Check the bottom line
Nissan has sharpened its pencil on the Dualis, writes PAUL GOVER
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.