Nissan Dualis Review
When is a compact SUV not a compact SUV, when it’s a Nissan apparently, at least that’s what the Japanese importer would have us believe when it comes to the Nissan Dualis Hatch+, especially in its latest iteration the two-wheel drive.
By David Twomey
As well as launching the European volume-selling version of the Dualis, Nissan has repositioned it and the all-wheel-drive version, effectively lopping $6000 of the base price.
That means the Nissan Dualis Hatch+ ST 2WD starts at a highly competitive $24,990 for the six-speed manual, with the CVT being just $2500 dearer.
The result is Nissan is expecting at least a three-fold increase in sales volume with Dualis Brand Manager, Adrian Givoye, predicting minimum sales in a full year of 7000 vehicles, a substantial jump from the 2400 Dualis AWDs that were moved last year.
As if that wasn't enough the company also indicated it is looking at a diesel version of the Dualis for sometime next year and, within a similar time frame, a stretched version of the Dualis, called the Dualis Plus, which offers seven-seats and will compete in the people mover segment of the market.
The Nissan Dualis looks like a compact SUV to us, but Mr Givoye assures us its meant to play in the very competitive small car segment, challenging the likes of the Toyota Corolla, Mazda3, VW Golf and Subaru Impreza RX.
At the same time he concedes the industry will probably call it a compact SUV, but says Nissan will be seriously challenging the main players in the hatch market by offering a vehicle which has more space, leading edge safety – it comes with an ANCAP five-star rating thanks to the inclusion across the range of six airbags and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) or as Nissan calls it VDC.
Essentially with the repositioning of the range the AWD versions of the Dualis will become a $2000 option on both the ST and Ti model grades.
Nissan Australian Managing Director Dan Thompson said the price position of the Dualis was the result of some hard bargaining with the company’s parent in Japan and positive currency movements between the Australian dollar, the British pound and the Euro.
The Nissan Dualis is built in Britain, hence the interest in the European currency movements.
It’s also the first mainstream product launch for Nissan, which has now added five new models to its range this year, the 370Z, the GT-R, the Murano and Maxima.
Mr Thompson said the Dualis Hatch+ now sat between the Tiida and the Maxima and offered the company the prospect of substantial sales volume in an area where it had not previously had a product.
He said Nissan was firmly of the view that the Dualis offered buyers in the 24-35 year-old bracket, with young families, a real alternative to the more conventional hatch offerings.
Mr Givoye said that with its high-riding body and spacious interior, the new Dualis 2WD will have great appeal to urban couples looking for more safety, style, features and flexibility than conventional hatchbacks could offer.
“The luxury of the Ti model, priced at $27,990, with its heated leather seat upholstery is unique among its hatch rivals,” he said.
The Nissan Dualis 2WD is a very safe vehicle thanks in part to six airbags, active head restraints, VDC, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and Traction Control System (TCS).
Like the Nissan Dualis AWD, the Dualis 2WD is powered by an aluminium 2.0-litre petrol engine producing 102kW and returning an impressive 8.2-litres per 100km in six-speed manual guise, or 8.3-l/100km with the optional Xtronic CVT with six-speed M-MODE.
“The genius of the Dualis 2WD is that it meets the needs of hatchback buyers who want more space and flexibility but don’t need an AWD vehicle,” said Mr Thompson.
“The competitive price point will come as a pleasant surprise, too, Dualis 2WD is pitched at the heart of the hatchback market and has a compelling value-for-money story to tell,” Mr Thompson said.
Nissan describes the Dualis as a five-door hatch with an elevated driving position, multi-configurable interior and high level of specification is sure to have broad appeal among the biggest segment of passenger car buyers.
The Dualis 2WD also boasts economy and handling comparable with mainstream hatchbacks, with the benefit of the elevated driving position.
From behind the wheel the sense is entirely that of a European hatchback, with high quality touch-points.
The Nissan DUALIS with its low roofline, short overhangs and compact exterior make it the ideal urban transport.
The command driving position delivers improved visibility and a sensation of security and control, yet the step-in height is perfect for customers of all ages, and both Dualis 2WD and AWD share the same ride height.
The modern styling is a standout shape that is aerodynamically efficient, more muscular than a hatchback, yet retaining a sleek look, especially in profile.
Interior styling is also notable for its cockpit feel, with the key switchgear and controls placed around the driver.
The load area swallows 410-litres of luggage, and is extendable to 1513-litres with the 60/40 split-fold rear seats pushed flat, or 860-litres with the seats folded, and the load area packed to the window-line.
It’s all of that and when buyers take to the road in it they won’t notice the loss of AWD as the 2WD version drives with the same solid feel, compliant ride and well modulated handling as its all-paw sibling.
Our sampling of the Dualis around Sydney’s suburban regions wasn’t exactly challenging, but Nissan did say this was the world of the Dualis, and they are not wrong.
However, switching from the slightly lethargic feeling six-speed manual to the CVT equipped model seemed to give an impression of a more spritely drive, probably the result of the CVT being eager to change ratios at the slightest demand.
A full appraisal of the Dualis Hatch+ 2WD will have to wait for a couple of weeks until CarAdvice gets its hands on a vehicle for an extended test.
MY2010 Nissan DUALIS pricing
DUALIS 2WD Hatch
ST Manual: $24,990
ST CVT: $27,490
Ti Manual: $27,990
Ti CVT: $30,490
ST Manual: $26,990
ST CVT: $29,490
Ti Manual: $29,990
Ti CVT: $32,490
Metallic paint $495
(All prices quoted are manufacturer prices and are exclusive of dealer delivery and on road costs.)