Crossover oozes fun

Bobby Cheetham

IT was great making acquaintances with an old friend recently. Way back in 2004 at Auto Africa during the launch of the Nissan Murano, we said we liked it and were impressed by one of the first genre crossover vehicles to reach South Africa.

The Murano was subsequently honoured as the first sport utility vehicle (SUV) nominated as a finalist in the South African Motoring Journalists’ Car of the Year competition in 2005.

At that stage, not many people knew what a crossover vehicle was. Now, however, we all know what it is: it is an SUV that effortlessly bridges the divide between a passenger wagon and an SUV.

But we were not impressed with the space-saver spare wheel.

This – together with not having a spare wheel – is one of the biggest cons the motor industry has pulled on buyers.

We were, however, ecstatic to see our test vehicle was fitted with a spare wheel.

Good show, Nissan, at least you are listening to what your buyers are insisting on in Africa.

Powering the Murano is the same 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine that powers the growling 350Z sports coupé. Producing 191kW of power and 336Nm of torque, performance credentials are suitably athletic.

The 0-100km/h dash is achieved in 8.0 seconds and top speed is over 200km/h.

Back in 2004 the vehicle’s engine was rated at 172kW at 6000rpm with torque of 318Nm at 3600 rpm.

The zero to 100km/h time was 8.9 seconds and top speed was given as 200km/h.

This characterful engine propels the Murano emphatically through an x-tronic continuously variable transmission revised with new, advanced shift control logic. A six-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 and active brake limited slip to maintain traction and stability in all conditions.

All of the urge on tap is harnessed and transferred smoothly to the road thanks to the Murano being built on passenger car underpinnings – independent suspension all round with a versatile multilink rear suspension design and shock absorber mounting point insulation ensure an even smoother ride.

Speed-sensitive power steering also offers the ideal mix of effortless manoeuvring and precision handling.

A neat feature is the new Nissan premium connect infotainment system, featuring a 40GB hard disk drive (HDD) Satnav system and 9.3GB HDD music server – all controlled via a touchscreen display.

This latest-generation electronic system includes full Bluetooth capabilities and USB and iPod connectivity for digital music sources, as well as DVD playback.

All of this is integrated with the premium 11-speaker Bose audio system with which the Murano is equipped as a standard feature.

Priced at R588600, the Nissan Murano remains one of our favoured crossovers in the market.

The price includes a five-year/90000km service plan with the option to upgrade to a maintenance plan.

 

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