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Nissan Murano 3.5 V6

Click to view picture gallery“Nissan have now introduced the
  latest version of their ‘business
  crossover’ — the five-door Murano.
  This original vehicle was launched
  in the USA five years ago and was
  introduced to the UK in 2004

  at a time when SUV/4x4 sales were
  more buoyant than they are now

SQUARELY AIMED AT BUSINESS AND CORPORATE USERS, Nissan's 4x4 Murano is priced from 32,795 (33,295 with the rear seat roof-mounted DVD system) and offers just one engine option — a revised 3.5-litre, V6 petrol unit (up by 22bhp and 12lb ft) with 252bhp of power and 246lb ft of torque. Fuel consumption has been improved by 12 per cent, CO2 levels lowered (by 11 per cent) and the engine is mated to the latest CVT seamless automatic transmission. A much needed diesel engine option will be available in about 18 months' time.

The Murano's new floorpan is 45 per cent stiffer than that of the outgoing model; the suspension is revised and the luxury specification is higher and now includes a colour rear view and nearside kerb parking camera.

You either like the trendy and sporty looks or you do not; but whether you do or don't won't be cause for concern at Nissan because this is a minority selling vehicle, attracting only around 700 UK customers in a full year. However, it allows the manufacturer to compete for niche business user sales against the likes of the new Audi Q5, Lexus RX350, Volvo XC60, Volkswagen Touareg and even the BMW X6. Consequently, in keeping with its important 'business user' status, the specification is high and the practicality of seating and a rear tailgate for easy load space access is efficient.

The ride is on the soft side, which allows the Murano to 'waft' along rather than providing an engaging drive. And while the body roll is significant on country roads, it does improve on motorways.

The standard-fit X-Tronic CVT automatic transmission dulls performance and engine response and, I suspect, affects fuel economy. Officially the average consumption is 25.9mpg — in practise over a variety of UK roads my test car returned just 19.4mpg. Not totally unexpected, given the permanent 4x4.

Owners will also pay 400 for a year's road tax, due to its 261g/km CO2 emissions — and this will increase to 440 from April 2009. Owners will expect high running costs and aside from a little sloppy handling will no doubt be pleased with the high quality specification and trendy looks. — David Miles

Nissan Murano 3.5 V6
| 32,795
Maximum speed: 130mph | 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds
Overall test MPG: 19.4mpg | Power: 252bhp | Torque: 246lb ft
CO2 261g/km | VED Band G 400 | Insurance group 16