Weekend Courier - - Driveway - Ian Curry

NIS­SAN’S Dualis was a small SUV trail­blazer, be­ing one of the first to mar­ket as a com­pact hatch-4WD cross-over.

The lit­tle SUV en­joyed a suc­cess­ful sales run in Aus­tralia from its early 2008 in­tro­duc­tion through to 2014, when it was re­placed by the Qashqai.

Own­ers seem to be a happy bunch, smit­ten with its spa­cious­ness, ease of driv­ing, com­fort, econ­omy and gen­eral re­li­a­bil­ity.

The Dualis has not been bul­let­proof. There’ve been a few re­calls for steer­ing is­sues, some own­ers com­plain about qual­ity of cer­tain com­po­nents and the con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion comes in for some crit­i­cism.

You also shouldn’t ex­pect much in the way of per­for­mance from Dualis en­gines, ei­ther.

Pos­i­tively though, de­spite the ad­vanc­ing years, ma­jor ex­pen­sive fail­ures ap­pear in­fre­quent.

Over­all, buy­ing a used one looks a de­cent bet, not least as you can pick up tidy early ex­am­ples from about $7000.

Over­whelm­ingly used as town and city cars, most are front-wheel drive rather than 4WD; CVTs are twice as pop­u­lar as man­u­als, and nearly all are petrol-pow­ered.

A diesel man­ual late in its life cy­cle proved not too pop­u­lar.

Longer wheel­base +2 ver­sions can also be a de­sir­able seven-seat op­tion for fam­ily buy­ers.

At launch the Bri­tish-built Dualis came in ST or Ti grade, each with a rather tepid 102kW four-cylin­der, and the choice of man­ual or CVT, front-drive or on-de­mand 4WD.

Shop­pers should tar­get post-April 2010 cars, as th­ese Se­ries II mod­els brought fresher body styling and im­proved fea­tures.

The 211mm longer Dualis +2 (CVT only) with three rows of seats ar­rived at the same time, while VDC was stan­dard across the range to en­sure all mod­els were five-star safety rated.

From 2010 the ST added 16-inch al­loys, wheel mounted au­dio con­trols and Blue­tooth; the Ti gained 18inch­ers, panoramic sun­roof, key­less en­try and dual-zone cli­mate con­trol.

In May 2012, the Ti-L added a 360-de­gree view to aid park­ing and in April 2013 an ST-based TS diesel joined the range, bring­ing su­perb fuel econ­omy and ex­cel­lent torque.

Praised for its cabin and boot space and prac­ti­cal­ity, plus the AWD op­tion, the Dualis may not have been a thrilling drive but was cer­tainly a de­sir­able all­rounder and, for a time, Aus­tralia’s best­selling small SUV.

The AWD vari­ants have smart on-the­fly switch­able drive but th­ese Nis­sans are true soft road­ers.

If you sus­pect a used one has had a hard life off bi­tu­men, look for a city slicker in­stead: there are plenty out there.

Ev­i­dence of a hard life in­cludes un­der­body or sump dam­age and knocks to the base of bumpers and wheel arches or nu­mer­ous light scratches along the body­work.

Ver­dict: Hold­ing up well for its age, the Dualis re­mains a re­li­able and prac­ti­cal fam­ily SUV.

Pick one that has had an easy city life and tar­get post-April 2010 mod­els for bet­ter equip­ment and style.

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