Design and Engineering

Design and Engineering

Good Released in Australia at the start of 2008 and facelifted in April 2010, the Dualis uses a tried and tested platform shared with the X-Trail and Renault Koleos (and a number of Nissan & Renault small segment passenger cars). The updated styling gets the big tick from us; the new front end design (a restyled bonnet, grille, bumpers, headlights and front mudguards) is more aggressive and also far more interesting than the original design. The Ti grades feature big 18 inch alloys as standard.

August 2010 saw the arrival of the Dualis +2, featuring a wheelbase stretched by 13cm and a longer rear end which sees overall length increase by 21cm over the regular Dualis. The +2 also features longer rear doors and a 4cm higher body height so room in the third-row rear two seats (hence the +2 name) should be decent.
Not so good The regular Dualis features a shorter rear overhang (than most Compact SUV’s) and the sloping rear roofline ensures cargo space is on the small side for an SUV, but comparable to a small segment family hatch.
Interior and Styling

Interior and Styling

Good Clear & logical dash design - the materials are of good quality and we like the funky 3-spoke steering wheel with adjustment for both tilt & reach. Forward vision from the driver’s seat is excellent and the higher seating position (compared to small family hatches) provides a better view in traffic. The huge glove box keeps drinks cool (it’s air-conditioned) and second row seat legroom is bigger than average.

The April 2010 facelift see’s additional storage and a more refined cabin with new mood lighting.

The Dualis +2 features stow-away third row seating – with the third row seats folded down the boot space is an impressive 550 litres (140L over the regular Dualis) and if the second row bench is not in use the rear storage can grow to a huge 1520L!
Not so good Front seats could offer more side support. The third row seats (Dualis +2 grades) are only for smaller people, best to think of the Dualis +2 as a smart choice for a family with 2 or 3 kids, with the 3rd row seats for occasional use only. With all three rows of seats in use, rear cargo space is limited.
Performance

Performance

Good The Dualis is offered with just the one engine – a 2.0L petrol 4-cylinder producing 102kW of power and 198Nm of torque. Shifting through the gears of the six-speed manual is a pleasant affair (auto is optional on the Dualis, standard on the Dualis +2 grades). The 2.0L Petrol engine is smooth and refined and 90% of torque is available from a low 2000 revs; however best to keep the revs up or the Dualis can feel underpowered...
Not so good The 2.0L Petrol engine lacks punch when taking off from the lights (sure, 102kW & 198Nm is about average in a small family hatch - however with the optional AWD transmission, the high-riding Dualis weighs more than most hatches). The Dualis +2 is around 100kg heavier again so whilst the official combined fuel economy figure is a respectable 8.5L per 100kms (for a petrol powered 7 seat SUV), it sure isn’t a sports car.
Ride and Handling

Ride and Handling

Good Steering is decent. The AWD grade's can be driven in 2WD or AWD (by the turn of a large chromed knob near the gear shifter). The ride is comfortable yet relatively dynamic for an SUV, thanks to some fine tuning of the suspension for all April 2010 onwards grades. As the Dualis +2 is around 100kg heavier than the shorter Dualis, Nissan have thankfully used a different suspension set-up, steering modifications and fitted larger front brakes.
Not so good The raised body height brings with it more body roll and less fun than from the class-leading hatchbacks - however, compared to most Compact SUV’s it is quite good.
Buying and Owning

Buying and Owning

Good Opting for the front-wheel-drive only Dualis = a saving of 0.2 litres per 100kms (comparison with the six speed manual). The Dualis is awarded an excellent five star safety rating by ANCAP – thanks to the standard six airbags, active front seat headrests and seatbelt pretensioners, anti-lock brakes, brake assist, traction and stability control. The entry level ST grades feature cruise control, air-conditioning, steering wheel mounted audio controls, a CD/MP3 audio and Bluetooth connectivity. The range-topping Ti grades add leather seats and steering wheel, a six-disc CD player, an intelligent key, dual-zone climate control and a huge panoramic glass roof.
Not so good No turbo diesel engine = higher fuel economy and less torque (pulling power) than a number of competitors.