NIS­SAN DUALIS

A good all-rounder, Nis­san’s diesel SUV would have even greater ap­peal with au­to­matic trans­mis­sion

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Car News - CRAIG DUFF craig.duff@cars­guide.com.au

The turbo diesel SUV is a good all-rounder, though at a pre­mium price and with­out an auto trans­mis­sion

PETROL still pow­ers most com­pact SUVs and cars like Nis­san’s new Dualis TS turbo diesel are only ever go­ing to make a mi­nor dent in the num­bers. It’s one of the most ef­fi­cient diesels Cars­guide has tested and has good stan­dard gear but the ab­sence of an auto trans­mis­sion lim­its its ap­peal.

VALUE

At first glance the $29,990 bot­tom line for the fron­twheel-drive Dualis is fairly con­vinc­ing and a re­minder why the com­pact Nis­san con­tin­ues to sell in big num­bers. The diesel’s $4000 pre­mium over the base ST also brings fog­lights, dark-tinted rear

‘‘ pri­vacy glass’’ and chrome bling but is a big ask.

Buy­ers who drive 15,000km a year will save about $800 per an­num on the oil burner, so it’s not a com­pelling propo­si­tion. Stan­dard kit in all vari­ants in­cludes cruise con­trol, Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity, sat­nav and re­vers­ing cam­era.

TECH­NOL­OGY

The pur­suit of fuel econ­omy led Nis­san to fit an un­ob­tru­sive stop-start sys­tem on the diesel, giv­ing it a class-lead­ing fig­ure of 4.5L/100km. The 1.6-litre engine comes from the Re­nault arm of the al­liance and is a ro­bust and will­ing per­former. It would be so much bet­ter mated to an auto trans­mis­sion, how­ever.

The limited range in­her­ent in a small diesel— there’s about 2500 rpm of us­able grunt — means the left hand never wants for work on the sixspeed man­ual gearshift. Keep it stirred and re­sponse is en­thu­si­as­tic enough to make the petrol ver­sion feel slug­gish.

There’s noth­ing wrong with the man­ual box but in an era when CVTs and au­tos— both of which Nis­san does well— are the de­fault op­tion, it is an ob­vi­ous omis­sion.

DE­SIGN

The Dualis has been a win­ner for Nis­san since it launched here in 2009. Smart use of limited space means the back seats are big enough for kids and the cargo area will han­dle most loads. The in­te­rior plas­tics, while not best-of-breed, feel solid and are easy to clean. Out­side, the look is clean and un­clut­tered. The roof doesn’t curve down as much as some ri­vals, which helps give the Dualis that ex­tra rear space, while the ta­per­ing glass pro­file still gives it a swoopy ap­pear­ance side-on.

SAFETY

Six airbags and a five-star ANCAP rat­ing are the num­bers that count for the Dualis. Its over­all score is a cou­ple of points off the lead but im­pres­sive for a car of its age.

The basics are solid with di­rect, if light, steer­ing, de­cent brakes and sus­pen­sion to soak up the bumps at city speeds rather than keep the car planted to the road as the pace picks up.

DRIV­ING

A gruff re­sponse to the ig­ni­tion switch in­di­cates the Dualis is a diesel but the clat­ter tones down a touch once un­der way. Cabin noise is one of the few ar­eas where the Nis­san loses out and rear-seat pas­sen­gers griz­zled about road and engine noise un­der mid-throt­tle ac­cel­er­a­tion.

The meat of this engine lies from 1500-4000 rpm. Ma­nip­u­late the man­ual to keep it there and the diesel is a brisk per­former; shift too early and

Omis­sion crit­i­cal: Nis­san has very handy CVTs and self­shifters — but not in the turbo diesel TS (red ex­am­ples be­low)

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