1 Jan 2008
NISSAN Australia's new Dualis city-slicker wagon has a dual personality that straddles the compact SUV and small-car segments.
Sharing many components with the Nissan X-Trail, which has considerable bush-bashing ability, but it is not designed to go off-road. It does have an all-wheel-drive system and can manage dirt, gravel and snow, but is aimed fair and square at urban drivers.
On sale in early 2008 with a starting price of $28,990, the base Dualis comes in $3000 cheaper than its X-Trail brother. Australian supply is limited to 350 cars a month.
Developed as an alternative to both small hatchbacks and compact SUVs. Nissan’s aim was to offer the benefits of an SUV including the elevated seating position, adventurous look, sure-footedness of AWD, with the agility of a small car.
It uses the same platform as the X-Trail, but is 315mm shorter, 70mm lower and 95kg lighter (at 1430kg) than its off-road sibling. Just like the X-Trail, the Dualis operates as a front-wheel-drive.
The driver can flick the Auto switch and the Dualis will deliver up to 50 per cent of torque to the rear wheels when it detects a loss of traction or predicts it given a sudden throttle application.
The Dualis packaging compromises bootspace and its capacity stands at 352 litres, which is 112 litres less than the Tiida hatch.
While the X-Trail runs a 125kW 2.5-litre engine, the Dualis sold in Australia is only available with a 102kW/198Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder. Power is fed to a standard six-speed manual gearbox, while a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) costs $2000 extra.
Fuel economy is quite good for a compact SUV but a bit higher than most small hatches, with an ADR 81/01 combined figure of 8.4L/100km for the manual and 8.5 for the automatic.
In mid-2009, Nissan repositioned the Dualis with the cheaper, front-wheel drive model.
Furthermore, the previously optional ‘ST-O’ safety pack (consisting of ESP stability control and six airbags) was now made standard, enabling a five-star ENCAP crash-test result for the whole MY10 (Model Year 2010) range.
Other than that, there are no specification or visual changes to the Dualis, released in AWD-only form in late 2007.
Eliminating Nissan’s ‘All-Mode’ AWD system does save around 90kg in the front-drive Dualis, however.