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Nissan Murano – order now for delivery March 2005



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Nissan’s recent model line-up has not exactly included cars that set the pulses racing. But the launch of the 350Z this summer was the first part of the Japanese manufacturer’s product-led revival with styling that promises to reinvent Nissan’s image.

The latest part of this revival is the Murano, Nissan’s sixth four-wheel drive (it will soon be seven with the imminent arrival of the Pathfinder), but the first which puts it into premium SUV territory. Labelled as an ‘individual urban sporty 4x4’ it will be marketed at those who want the 4x4 experience, but with the comfort and performance of conventional family car.

With just one engine option – the 3.5-litre petrol taken from the 350Z, an auto only gearbox and an impressive standard equipment list that leaves options to a minimum, it is primed to take on the likes of the Lexus RX300 and popular – and driveable – BMW X5.

And as a crossover that is more car-like than SUV to drive, it certainly looks capable of holding its own against the competition. Handling and grip are akin to something a lot lower to the ground while the detuned 3.5-litre unit is smooth and refined.

This together with the seamless continuously variable transmission means the Murano is more than capable around tight twisting bends, as well as having the performance to be quick in a straight line.

In terms of design, there are elements of the 350Z plus a hint of Micra in the rear tailgate and light clusters.

It certainly stands out from the crowd and its individuality will be a big attraction for buyers. Nissan is aiming to keep the Murano fairly exclusive in terms of numbers – it is only aiming for 1,000 sales in its first full year and it has no plans to introduce a diesel option in this generation.

Strengths: Styling, ride, well equipped
Weakness: Thirsty, limited choice of colours
Opportunity: Takes Nissan into premium 4x4 territory
Threat: No diesel
The USP: Off-road 350Z
Price: £29,800
Engine: 3.5-litre V6, 240bhp
Transmission: 6sp CVT automatic, 4x4
Performance: 0-62mph 7.5secs, 124mph top speed
Efficiency: 23mpg combined, 295g/km CO2
Service Intervals: 9,000 miles
CAP RV (3yr/30k): TBA
Rivals: Lexus RX300, BMW X5, VW Touareg, Mercedes M-class, Volvo XC90

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