Once in years, comes a Murano

2009-09-11 14:44

TRYING to find a car under half-a-million rand with all the nice extras one could dream of having can be a daunting task but Nissan has come up with the solution to this with its second-generation Murano SUV.

Nissan SA is planning to capture the hearts of traditional premium and compact SUV buyers with this offering of an all-inclusive package in the M-Crossover segment.

And with motorists always looking for the extra optional features the Murano might just be a winner as most of the bells and whistles one would normally have to fork out ­extra money for come as standard goodies.

The only optional feature not added is a navigation system, which sells for R10?000, and an upgraded five-year/90000km maintenance plan for R8?800. Usually one would have to pay an arm and a leg (about R30?000) for an SAT-NAV system in an Audi or a BMW. That’s not the case with the Murano.

Sadly, this model came too late for our Science and Technology Minister, Naledi Pandor, who ordered matching Mercedes Benz MLS at a combined value of R1.4?million.

Pandor threw in “bling” worth R154?000, which included metallic paint, sunroof, heated front seats, command navigation, technical off-road package, Xenon active lights, a privacy glass, DVD players and a media interface.

The Murano, which comes standard with some of the aforesaid goodies, sports a 3.5 litre petrol V6 engine that has been refined and now kicks out 191kW of power and 336Nm of torque. This is also possible thanks to the engine mated to the X-tronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) with a selectable six-speed manual mode. Even better, the car is an all-wheel drive.

On the performance side the ­Murano takes eight seconds to get from ­0-100km/h and has a claimed top speed of 210km/h.

The manufacturer says the average fuel consumption has been ­improved from 12 litres/100km to 10.9 in a combined cycle. Super cool.

The Murano doesn’t only look the part with its edgy styling it also functions pretty well on gravel roads as motoring media found out at its launch in George in the Western Cape. Thanks to the 4X4-i system this machine is always ready and raring to hit all surfaces.

While I reminded myself that the test drive wasn’t going to be on tarred roads and was told to expect rocky mountain terrain because the car is an SUV, truth is I was amazed that while test driving I hardly felt a bump behind the wheel.

The fact that I had good company with me didn’t help either as we all chatted each others ears off like three old ladies over a cup of tea. And yes, my other driving partner happened to be a man.

Total driving distance for the day was about 300km. On the first stretch we drove 60kms on a dirt road to a dainty little farm that served the most exquisite homemade meals . ­After all the eating I did not think it would be comfortable to drive on more bumpy roads on stuffed tummies.

Once again I was wrong because this car offers comfort at its best. In fact, one can almost fall asleep in those comfy and luscious seats.

A car like this could seriously turn any driver into a lazy motorist. With convenient goods bursting at the seams I would say I am not far off from the truth.

It starts with the new intelligent key, which the manufacturer say is linked to a security system that combines electric power steering and lock-up functions with a ­conventional engine immobiliser coded to the ID-chip embedded in the key itself for better security. In plain simple automobile terms, this means that the driver can enter the car and push the start button without having to remove the key from his pocket or her handbag.

The car also comes standard with the 11-speaker Bose audio system, iPod and Bluetooth connectivity.

Another feature men drivers will appreciate is the new park-assist camera in the near-side door mirror that points downwards.

Men constantly complain of how their better halves keep scraping the rims against curbs. This camera is designed specifically to show drivers how close to the curb they are. The second camera is placed in the back bumper.

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