Nissan's Murano lives in a bit of a time warp; it's only just got its first diesel engine. Yep, you read that right. This full-ish sized premium SUV has been operating in just 0.6% of the derv-crazy crossover segment with a spanking great big 3.5-litre petrol-slurper.
Now the new 2.5-litre diesel has arrived, it's suddenly opened up 86% of the segment, which is dominated by diesel automatics.Right. I see why the Murano is such a niche seller...
Indeed. Nissan shifted just 250 last year in the UK, but that cultish petrol model continues alongside this new diesel.
Those low sales volumes are a shame, really. The 3.5 V6 petrol Murano was always a pleasant thing, a curio straight out of the American crossover scene with a relaxed gait and a sky-high specification. Roomy too. It always cut a dash – the sort of car you'd notice if it passed you in the street.But what the hell have they done to the looks!
Yes, yes. We know. They've utterly spoiled what was a crisp, clean design. I remember the last time I was in Tokyo in 2007 being given a sneak preview of the new Murano – and all the visitors in the design studio were gobsmacked by the heavyhandedness of the refresh. My notes from the first drive read: 'Like an explosion in a chrome factory.'
The front end of the Murano has been ruined by a Clapham Junction of chrome tracks, criss-crossing the Murano's grille. Twenty-inch rims are now standard too.
That kicked-up window line and those cartoonish wheelarches give the car some real character. This is the big daddy of Nissan's burgeoning crossover line and this car's design is mostly slick, with none of the bravura of the Juke but with some fussiness letting the side down.Is it better inside?
Thankfully, yes. There's a decent ambience in the Murano's cabin and it's really roomy. Despite being 4wd, there's a flat floor and therefore plenty of space for rear-seat passengers. The Murano is ultra-roomy in the back, too – and the rear seats pop down at the tug of a lever (this was very novel back at launch in 2003) to extend the boot.
The twin sunroof in our car makes it nicely airy and bright inside – perhaps too much, as our spec is blighted by bad reflections on the windscreen in strong sunlight.How does the new Nissan Murano diesel drive?
Very well, actually. It's a relief to have a proper torque-converter auto 'box, after suffering the yelping scales of the CVT transmission on the petrol V6. The auto is well tuned, keeping the engine nice and quiet, and slurring each gearchange.
The new diesel is a four-cylinder engine snaffled from the Pathfinder SUV. It's actually quite refined here, yet can't compete with the multi-cylinder engines you'll find in most rivals. Punchy enough, though, with a chunky 332lb ft of twist from just 2000rpm.
The Murano rides quietly around town – especially so considering those whopping 20in alloys – and retains all the soft, floaty comfort that I remember it for. It may lack the sophistication of an X5 or M-class, yet it's a very likeable crossover.
Don't buy this car expecting any thrills, however. The steering is mostly incommunicative and the Murano is at its best at a wafty cruise. Things get a bit lurchy when you really press on in the diesel.Verdict
Would you buy a Murano? For the thick end of £38k, you'd have to be brave to buy a Murano diesel. Depreciation is put at 35% retained value (3yrs/30,0000 miles) by our pricing expert colleagues at Parkers, and we'd predict that many buyers will pump that sort of money into a very tempting German premium badge.
Would they be right? You've have to really want the alternative style of the Murano and its brimming spec list to pay that sort of money. We imagine that what will seal the deal will be that four
-cylinder engine where its rivals sport six-pots, the distinctly dodgy facelift and the Nissan badge.
People spending nearly £40k will surely demand the sophistication to match their spending power.