First impressions: new Nissan Murano

* All-new Murano driven * Car not production-ready * We give early impressions...

First impressions: new Nissan Murano

We've had the chance to drive Nissan's all-new Murano 4x4 - although we should stress that it was in a USA-spec car, rather than one tuned for UK roads.

Familiar though it may look, it has a new chassis, its always-attractive styling has been polished, there's an uprated interior, the 3.5-litre V6 engine and continuously variable (CVT) automatic gearbox have been revised and the suspension is lighter with the aim of improving the ride and handling.

Nissan has even managed to make the roomy and versatile interior a bit - well, roomier and more versatile.

Levers and electric switches in the boot now make it possible to stow and raise the rear seats in a jiffy, and there's a fold-away cargo organiser. It's all well built, too, with a more expensive-looking interior.

The V6-CVT combination remains as smooth as a lothario's chat-up lines, and there's an extra 34bhp and 13lb ft of pull to call on compared with the outgoing car.

Not that the Murano ever feels as gutsy as the figures suggest: it sets off promisingly enough, but then everything seems to peter out prematurely - and don't even mention running costs. Salvation will be at hand in the form of a diesel by the end of next year.

Worse still is the crashing ride and soggy damping on uneven roads, though there's still time for a retune before the car gets to Europe.

In its present state it all feels too American - fine for ambling along, but not really up to a challenge.

Nissan Murano
Price from 30,000 (est)
On sale October
You'll like Still looks great; nicer cabin
You won't Low-speed ride; running costs