The dual purpose Dualis is dually affordable.
- 2009 Nissan Dualis; 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, petrol; six-speed automatic; hatch - $27,990*
A 2WD 4WD. It makes about as much sense as an ashtray on a motorcycle.
But following the successful trend that manufacturers like Hyundai, Toyota and Holden have had in offering their SUVs in both all-wheel-drive and two-wheel-drive form, Nissan has managed to capitalise on one corner of the market that contains realistic consumers.
These realistic consumers understand that they will rarely venture off-road and that they will most likely use their quasi 4WD for city and highway commuting. On the occasion they do go off-road, they also realise that their quasi 4WD will be less than capable at the best of times.
The result is the Nissan Dualis 2WD Hatch; it’s a soft, soft-roader.
Although it carries the hatch designation, the Dualis Hatch looks no different to its AWD sibling. The exterior is a well balanced mix of style and function. Protective flared wheel arches and an increased 188mm ground clearance give the impression of ability off-road, while its hatch-like stance and ease of entry/egress make it capable within the city limits.
At the top end of the model range, the Ti model being tested features an opulent leather interior with all vital controls instinctively placed and easy to reach.
Generous amounts of leg room, along with ample head room make the interior a child and adult friendly zone – although I’m not sure about letting children with drinks or food near the leather.
Front seat passengers benefit from heated seats which are the perfect addition to a cold winter’s morning.
60/40 split-fold rear seats limit the boot capacity to 410 litres when upright. Once the seats are folded flat, the boot capacity increases to an impressive 1513 litres.
Starting at $24,990 for the Dualis 2WD Hatch ST, the Ti model being tested retails for $27,990 in six-speed manual form, while the CVT carries a $2500 premium.
Standard features include: Leather seats, 16-inch alloy wheels, power windows, power mirrors, 6-disc CD-player, central locking, cruise control, air conditioning, automatic headlights, automatic windscreen wipers, steering wheel mounted controls, Bluetooth integration, heated seats and rear centre armrest.
Safety is high on the priority list for families and Nissan has met expectations with Electronic Stability Control (ESC), dual front passenger airbags, front passenger side airbags, front passenger head airbags and rear passenger head airbags.
Powering the Dualis range is Nissan’s 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine that produces 102kW and 198Nm of torque. Mated to the engine in our test vehicle was a six-speed manual transmission.
Fuel economy is impressive. An official average fuel consumption of 8.3L/100km was bettered on test with the vehicle returning 7.9L/100km.
The light and accurate clutch works in harmony with the smooth, short-throw six-speed manual transmission.
Weighing 73kg less than its AWD counterpart, the Dualis 2WD Hatch accelerates with enthusiasm and is happy to rev freely during overtakes and while zipping through tight spaces.
There’s a little bit of body roll, but not enough to raise eyebrows.
Brake pedal and steering feel is spot on for this type of car. The steering is firm enough for comfort at highway speeds while offering little resistance during parking manoeuvres.
The crowded soft-roader segment is abuzz with a large cross-section of manufacturers and a myriad of models and options.
The Nissan Dualis 2WD Hatch does away with complexity and offers a simple line-up with brilliant pricing. The level of standard features and versatility make the Dualis an offer too good to refuse.
CarAdvice Overall Rating: How does it Drive: How does it Look: How does it Go: