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Nissan Dualis+2 seven-seater to miss out on diesel

No diesel Dualis+2: Nissan's seven-seater Dualis variants will not get the diesel powerplant earmarked for the five-seater from mid-2012.

Next year’s Nissan Dualis to get a diesel option – but only in five-seat guise

1 Nov 2011

NISSAN Australia has confirmed it will offer a diesel engine in the Dualis range from the middle of next year, but the oil-burning powerplant will only be available on five-seat variants of the popular crossover.

The Dualis+2 seven-seater variant will continue to be offered exclusively with petrol power – at least for the time being.

The diesel option in the five-seater is likely to be alliance partner Renault’s new 1.6-litre turbocharged unit, which produces 97kW of power and 320Nm of torque while consuming a meagre 4.5 litres of diesel per 100 kilometres.

Nissan Australia managing director and CEO Dan Thompson said last week that diesel is becoming a more relevant offering in the crossover market, and also with passenger cars in general.

The sole powerplant currently available in the Dualis line-up is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol developing 102kW and 198Nm.

The company last week outlined the strength of its two-pronged model presence in the compact SUV segment, in which it currently holds overall leadership.

Combined sales of the Dualis and X-Trail to the end of September sit at 15,359 units, putting Nissan ahead of rival brands such as Subaru (whose Forester and Outback combination has yielded 13,861 sales YTD) and Mitsubishi (with Outlander and ASX capturing 10,262 buyers this year).

12 center imageLeft: X-Trail near Mt Hotham. Below: Dualis diesel, Juke and next-generation Petrol.

Nissan’s strong reliance on this market segment was underlined by the decision to include the X-Trail four-wheel drive in last week’s media event, which took in various trails in national park surrounding Victoria’s Mt Hotham.

The drive program re-iterated Nissan’s strategy to brand the X-Trail as being one of the tougher and more off-road-capable vehicles in the compact SUV field, even though Mr Thompson conceded that only “10-20 per cent max” of all X-Trail owners take their car on these kinds of expeditions.

The addition of the diesel five-door Dualis will be Nissan’s only activity in the booming compact SUV segment in Australia for the foreseeable future, with the funky Juke crossover remaining out of contention for the local market.

Mr Thompson said the brand’s local line-up lacked the space to accommodate such a niche product.

“Is there a market sub-Dualis?” he said. “At this stage we don’t believe so.

“We believe that’s what the Tiida replacement (Pulsar) is all about. There are lots of premium small cars and hatches that we think do the same job as Juke.”

Timing on the launch of the next-generation X-Trail remains unclear, but the current model has been in production since mid-2007 and, bearing in mind a five-year model cycle, the third-generation model should appear next year, probably in pre-production form in the second half.

At the large end of the SUV market, Nissan revealed it has yet to find a suitable diesel option for the forthcoming new Patrol, which is due towards the end of next year.

Sales of the larger, more luxurious next-generation model will commence with a thumping 298kW/550Nm direct-injection 5.6-litre petrol V8 serving as the sole engine option.

Mr Thompson acknowledged the importance of having a diesel option in the large four-wheel-drive segment.

“We’ll continue to look at many options as they surface until we find a diesel for P61 (new Patrol),” he said.

Australia is believed to be the only global market to have put its hand up for a diesel Patrol, but the lion’s share of its volume comes from the Middle East and the US – markets that traditionally favour petrol.

Mr Thompson said Nissan Australia had been heavily involved in the development of the Patrol for right-hand-drive markets.

Nissan will continue to offer the current Y61 series Patrol alongside the new model in a similar arrangement to its strategy with Navara, where it sells the older D22 version alongside the larger D40 model.

Mr Thompson said “there is no end in sight on Y61 diesel”, although emissions regulations will likely spell the end of the venerable model by mid-decade.

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