by Brad Leach - 11/06/10
Nissan’s Series II Dualis is a ‘crossover’ in more ways than one.
As well as a ‘crossover’ vehicle, it crosses multiple vehicle classes. With available all-wheel-drive, it could be a compact SUV or – as Nissan says – it’s a sporty hatchback.
In essence, it’s a versatile all-rounder, a sales success at home in Europe (its manufactured in Sunderland, North-East England) where the Dualis represents one in every three Nissan vehicles sold.
Car Showroom has just spent a week in a Ti model Dualis. The ‘Ti’ badge signifies Nissan’s range-topping luxury variants and in the case of the Dualis that includes stylish alloy wheels and a nicely trimmed leather interior.
Priced from $29,690 for the 2WD manual, up to $34,390 for the top-of-the-line AWD version with CVT automatic, the Dualis Ti is a good buy. This Nissan will tick a lot of boxes – especially for families who need more space and versatility than a conventional hatchback.
Like other Dualis’ we’ve driven, the test car oozed excellent quality and high standards of manufacturing – a testimony to Nissan’s quest for quality at its British plant. It’s safe too with standard features including six airbags, ABS anti-lock brakes, stability control and traction control – just what family buyers need.
Nissan’s MR20 naturally aspirated 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine is a tried-and-proven unit with smooth power delivery and nice torque across the range. Maximum power is 102kW at 5200 rpm and peak torque of 198Nm is delivered at 4400rpm.
It’s a Euro IV compliant engine with emissions rated at 192g/km (2WD models). Fuel consumption is as low as 8.1l/100kms – that’s slightly lower than the previous Dualis range thanks to improved aerodynamics in the revised body.
For the Series II model, the Ti Dualis has gained some extra kit including a panoramic sunroof, dual-zone climate control air, rear privacy glass and Nissan’s Intelligent Key for keyless entry and starting.
In addition, the seats, center console, steering wheel and gearshift score nicely trimmed leather while the audio is upgraded to a six-speaker in-dash six CD system with MP3, Bluetooth and steering wheel remote controls. Rear seat passengers gain a fold-down armrest with two cup holders.
Also updated in the Series II lineup is the dashboard with an improved drive computer readout located between the main gauges – a white LCD display shows secondary information like the set cruise control speed (a handy feature all manufacturers should adopt). Graphics for the main gauges have been modernized.
You sit high – like an SUV – Nissan says this is a feature demanded by Dualis buyers, a point of difference from conventional hatchbacks. The steering wheel adjusts for rake and reach to ensure an optimum driving position.
Installation of the Car Showroom juniors’ child and booster seats was easy with three anchorage points and easily accessible seat belt buckles.
Some key changes for the Series II upgrades have really boosted the Dualis’ looks – a standout on the Ti is very nicely styled 18-inch alloy wheels.
Major changes are noticeable at the front with a much more muscular look – the bonnet is new with the twin ‘strakes’ now more raised and longer. The bonnet’s front edge is more tightly shaped to the new, flatter, wraparound headlights for enhanced aerodynamics.
Underneath, the lower bumper has a reshaped air intake, which contributes to the muscular look and also improves airflow to the radiator (now a sportier honeycomb design). The grille, with its centrally mounted Nissan logo and three-sided chrome frame, now adheres to Nissan’s standard global design for ‘crossover’ vehicles.
At the rear are new 12-globe LED taillights, clear lens reversing and indicator lights and a slightly revised tailgate spoiler.
The changes are more than aesthetic and have delivered a more aerodynamic Dualis with the drag coefficient now down to 0.33.
Regardless of whether you define the Dualis as a ‘crossover’, hatchback or compact SUV one thing is certain – it’s a good drive. As you would expect for a vehicle designed, specified and built in Europe, dynamics are sharp and the ride more firm/sporty than rival Korean or Japanese vehicles.
While some of the accomplished hatchbacks might have more appeal for enthusiast drivers, the Dualis succeeds as a vehicle that mum and dad will both enjoy. Over our mountain roads high speed loop our Ti test car turned in precisely with good mid-corner balance but just a tad more body roll than a sporty hatch.
Refinement levels were high even back in town as we traversed Melbourne’s tram/train track crossings and we enjoyed being re-acquainted with Nissan’s lively 2.0-litre engine – a willing worker right across the speed range. Our ridiculously tight CBD car park was conquered easily by all of our drivers despite the Dualis’ 10.6-metre turning circle not being the absolute best in the segment.
The Dualis is a family car and while it does have good versatility, with five adults aboard, luggage space isn’t massive – better than a hatchback but not quite a compact SUV.
We liked the Ti Dualis’ mix of European driving dynamics, practicality and value-for-money. The reality is most families shopping for compact SUVs could meet all of their needs in a Dualis.
Subaru’s Impreza hatch, Hyundai’s ix35, even the Mazda3 and Volkswagen Golf line up as cars you should shop against the Dualis. Honda’s CRV and the Mitsubishi Outlander are also in the mix but lean a bit too much towards genuine SUVs.
Nicely-styled, great value; excellent quality; nice to drive
A bit more luggage space would make it unbeatable
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