Re­li­able and durable

A step up from a small sedan or hatch, this all­rounder suits a fam­ily

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Used Car - GRA­HAM SMITH gra­ham.smith@cars­guide.com.au

NEW The Dualis was a com­pact SUV aimed at the small-car buyer want­ing a higher seat­ing po­si­tion and a bit more lug­gage space than a con­ven­tional small sedan or hatch.

It strug­gled when launched in 2007 but the Se­ries II up­date in 2010 re­aligned it closer to its tar­get mar­ket with price shifts that brought it tan­ta­lis­ingly close to the hard-charg­ing seg­ment lead­ers.

The main mod­els were fron­twheel drive wag­ons that gave buy­ers a wagon with the main ben­e­fits of an SUV, ie, high driv­ing po­si­tion and cabin space for lug­gage. Some vari­ants were quite highly equipped mod­els and for those who had a big­ger tribe there was a seven-seater.

All came with a 2.0-litre four­cylin­der petrol engine with peak out­puts of 102kW/198Nm. It ran on reg­u­lar un­leaded and had plenty of zip when re­quired. The trans­mis­sion op­tions were a slick six-speed man­ual and a CVT auto that could be shifted man­u­ally thanks to pre­de­ter­mined gear set­tings that made it seem like a man­ual.

Fi­nal drive was pre­dom­i­nantly front­drive but for those who wanted the ad­di­tional safety and feel, there was on-de­mand all­wheel drive that fed power to the front wheels when needed.

All mod­els were well equipped. Even the base ST got al­loy wheels, cruise con­trol, air­con­di­tion­ing, power win­dows and mir­rors and tilt and reach ad­justable steer­ing col­umn. Out­lay more cash and the Ti gave you leather, six-stack CD sound, auto head­lamps and wipers and Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity.

NOW Own­ers are gen­er­ally con­tent with their choice of the Dualis but there are a few com­plaints that are worth not­ing when check­ing a car be­fore pur­chase.

Some own­ers com­plain about the per­for­mance from the 2.0-litre engine, re­port­ing that it strug­gles when loaded, and with 102kW that’s not sur­pris­ing. If you are likely to be reg­u­larly driv­ing with a load of kids or cargo, get some weight into the car when test­driv­ing so you can get a feel for the per­for­mance and make up your own mind.

Oth­ers are wary about the CVT. Such trans­mis­sions have been around for decades and they have never been as widely used as they are to­day. This means we’re see­ing more prob­lems with them than ever be­fore as car mak­ers sort of the glitches that arise. It’s absolutely cru­cial to test-drive your car and put it through its paces un­der as many driv­ing con­di­tions as you can imag­ine, from park­ing speed to high speed, ac­cel­er­a­tion from rest and at speed, over­tak­ing etc, so you can get a good feel for the way the CVT op­er­ates.

Some driv­ers have been con­cerned about the way the CVT drives. The idea of the CVT is to keep the engine op­er­at­ing in its most ef­fi­cient range, and some­times

SMITHY SAYS De­cent all-rounder for the fam­ily seek­ing more than a small car can de­liver. that feels as if it over-revs when it seems like it should be se­lect­ing a higher gear. This flar­ing is just some­thing you have to get used to.

Brake wear is of­ten raised as an is­sue and Dualis own­ers re­port that they get about 50,000km from a set of ro­tors and some be­lieve that’s not enough.

The Bri­tish build qual­ity isn’t as good as the Ja­panese build, and there are also re­ports of qual­ity is­sues with in­te­rior trim and plas­tic in­te­rior bits and pieces fall­ing off due to wear and tear.

The trade gives the Dualis a guarded tick of ap­proval, say­ing that it’s re­li­able and durable, but it’s let down a lit­tle by build qual­ity and the rel­a­tively high cost of re­place­ment parts from Bri­tain com­pared to Ja­pan.

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