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Nissan Murano

Nissan's engineers have turned the Murano into a Grand Tourer

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Cosmetic changes are an acquired taste, but the big alloys and black paintjob undoubtedly give the Murano GT-C a striking look. Alterations under the skin are likely to divide opinion, though. A performance hike and raspy exhaust note will win fans, yet the firmer ride and greater fuel thirst make the standard car a better all-rounder.

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Is it possible to turn an SUV into a luxurious sports car? Well, Nissan thinks so, and this is what it has come up with. The Murano Grand Tourer-Concept, or GT-C, was dev­eloped by engineers at the firm’s Euro­pean Technical Centre in Cranfield, Beds.

This is the team responsible for the supercharged 350Z GT-S we drove in Issue 924 – but is the one-off Murano as successful as the cool coupé?

From the outside, the GT-C is certainly different! Its sleek lines get a menacing black paintjob, while the door mirrors, grille, roof bars and door handles feature a smart deep bronze finish. There’s also a swoopy rear spoiler, plus huge 22-inch alloys clad in liquorice-thin rubber.

Inside, the hand-stitched two-tone leather interior sets the concept apart from ordinary cars. Expensive materials trim the door pillars and rooflining, while the CVT box’s shifter – as well as the storage tray – is made of hand-blown glass from the Italian island of Murano.

However, the changes aren’t only cosmetic. The V6 engine has gained a turbo and is linked to a raspy exhaust with four tailpipes, taking power from 232bhp to 335bhp. The 0-60mph dash now takes around seven seconds – two seconds faster than the standard car.

Stiffer suspension is added to match the pace – this lowers the Mur­ano’s ride height by 35mm – while uprated AP Racing brakes are visible between the spokes of those enormous alloys.

So are the alterations a success? At idle, the 3.5-litre V6 sounds the part, and there’s no arguing with the performance. But the CVT auto blunts the res­ponses, and the exhaust is too noisy for a ‘Grand Tourer’. The huge alloys ensure you feel every bump, and there’s too much body roll. The standard car returns 23mpg, but the extra 100bhp means you can watch the needle on the fuel gauge drop.

Ultimately, this model is a step too far for Nissan’s experts. Elements of the GT-C could make it to the options list, but while the special 350Z struck gold, the Murano is much less convincing.

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