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Nissan Murano V6

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Nissan is going X5-chasing with 350Z power

What endears us to the forthcoming Nissan Murano SUV even before we've got behind the wheel is that it shares its engine with the 350Z. A useful credential if the Murano hopes to steal the mantle of best sporting off-roader from the BMW X5 when it arrives early next year.

The Murano's a bit of a looker, too, which again works in its favour in a market where people are starting to think there may just be too many X5s around. The spacious cabin follows the exterior's sporty theme with a 350Z-esque steering wheel and sportily cowled dials. Nissan's CEO, Carlos Ghosn, is keen for the company to be seen as a 'marque for enthusiasts' and the Murano would appear to be carrying on the good work started by the Z-car.

While the Murano is taller and wider than an X5, it doesn't feel hampered by its size on the road. The US-spec suspension of our test car lacked the ultimate sharpness that makes the BMW so special, but by the time the Nissan gets some Euro settings the gap should close a bit.

The 24-valve V6 engine has been detuned from its 350Z incarnation (down from 276bhp to 245bhp) but the torque is more readily available and thus finds a good partner with the standard, and silky smooth, CVT automatic gearbox. Without the usual awkward auto kickdown, you can quickly find a nice rhythm between bends. The other good news is that while more insulated, the 350Z's delightful V6 warble is still within earshot.

For a car knocking on the door of two tonnes, the Murano clips along nicely. Our test car was limited to 115mph by its US-spec tyres, but expect a comfortable improvement on that by the time it reaches us.

Final judgement on the Nissan will have to wait for a UK drive, but subjectively the X5 isn't likely to be threatened much in the dynamic stakes, although the Murano will probably show a Merc ML or Lexus RX300 a clean pair of tail-pipes.

High levels of kit and a c΂£30,000 price should guarantee the Murano a fair amount of attention, but as Nissan is bringing in just 1000 units next year, they won't be thick on the ground.

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evo RATING

 
[+]
Looks, space, spec. It's not an X5
[-]
Interior plastics. It's not an X5

evo SPECIFICATIONS

 
Engine: V6, 3498cc, 24v
Max power: 245bhp @ 5800rpm
Max torque: 246lb ft @ 4400rpm
0 - 60mph: 7.5sec (claimed)
Top speed: n/a (see copy)
Price: c.£30,000
On Sale: Spring 2005

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