Nissan Murano

Mars Rover?

1.   What is it and what’s new?

It’s Nissan’s medium crossover offering, in its second guise here in SA. The new model steps up the futuristic looks once again, brings bigger rims and a new interior with some notable improvements including the family touch-screen including Sat-Nav and 40gig HDD … oh yes and a double panel sunroof. It’s not a serious off-roader (Pathfinder) but rather a soft-roader with what Nissan says is a focus to sporty on-road dynamics. This is where I think they’ve been drinking the Nissan coolade a little too long.

2.    Ok so what does it compete with?

At R540 000 it plays with most of the Germans, the Audi Q5 and BMW X3, as well as the Volvo XC60. Due to the fact that it doesn’t have a serious off-road focus and only has one model available in the form of the 3.5litre V6 it limits the competing models.

3.    But it has 4-wheel drive right?

Yes it features X-TRONIC Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), which has been revised with new, advanced shift control logic.

A 6-speed “manual” gearshift mode is also available on this transmission, which in turn drives the Intelligent full-time 4WD system (ALL MODE 4X4-i) incorporating Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) and Active Brake Limited Slip (ABLS) to maintain traction and stability in all conditions.

You’re not going to head off into the dunes as she’s quite a heavy vehicle, but will get you to the odd game-farm without struggle.


Inside Murano

4.    At that price it better be luxurious!

Correct, it’s not exactly cheap considering the competition and other family Nissan products at this price. The Murano is one of Nissan’s global products with a definite focus to the US market so luxury has definitely not been skimped on. Electronically adjustable-heated-leather seats, weird “gathered” leather in the doors, steering wheel controls for the Infotainment BOSE sound system with 40gig HDD, Bi-Xenon headlamps, rain sensing windshield wipers, auto lights, cruise control, reverse camera, and the list goes on. Honestly, they’ve packed everything in at the price, and it packs a big punch against the likes of the X3 and XC60 when it comes to spec.

Rear seating is spacious and comfortable, thanks to the flat floor, however front seats although comfortable never really got me “comfortable”. The seating position felt like the Chrysler Voyager, not IN but sitting ON, towering above everything. Not exactly a fan of that in a “sport SUV”

5.    So wait, they say it’s a sporty SUV? How?

Well, in their defence, they merely point out that this Murano definitely has been designed with a focus on how it handles and moves around town. The big 3.5litre V6 makes a good constant noise (thanks to the CVT) and has good low down grunt but it’s once you’re on the highway that I wasn’t exactly blown away, keeping it going up hills seems a little harder than you’d think. The ride and steering is about as focused to a sporty SUV as what the Jeep Wrangler is. There’s really very little feel in the vague-light steering, which again reminds me of an American SUV. It doesn’t wallow and pitch too much at low speeds, it’s only once you get going that it can get a little scary. To be frank, it can’t hold a candle against the X3 / XC60 when it comes to a sport ride.

This said, when you think of it as a comfortable city ride, it makes more sense, because that it does very well, the CVT making easy progress through the rev range with minimal revs at times thanks to the V6, and the supple suspension soaking up then bumps very nicely. I wouldn’t bill this one as a sporty SUV in my books.

New LED light cluster

6.    It’s a family cross over so is there space for kids and stuff?

The back seats are comfortable and spacious with more than enough head and legroom. The boot features electronic actuation which is a nice touch, and there’s a good amount of space in the rear. It’s not huge, and also isn’t deep but my neighbours pram and a suitcase for the flight fit in the back so can’t complain too much.

7.    So there’s only one engine variant?

Yup, it’s a 3.5litre V6 with 191kW and 336NM of torque available at 4400RPM. It’s mated to a CVT (Continuous Variable Transmission), which in layman’s terms is an automatic, but without the individual gears. As I am one of the people who actually enjoys driving, it necessitates that I should hate a CVT, which I do. This said, mated to the 3.5litre V6, it does move the Murano around with very little fuss, burbling around at 2500RPM everywhere you want to go. It makes sense as a comfy relaxed vehicle, but not if they focus is on a sporty SUV. Also, as you’d expect with a V6, the fuel consumption is on the heavy side. Nissan claims 13l/100, I got 14l/100km. Ouch.

8.    Considering the competitors would you buy it?

Nope. I’d much rather go for the Volvo XC60 D5 R-Design if you’re looking for something “sporty”, the BMW X3 starts at the same price but once you get it loaded with everything the Nissan has you’re in for close on R650K. Realistically the Volvo does everything the Nissan does, with less “American” feel to it, better drive and better fuel consumption.

9.    Any major gripes?

Besides the “American-ness”, CVT and seating position, I just can’t say I really thought…”wow this is great”. It all just felt a bit “meh” in the end to me.

10. Finally…

For the money, it competes well considering the heaps of standard features. If you’re in for a quiet comfortable drive, with loads of standard features and the back up of knowing you could take it off the beaten track, it’s a great buy. That said, if you enjoy a sportier drive, I’d consider some of the rivals.

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