Check the bot­tom line

Nis­san has sharp­ened its pen­cil on the Dualis, writes PAUL GOVER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

MOST peo­ple will not see or feel the changes to the Nis­san Dualis un­til they get to the most im­por­tant part, the price. The com­pact hatch — some might call it a mini wagon — has been tweaked to take a big­ger slice of the small-car class with an im­por­tant price cut.

It now starts at $24,990, much closer to Corolla coun­try, thanks to a front-wheel-drive model and some hard bar­gain­ing with Nis­san head­quar­ters in Ja­pan.

The bot­tom line is down by $6000, though Nis­san is keep­ing the all-wheel-drive Dualis for peo­ple who want more of the SUV ex­pe­ri­ence, more con­fi­dence for sandy beach tracks or get­away week­ends, and are pre­pared to pay an ex­tra $2000 to get it.

The front-drive Dualis feels solid and se­cure and very few peo­ple will ever pick the dif­fer­ence un­less, as I did this week, they make a steep up­hill start and feel the front wheels scratch­ing for grip un­der hard ac­cel­er­a­tion.

The Dualis is a cross­over crit­ter that com­bines a higher seat­ing po­si­tion and a big­ger lug­gage space to chal­lenge ri­vals in the most pop­u­lar new-car class in Aus­tralia. It has yet to fire, but that’s mostly down to price and an odd­ball po­si­tion in the Nis­san line-up.

But the com­pany is con­vinced the tweaks and the sharper price will do the job.

‘‘Why are we do­ing this car? It’s a per­fect fit in the prod­uct port­fo­lio. It sits pre­cisely be­tween Ti­ida and Max­ima and it’s what the brand has needed,’’ Dan Thomp­son, the manag­ing di­rec­tor of Nis­san Aus­tralia, says.

‘‘It’s a big op­por­tu­nity for Nis­san to be­come a sig­nif­i­cant player in the small-car class. It de­liv­ers a need we have and ticks the boxes. It’s quite an im­por­tant op­por­tu­nity for the brand.’’ But what about buy­ers?

Apart from the sharper price, the Dualis trum­pets five-star safety, a 2-litre petrol en­gine and six-speed man­ual or CVT au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

There is no skimp­ing in the spec­i­fi­ca­tion or fin­ish of the front-drive Dualis — which Nis­san prefers to call the ‘‘two-wheel-drive’’ model — de­spite its price-fighter po­si­tion.

It has tweaked the ba­sic equip­ment with two model grades, ST and TI, but even the base car gets al­loy wheels, cruise con­trol, air­con­di­tion­ing, power win­dows and mir­rors and a tilt­te­le­scope steer­ing col­umn. The Ti picks up leather trim, a six-stack CD sound sys­tem, au­to­matic head­lamps and wipers, Blue­tooth phone con­nec­tion and more.

Sharper: Nis­san is hop­ing the front-drive model will bring the Dualis up to speed in the mini-wagon class.

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