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Diesel Dualis due next year: Nissan

Oiling the wheels of change: Nissan’s third best seller, the Dualis, will get a new frugal and powerful diesel engine next year.

Nissan boss confirms Dualis will get all-new "premium" diesel engine next year

5 Aug 2011

NISSAN Australia’s popular Dualis compact crossover is expected to get a four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine billed as the world’s most powerful 1.6-litre production diesel – the new-generation Energy dCi 130 from the Japanese brand’s alliance partner Renault – from next year.

Already available in Renault models in Europe, the new diesel is expected to make its Nissan debut in Qashqai – as the UK-built Dualis is known in Europe – ahead of a 2012 rollout in Australia.

Nissan Australia managing director and CEO Dan Thompson confirmed the Dualis would get a new diesel engine for Australia, and while he declined to specify the engine, he said it would be sourced from Renault.

Mr Thompson said Nissan Australia had evaluated the current Qashqai diesel drivetrains – which include an 81kW/240Nm 1.5-litre and a 110kW/320Nm 2.0-litre – but determined they were not suitable Down Under, but said there is another one coming.

“The diesel for us has to be about performance,” he said. “Diesel in Europe is mainstream, no doubt, whereas here for us it’s premium, so it has to deliver something for us and the current diesels Europe sell in Qashqai … they’re just mainstream diesels.”

Producing 97kW of power at 4000rpm with 320Nm of torque from 1750rpm, the high-tech new engine almost matches the Qashqai’s existing 2.0-litre unit – which is the performance hero of the range with a 0-100km/h time of 9.5 seconds in manual front-drive form – but is far more efficient.

12 center imageLeft: Nissan Australia managing director and CEO Dan Thompson. Below: Renault 130DCI engine.

It employs fuel- and emission-saving measures such as idle-stop, low- and high-pressure exhaust gas recirculation, thermal management for faster warm-up times and a variable displacement oil pump that minimises energy consumption by managing the amount of oil pumped according to demand.

It debuted in the European Renault Scenic and Grand Scenic, the latter which is slightly heavier than the Dualis. The new engine provides a claimed 0-96km/h time of 11.1 seconds in the Grand Scenic and returns a frugal 4.4 litres per 100km fuel consumption while emitting just 115 grams per kilometre of CO2.

That represents significant savings over the 8.1L/100km and 192g/km average achieved by the 102kW/198Nm petrol manual Dualis (8.2L/100km and 195g/km for the CVT automatic).

Renault says the unit – which was first seen at the Paris motor show last October –will become a core powerplant for its C-segment (small-car) offerings such as the Megane and Fluence. Alliance partner Nissan will no doubt adopt the engine for its line-up, especially in diesel-hungry Europe.

Mr Thompson said the X-Trail would not get the new diesel, instead sticking with the current 2.0-litre diesel that produces 127kW of power and 360Nm of torque when coupled with a manual transmission and a current Qashqai-matching 110kW/320Nm with the automatic.

The Dualis – which is among Nissan Australia’s four core models on which it pushes hardest to achieve volume growth as part of its GT2012 business plan – sold 5156 units so far in 2011, up 41.2 per cent year-to-date, earning it a 7.6 per cent share of Australia’s compact SUV segment, which is up 2.1 per cent as a whole.

However, Mr Thompson revealed that after GT2012 – which expires on March 31 2013 –Dualis will be relieved of its core-model duty to make way for the Tiida replacement when it arrives early in 2013.

“Dualis, certainly in the long-term, will not be a core model for us,” he said.

“We’ve got to make the decision how to bring it in next generation into a position that has its own defined space away from Tiida replacement and also delivers on brand. For now certainly it is a home run when you talk about brand.”

Because the segment-straddling Tiida is a slow seller, Nissan has been forced to pitch the Dualis as its small car contender, whereas once the as-yet unnamed new small car arrives, Dualis will be repositioned as a premium crossover, pitched towards the mid- to top-end of the ‘C’ or small-car segment.

“We’ve had to stretch Dualis today to get as much volume as we can,” said Mr Thompson. “It’s still a bit premium today, but it will become even more defined (as premium) because Tiida replacement will cover more of that lower end.

“(Dualis) will no longer be a core model, volume player, big focus on volume – it’s more branding, more premium hatch.”

Mr Thompson said the Dualis, which is built at Nissan’s Sunderland plant in northeast England, has even more potential than the shift from “selling 200 per month to roughly 800 per month” that occurred since the company repositioned it starting in August 2009 with added front-drive variants, an a facelift in April last year that added a cheaper entry-level model plus a seven-seat option.

“Dualis is a vehicle for us that even to this day we don’t have a good appreciation for its potential. Diesel will come next year, to give it that legitimacy … we could be doing 1000 a month if we had the supply.”

Asked if he saw diesel engines spreading further across Nissan Australia’s small-car line-up, Mr Thompson said it was certainly a consideration.

“Petrol still dominates that segment, so we’ll lead with petrol, but as we did with Dualis, for instance, that’s where we are today (petrol only), but we’ve realised a developing demand for diesel so you’ll see diesel from us next year in Dualis. And we’ll do the same with all of our core models.”

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