First introduced in South Africa in 2004, the Murano met a warm welcome and was included as a contender for the 2005 SA Car of The Year. In 2009 it received a number of small updates, including a mild facelift and here we are in 2012 with the latest rendition of Nissan’s flagship SUV.
The basics are all the same. The Murano is still characterised by athletic looking lines set atop a substantial mass of SUV, but for 2012, Nissan has given the Murano a makeover for contemporary premium appeal. Although still the same shape overall, the grille has been ‘cleaned up’ with the elimination of two vertical chrome pillars on either side of the prominent Nissan badge, while the bumper molding below it has also been redesigned with a deeper and wider air vent for the radiator, as well as smooth recesses for the fog lights. Other minor changes to the Murano’s styling include a new set of 18-inch alloy wheels in titanium-finish and a pair of modern looking LED taillights.
As with the exterior, the Murano’s interior has been left largely untouched, save for a few updates to the trim and a new sunroof. The Murano has always offered a generous amount of passenger space and comfort, while being loaded with luxuries. Standout features include the 11-speaker Bose sound system with 6-disc CD changer; keyless entry and drive; rear and left-hand-side cameras for parking assistance; an electronically operated tailgate; electronically operated rear seats that raise and lower in a 60:40 split configuration.
The cabin materials and their fitment is of high quality, with the heated leather seats have been given a new design pattern and, as before, they remain positively plush. The centre console now features updated and colour-coded finishes, helping to achieve a more luxurious ambiance, together with revised dials for the driver’s instrumentation that feature white backlighting. A new, electrically operated, double-panel, sunroof is now standard equipment. The sunroof can be opened fully, has a tilt function and features sunshades that can be electronically drawn across the UV-protective glass. The addition of natural light into the cabin is a welcome one, however, the sunroof was best enjoyed either closed or in its tilt setting, because despite having an integrated wind deflector, it still created a fair amount of wind noise when opened fully.
Enhancing the Murano’s luxury appeal in no small measure is its supple suspension and silky smooth drivetrain. Independent suspension all round, with a multi-link design at the rear, as well as special insulation around the shock absorber mounting points, ensures an interior free of vibration. In addition, effective sound-absorbing materials are present throughout the body and even the thickness of the carpeting is designed to reduce outside noises.
Powered by the same 3.5-litre V6 as found in the 350Z sports coupé, the Murano has 191 kW and 336 Nm at its disposal. The fact that Nissan haven’t given the Murano a full bag of beans with the 350Z’s 230 kW and 358 Nm is a little disappointing, but as it stands, the Murano will sprint from 0 – 100 km/h in 8.0 seconds and reach a top speed of 210 km/h. Nissan claim an average fuel consumption of 10.9 L/100km for the 2.3-tonne SUV, but surprisingly I managed even better at 10.6 L/100km, which is pretty good considering I reveled in the V6′s soundtrack on occasion too. The tried and trusted V6 is silky smooth in its operation. It’s quiet and unobtrusive when it needs to be, but sings a rare and sweet sounding naturally aspirated V6 tune when you plant your right foot.
The V6 is combined with a CVT transmission, a system that’s prone to loathsome comments in almost any vehicle equipped with one, but you know what, the Murano maybe the first exception. With 6 preset ratios, the CVT can be operated in manual-like, sequential mode, which can be useful when overtaking and needing to set the engine closer to it’s peak torque output at 4 400 r/min. The rest of the time, the Murano is happy to be left to its own devices, offering uninterrupted acceleration without the engine reaching for the rev limit with every prod of the throttle, as is so often the case. When you do decide to make haste and the engine does muster up every last ounce of power in an effort to please, it does exactly that, ‘please’. The momentum may take a while to build as the CVT gradually gets on terms with the power being sent to all four wheels, but you’re left with a wonderful V6 soundtrack ringing in your ears that makes it so obvious why Nissan declare the Murano to have the soul of a sports car; even if it is a detuned one.
While it may sound like a sports car when you wind it up, it doesn’t like to corner like one. The suspension that does so well at providing a luxurious ride, makes little effort to rise to the occasion if you decide to dive into your favourite corner. While the independent suspension does a good job of absorbing mid-turn bumps and keeping the Murano on your chosen line, it’s simply too soft and allows too much body roll to translate into fun. Sure, you can make swift progress with plenty of tyre noise and the VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control) working up a sweat, but you’ll be working hard to stay in your seat too. Driving the Murano at seven tenths instead of ten, with the V6 singing away, a fresh breeze filtering through the sunroof and a steady beat from Bose sound system, is the best way to enjoy this luxurious Nissan.
What we like…
- Interior space, comfort, equipment and new sunroof.
- Smooth and uninterrupted acceleration from the X-Tronic CVT gearbox.
- Why would you buy an Infiniti FX37? Do you really want or need to clip every apex in your SUV?!
What we would like…
- A single alert when using the power-assisted tailgate – the continuous beeping is a bit much.
- Park-distance control in front, as the front bumper extends surreptitiously beyond the bonnet.
|Base Price||R562 925|
|Warranty||3 year / 100 000 km|
|Engine Capacity||3 498 cm³|
|No. Of Cylinders||6-cylinders, V-formation|
|Power||191 kW @ 6 000 rpm|
|Torque||336 Nm @ 4 400 rpm|
|Transmission||CVT with selectable 6-speed manual mode|
|Drive type||All-wheel drive with electronically selectable diff-lock|
|Acceleration||0-100 km/h in 8.0 seconds (claimed)|
|Top Speed||210 km/h (claimed)|
|Fuel Consumption||10.9 l/100km (claimed combined)|
|CO2 Emissions||261 g/km|