Auris vs Dualis? Depends on use

Hi Baraza,
I would like to buy my first car and I don’t want to go wrong because I have been saving for it.

Kindly help me choose between a Nissan Dualis and a Toyota Auris.


Hi Martha,
The Nissan Dualis is what is more commonly called the Qashqai, or what I simplified two years ago as the Cash-and-Carry, because that is how that strange name is sounded out. Dualis is the name used in Australia and Japan. On the other hand, Toyota’s Auris is the direct replacement of the famous Allex/Runx duo.

Your question begs questions of its own: What exactly do you want the car for? How much outlay do you have ready for disposal? Do you like big cars or small ones? Are you an out-of-the-box, radical, anti-establishment, standout kind of individual or do you flow with the (Toyota) current?

Here’s the deal: The Auris is a small car, the Dualis not so much. The Toyota is a hatchback while the Dualis is a crossover. This means that the Auris is more compact, lighter, easier on fuel, more fun to drive, easier to park and will generally cost less, but we will need to revisit the pricing aspect shortly.

The Dualis is a bigger vehicle, which has its advantages. It is roomier inside, with plenty more space for luggage, there is a seven-seater version for that extra bit of practicality and the extra ground clearance added to optional 4WD means it will rush in where the Auris fears to tread.

Now come the comparisons that the guild of motoring journalists expects us to spew out but few people really care about: the Auris is available with eight different engine types, three of which are diesel.

Don’t bother with those, small diesel engines in small cars tend to be awful in the long term, buzzing on the motorway, turbos overspooling in thin air at high altitudes, torque appearing in little burps and service intervals timed to coincide with bathroom breaks on a night of heavy drinking (annoyingly frequent).


The Dualis has to make do with a mere five options for the power supply, only two of which are derv. To get the best out of the Auris, go for the 1.6 litre petrol; 132hp is good enough for your needs, and coupled with a 6-speed manual, will make a petrolhead out of you if you aren’t one already.

The 160hp 2.4 sounds like an overkill, unless you intend to take part in one of our tarmac motorsports events. For the Dualis, you will need to go all out and spring for the top-tier 140hp 2.0 litre MR20, coupled with a boggo automatic transmission. That combination is also called “a Nissan X-Trail in different clothes”.

I would have recommended the CVT gearbox but Car Clinic has taught me many things, chief among them that CVT gearboxes are an avenue through which hapless owners get themselves milked dry by unscrupulous mechanics.

Now, the pricing: The Dualis costs between Sh1.4 million and Sh1.6 million on a popular online shopping website, with lows of Sh1.2 million and highs of Sh1.8 million. That is the ball park you are looking at: Sh1.5 million. Meanwhile, the Auris hovers around the Sh1 million mark, with lows of about Sh850,000 and highs of Sh1.2 million.

Is a used Dualis worth that much? I hardly think so: I can get its bigger brother, the X-Trail, for a similar amount. The X-Trail will be more useful — at Sh1.5, it might be of higher mileage than the Dualis.

I think the Dualis looks a bit poor and deserves its equally poor ghetto name: Laquisha. The X-Trail might find another buyer faster too, once you are done with it.

The thing is, with a Dualis, you are likely to stand out, especially if you get it in Burnt Orange. There is no escaping from the shock value of that paint scheme on a semi-bulbous van-like ogling car.

The Toyota is obviously overpriced. A car that size has no business costing that much, but remember, this is Kenya. I once made a pun out of Toyota’s slogan and wrote: “The car in front is always a Toyota. The car behind is also a Toyota, and most likely the car you are in is a Toyota too”.

Too many of them on the road, unwavering demand and suppliers of both vehicles and parts are making a killing.

Take your pick. The Toyota is expensive but it’s likely to hold its value longer (because of market dynamics). The Dualis will be more useful in your life if your life stretches beyond the daily slog shuttling between home, supermarket and office. Or you could just get an X-Trail.


Hi, Baraza JM,
I have been dealing with spare parts for some time now, especially for vehicles whose parts are rare. I have come across some very unusual patterns in regard to salvage Honda Airwave Cars during my search for spares.

I noted with great concern that the Honda Airwave seems to have a problem with the front wheel suspension. Most of these cars are new KBV, KBZ etc. My questions are:

1. Has any other person(s) or Insurance Company registered a similar complaint about this make of cars?
2. How can we help to avoid this problem if these cars have a front wheel suspension problem?
3. I would like to buy a Honda Aria but am worried that it might have similar problems, or even more.

Kindly advise about this vehicles?


Hello Cyrus,
This is an email that I have taken keen note of. Given that you are a parts supplier, I trust your exposure to these matters far exceeds my own and so I take your word with the weight it deserves. It would have helped a lot if you had included pictures of the front suspension components you speak of. That said:

1. I haven’t yet received any complaints specifically targeting the front suspension of the Airwave or any of its components.

2. There isn’t much we can do. To start with, the Airwave was not, and is not, officially sold in Kenya by Honda or any of its franchise outlets. What we have here are imports from the far corners of Asia, so any complaints we might have will more likely than not land on deaf ears.

Secondly, these cars were designed with specific markets and specific uses in mind. You might hear many referring to “Kenyan roads” when they refer to the lunar landscape that defines access roads to locales where development is yet to reach fully.

They don’t have such problems where these cars are initially sold, so there is no need to engineer a front suspension like a Toyota Hilux.

Third, just from observation, I have noticed that Airwave ownership is dominated by two demographics:

a) new drivers, i.e people buying their first cars with driving licences that are only several hours old; and

b) taxi operators.

These are the two exact suspects that come to mind whenever one imagines the kinds of people who hit potholes with gusto. Hit enough potholes and you will wreck your suspension.

The biggest sufferer is, of course, the front suspension, seeing how it bears the load of the engine, plus the added weight of the relocated fuel tank exclusive to the Airwave/Fit/Aria/City Global Small Car platform.

In other words, I am pointing a finger squarely at the drivers, not the car, as far as the front suspension issue is concerned. Trawling the Internet reveals that this problem is not widespread, so it might not be a real issue. Blame the drivers.

3. The Airwave is the estate version of the Aria.


Dear Baraza,

Thank you very much for your advice on motoring every Wednesday.

I have questions regarding the new shape Toyota Hiace ex-Japan, mostly used as 14-seater matatus in Kenya. The ones manufactured between 2004 and 2007 had a 1KD diesel engine, turbo charge, and a 2500cc engine. The ones manufactured from 2008 to date have 2KD diesel engines, are turbo charged, with a 3000cc engine. My questions are:

1. These vehicles have a big problem of turbo failure after being driven from Mombasa port to Nairobi or after serving one year in the country. What could be the reason?

2. Is there a special oil/care for turbo-charged cars like the above-mentioned Hiace?

3. What is the difference between 1KD engine 2500cc and 2KD engine 3000cc?

4. Can a turbo timer assist in extending the useful life of turbo-charged cars?

5. Turbo charged engines, especially diesel ones, have short useful life, what could be the reason?

John Mwangi

The “new shape” Toyota Hiace is also called the Quantum, whose internal designation is H200. The H100 series comprised the Commuter and the Shark.

1. Poor maintenance. Many times, I have written about how turbo engines need proper care and maintenance. “Proper care and maintenance” are words unfamiliar to operators in the PSV industry.

Turbocharged diesel engines are especially prone to failure if handled carelessly. Most of them need a spool-down period after extended use to allow the turbo to slowly dissipate heat and gently lose oil pressure rather than cutting off the engine immediately, causing a sudden drop in both.

Heat and lubrication are the two biggest factors that affect the health of a turbocharger.

2. Diesel engines generally use heavier, more viscous oils while turbochargers call for lighter, easier flowing oils. For proper information, contact the local dealer and/or consult the vehicle manual.

I believe the oil for the turbo is different from engine oil in this case but the people maintaining these engines might not be taking this into consideration when servicing these vehicles.

3. The displacement, for starters. One is a 2.5, the other is a 3.0 litre. This means their biggest difference is in bore and stroke. The 1KD in the 3.0 litre generates about 173hp and 352Nm torque, while the 2KD does 101hp and 200Nm without an intercooler.

This is the other difference: the 1KD has a standard intercooler while the 2KD has the intercooler as optional. With the intercooler, the 2KD generates 118hp and 325Nm. A recent update saw the 2KD’s output increase to 142hp and 343Nm.

The third difference is in the turbocharger: the 1KD uses a variable geometry turbo (the vanes on the impeller adjust their angle to vary boost pressure) while the updated 2KD uses a variable nozzle turbine (the axial diameter of the inlet is adjusted by a sliding wall to vary boost pressure).

4. Yes it can. That is the reason it was invented in the first place.

5. Diesel engines generally live shorter lives than petrol engines. This is because of the engine loads involved – higher internal pressures generated during combustion and heavier components have bigger moments of rotational inertia, as well as their application in heavy duty work.

Turbochargers by themselves are very sensitive and prone to failure, so couple this with the almost ephemeral nature of the stock diesel engine and you can see why they don’t last long.


What are the positives and negatives of buying a Toyota Prius Hybrid car?
Bernadine K. Omoto

I believe I have addressed this topic more than once and in detail. If I recall correctly, one of those write-ups was in poetry form. Here’s a summary:

Positives: good fuel economy (or so you might think), plus the positive feeling that you are saving the planet. Also, you can look down on drivers of powerful cars with massive V8 engines and accuse them of destroying the environment when you both know full well you cannot afford a V8 (or can you?)

Negatives: the economy is not as good as they would have you believe. Also, you are not saving the planet. Costly when new, it may be a swine to fix when the hybrid powertrain gets emotional, performance is rubbish, interior is rubbish, the looks are rubbish (for earlier models) and honestly speaking: what do you want a Prius for? Unless you plan to dissect it and study its innards for your own edification, you are better off in a diesel Auris



Leave a Reply