Nissan Murano Preview

Nissan India have been on a roll since their success with the bread and butter Micra model. They are to shoe-horn a diesel version into it shortly to increase the sales. Coming on the heels of the Micra Diesel would be a slew of SUVs. First amongst them would be the widely acclaimed Nissan Murano. Now, we aren’t sure if they would retain the same name for the SUV in India since their Altima was changed to Teana in India whereas the March was named as Micra. Nissan India is desperate to taste success in India like their more successful endeavors elsewhere. The Murano is one of them.

Murano name is derived from Venice, Italy. This particular place was known for production of hand blown glass and the expertise with which it was conducted. Now, we don’t know the connection as to why it hand blown glass and name of an SUV should coincide.

The New Nissan Murano is one of the crossover SUVs that was brought to the showrooms world-wide by Nissan in 2002. Surprisingly, it uses the same platform as the Nissan Teana in India. After the Murano, Nissan went onto introduce the X-trail and the Rogue. For India, the X-trail has been launched with moderate success whereas you would be hard pressed to see a Teana in the Indian streets.

Looks

No other SUV in India looks like the Murano. Not until the Lexus range is introduced. Butch looks alongwith a typical robustness missing from even the Audi Q7 justifies the front end. The point is that we aren’t sure if it’s the newly launched 2011 model or the older 2010 model that would be coming to India. If it’s the former, the aforementioned looks are apt whereas if it’s the 2011 model, then those looks have been entirely changed. Nissan have been known to alter the Murano’s face and interiors every production year.

Assuming it is the 2010 model that would be launched in India, you get a flaring bumper with a 3D grille job. The grilles as stacked vertically with a slant and they make way for the Nissan corporate logo. Behind the logo, you will find a honey combe grille. Besides the grille are the wrap around head lamps which house bi-xenon and LED lined head lamps. The bumper is neatly integrated with the grill and houses a low profile air dam. You will find two powerful tear drop shaped fog lamps embedded in the bumper. A lower skid plate completes the picture.

The long hood as well as big glass area look good on this crossover. The wing mirrors are huge and are in the Landcruiser territory. The side profile is bland save for a running footboard and a huge crease running from wheel to wheel. Speaking of wheels, they are of the standard 20 inch types. The alloy wheels design is also quite tasteful to look at and they do the job of filling the wheel arches well. The door handles are of the pull type variety and imbibe a sense of heaviness when you tug them. The roof rails are of the chrome type and have a centrally placed radio antenna. As with any crossover, there is a rear quarter glass and the tail lamps extend all the way to the side profile.

Cut to the rear profile and the Murano looks totally revolutionary. It has got to have the best rear in any Indian car across segments, so far. The tail lamps cluster is of the LED type and have a sort of lightning streak design to them. The reverse lights are split by the tastefully done bootlid. The rear glass has a single wiper stalk and the glass area is big as compared to the side ones. The stop lamp is mounted high on the roof. The bumper is protected by an aluminium skid plate and houses two tail pipes, one on each side.

Interiors

As we have seen with X-trail,Altima nee the Teana, Nissan have first rate interiors for their cars. The Murano is no different and actually sports a higher trim level than the aforementioned. The steering wheel is a four spoke affair and houses prominent buttons for the navigation, cruise controls and audio. The dashboard is of the flowing types and it has a centrally mounted touch screen navigation system which even doubles up as audio system. It even features Idrive like rotary knob alongwith a slew of side buttons. The good thing is that the dash doesn’t look cluttered and everything seems at the beck and call of the driver.

As with the X-trail and Teana, you get perforated leather seats, ambient lighting in the footwells and cubby holes, audio and climate controls swathed in chrome. The seats are comfortable and have a 8 way adjustment alongwith memory functions. The steering as is the norm is adjustable for tilt, rake and reach. Dual zone climate controls also pamper the rear passengers with separate AC controls and vents for them. The Bose audio system is of a high quality and has 11 speakers attached to it. It is very hard to find fault with the Murano’s cabin and the saying that “tough outside but soft inside” fits the Murano to the T.

The rear can seat three in quite comfort and has good leg room. However head room may be an issue for tall passengers because of the coupe like sloping roof line. The seats can be split 60:40 accomodating for more of the luggage if the 550 liters boot space wasn’t enough.

Handling and ride quality

Since we haven’t test driven it, we wouldn’t be able to comment much about it however the international spec Murano’s have an all independent wheel suspension which should pretty much sort out the ride and handling stakes. The front fork is of the independent strut type and multi-link independent comprises the rear one.

This combination has worked well on the butter smooth roads of Europe as well as the pot-holed ones of Japan and so should work well in India as well where finding more of the former is a rarity.

Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

Indian bound Murano’s would have the 3.5 litre, 3498cc, V6 petrol engine. This is the same engine which is there even on the European and North American markets. Its peak power is 252 hp at 6,000 rpm and the maximum torque churned out is 334 Nm at 4400 rpm. Now, we would have to wait and see if they detune the engine in regards with Indian fuel. A diesel would do more of the trick and Nissan would in all likely start with a diesel model in India.

Performance figures for the European Muranos read as 0-100 kmph in 8.0 seconds. If the similar specced Murano comes to India, it would be a scorcher SUV as far as performance goes. The fuel efficiency for the petrol would be ideally 8 kmpl in the city and 14 on the highway.

The transmission is a 6 speed CVT with manual override functions and if at a diesel is launched, it would have the 6 speed manual. The Murano would have a electronically limited top speed of 236 kmph.

Braking would be handled by Disc brakes on all the four wheels. It is supported by 4 channel ABS, Brake assist, Electronic stability program and EBD.

On the safety front, the SUV would feature 6 airbags, seatbelts with load pre-tensioners, a lane change assist, active front head restraints and a crashworthy body.

Verdict

The Nissan Murano in India is one of those few awaited SUVs. It would be a tough competitor to the likes of Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Mitsubishi Montero. However the things not going Nissan’s way are its lack of dealerships and service center, general awareness about Nissan’s products in the car buying public’s minds and brand image. But, if you buy a Nissan, you would be buying refinement at its best, performance that would blow you away and an interior that would pamper you no matter in which mood you are.

Nissan Murano Price is expected to be around Rs.37,00000 –Rs.49,00000 and would be launched around May 2011.

Technical specifications

Engine: 3498cc, DOHC, V6 Petrol
Gears: 6 speed CVT with manual override
Maximum Power: 252 Bhp @ 6000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 334 Nm @ 4400 rpm
Width: 1882 mm
Length: 4787 mm
Height: 1729 mm
Steering: Tilt and telescopic
Seating Capacity: 5
Tyre Size: P235/65 R20
Suspension: Independent strut, Multi-link independent
Brakes: Front Ventilated, Rear Disc

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