New diesel allows SUV to finally fulfil potential
Finally, the Murano is the car it always should have been. With a punchy yet quiet diesel engine and a proper six-speed auto box, the big Nissan is good to drive and costs much less to run than the thirsty petrol version. Add in distinctive looks and a well equipped interior, and you’ve got an attractive SUV. Lacking the premium and sporty feel of Audi and BMW-badged products, it will remain a rare sight on UK roads, but buyers will be getting a lot of car and kit for the money.
HAS the Murano turned over a new leaf? Since its launch back in 2005, the big Nissan SUV hasn’t felt at home in the UK. While rival manufacturers have increased sales by offering efficient diesels, the Murano has soldiered on with a thirsty 3.5-litre V6 petrol, saddled with an unrefined CVT box. As a result, it’s been hard to like.
But this 187bhp 2.5-litre diesel changes that. Hooked up to a slick six-speed automatic, it’s fast yet economical. And it’s quiet, too. Ignore the quoted 0-62mph time of 10.5 seconds, because with 450Nm of torque there’s plenty of shove for overtaking, while it’s easy to return 35mpg too – some 10mpg up on the petrol version, even if it lags behind the smaller 2.0-litre diesels of the BMW X3 and Audi Q5, which return more than 40mpg.
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The new six-speed automatic gearbox is a huge improvement as well, offering a fine blend of responsiveness and refinement. What’s more, the whole drivetrain is very relaxing on the motorway.
In fact, relaxing is a good way to describe the rest of the driving experience. Nissan’s ALL MODE 4x4 system gives the flagship SUV solid stability in wet weather, while the ride is smooth, the handling tidy and the steering accurate, if rather numb. Plus, with decent soundproofing, the Murano insulates occupants from the outside world, even if it’s not particularly fun to drive.
Inside and out, Nissan has done a good job updating the Murano’s appearance. It still looks distinctive, but the new grille is far easier on the eye than the previous model’s rather garish affair, while the cabin is classy, with soft leather for the supportive seats.
Priced at £37,795, the Murano is not cheap, but you do get a lot of equipment – an 11-speaker Bose audio system, sat-nav with a seven-inch colour touchscreen, Bluetooth, iPod connectivity and two parking cameras – one for the side and one for the rear – as standard.
All in all, the Murano may not be challenging for class honours, but it’s a better car than ever before.