DUALIS EARNS PLENTY OF PRAISE
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.