If you have Rs 40 lakh in your bank account and are looking to buy something "different" for a crossover, we suggest you wait and let the interest accumulate to pay for this, the Nissan Murano.
Expected to be introduced in early 2009, it might be the only new model between now and the first of the cars to roll out from its plant at Chennai.
The Murano was first launched in December 2002 in the United States as a large crossover to complement the Pathfinder as a more urbane and sophisticated SUV. The second generation was launched at the Los Angeles Motor Show in November last year. While the first generation always appeared in the Star Wars vein of things, the second generation seems to have taken the game forward.
While maintaining the same greenhouse and body frame, the rest of the exterior and interior has been thoroughly refreshed. The headlamps are new quad-projector headlamps, there's a new grille and 20" wheels. The rear features new LED tail lamps while a dual stacked moonroof completes the new exterior package.
The interior too features new aluminium accents and leather seats. Climate control, memory seats and mood lighting are new to the Murano, to compete well with some of the German offerings higher up.
There's also Bluetooth and a push starter button to add some appeal, though it is becoming de rigeur in these segments. Entertainment system includes an 11-speaker Bose unit with a 9.3 GB hard-disk to store your songs as well as head-rest mounted LCD screens for passengers in the rear.
Where the Nissan will create ripples is with the powertrain. The 3,500cc 24-valve DOHC V6 petrol that powers the famous 350Z and a host of Infinitis power the Murano, and is well known for its high-revving capability as well as good torque spread.
In the Murano, the engine produces 265 bhp@6,000 rpm with more than 34.28 kgm of torque available at 4,400 rpm. The engine itself is quite high-tech with a variable induction system and a continuously variable valve timing system or CVVTS.
The motor is mated to a continuously variable transmission system that utilises the torque well making the SUV quite driveable in city conditions as well as across high rpms.
It also has an advanced real-time 4WD system. Unlike a separate 4WD system that allows for serious off-roading, the Murano's intelligent system begins with a 50:50 split, which can move to either 100 per cent torque to the front wheels, or 60:40 and 80:20 split options during cornering. So while it might offer a host of power split options, it doesn't mean it is a true off-roader, so treating it like a Honda CR-V on off-road sections makes more sense.
More than its off-roading ability, the question is whether the Murano can hold its own against the others. Though it looks the part, its possible price-tag of Rs 40 to 45 lakh seems quite forbidding. That's the price you have to pay for a head-turner, we guess.