delivers 102kW of power at 5200rpm and 198Nm of torque at 4400rpm provides power.

Going FWD saves you 0.2 litres per 100 kilometres of 91 RON unleaded petrol, since the Dualis returns 8.1L/100km in the six-speed manual version in the combined average cycle, while the CVT only adds 0.1L/100km to proceedings. Going for the +2 ups the FWD model’s consumption figure to 8.5L/100km, while the carbon dioxide emissions rating is 199 grams per kilometre – an increase of about 4g/km.

As before, the J10 Dualis’ monocoque structure is built on the Renault-Nissan Alliance C-platform that is shared with the X-Trail and Renault Koleos, as well as the upcoming Renault Megane III, and consists of MacPherson strut suspension up front and a multi-link independent arrangement out back.

The steering is a hydraulically powered rack and pinion set-up.

Another advantage to sticking with the FWD Dualis is improved luggage space, which rises 62 litres to 410L, and extends to 1513L with the 60/40 split-fold rear backrest pushed flat.

Ground clearance is 188mm on all models, while the braked/unbraked towing capacity is 1400/645kg for the manual and 1200kg in CVT versions.

“The Dualis has played a key role in reinforcing Nissan’s position as an innovator in the European market, and the recent introduction of the 2WD version in Australia has provided a spur to sales,” Mr Thompson stated.

“It now accounts for almost 10 per cent of our sales in Australia, and this is expected to increase with the arrival of the Series II models. We see the Dualis cementing its position as a design and innovation leader, providing an exciting alternative to traditional hatches.”

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