Classy crossover had

hidden depths

Nissan Murano, 2005, interior
Nissan Murano, 2005

SOME cars of recent years deserved many more sales than they actually got.

One such was the Nissan Murano, a classy mid-sized SUV crossover with styling inspired by the famous glassware of Murano in Italy.

Introduced in Europe in 2004 it was a pioneer in the premium crossover sector and as such was expensive.

But there was far more to the Murano than most people think - and that was its amazing roadholding and pure 4x4 ability.

One night in the mid 2000s I was travelling home from a work engagement when a true blizzard struck. I had to take some hilly roads which were littered with abandoned cars and more than one or two well-known 4x4 marques.

Soldiering on I had to drive the Murano at an angle up a steep now covered bank to negotiate my way round a a stretch limo that was well and truly stuck sideways and when I arrived home I was told that no car had been able to drive down my street for the past four hours.

But not the Murano because I was even able to reverse park it up a hill and calmly shuffle off to home comforts.

So why was this vehicle, which some viewed as something of a style statement, so different from run of the mill 4x4s? I had driven a lot of all-wheel-drive vehicles but this one really impressed.

The secret, I firmly believe, was a rather heady match of a transversely mounted 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine, CVT auto transmission and Nissans 4x4 system.

It was superbly poised and balanced and to me was one of the stars of the 2000s.

It was then one of the largest cars to use continuously variable transmission and it paid the price in terms of fuel economy, achieving 23mpg at best and around 18mpg if driven enthusiastically.

Handling was excellent due to the all independent suspension system and it had a handy turn of speed at 124mph maximum and a 0-62mph figure of 8.9 seconds.

Murano may not achieve iconic status, but to me is was an amazing design that deserved to do better.

It was never a massive seller for Nissan in the UK but the name is being revived with a new Murano which may well be a more familiar sight on our roads.

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