Slick solution for the city
Prettying up box-like 4WD creations lifts their city appeal
MOST four-wheel-drives look great bashing through the bush but they’re not so attractive cruising our city streets, as most do.
When that reality struck home at car central the boffins hit on the idea of prettying up their box-like creations to make them more appealing to city slickers.
Vehicles such as the Nissan Murano were the result. They are equipped with decent4WD systems but don’t look out of
place in town.
MODELWATCH The Murano comfortably slotted into the crossover scene alongside cars like the Toyota Kluger, Holden Adventra and Ford Territory, but took the concept to a higher level.
It looked even less like a clunky 4WD than any of its rivals, with a slinky, wraparound shape that clearly set it apart.
Housed within the sweptback sheet metal was the same sweet 3.5-litre V6 that powered many Nissan models, most notably the 350Z sports car. In the Murano it was capable of 172kW at 6000rpm and 318Nm at 3600rpm.
The smooth-revving V6 is a revelation after the clunky old nails that lurk under the bonnets of some of its rivals.
Backing up to the V6 was a CVT continuously variable beltdrive transmission. Such transmissions lack the usual steps of a fixed-ratio transmission but, at the same time, the Murano’s manual shift option mimicked a six-speed for a more ‘‘ normal’’ drive feel.
Final drive was through all four wheels using a version of Nissan’s intelligent All Mode 4x4 system as found on the Pathfinder.
The system has two settings, Auto and Lock, the former a setand-forget deal that operates as a front-wheel drive for most of the time, but when sensors find wheel slippage drive is sent to the rear axle as needed.
In Lock the system is permanently locked in 4WD mode to handle more demanding conditions.
The ride is smooth courtesy of independent suspension all round, ABS controls disc brakes at each corner and the steering is power-assisted.
Rear vision is limited by the curvy shape and drivers have to be cautious when changing lanes or reversing.
City and the bush: The Murano’s slinky shape cloaks a capable4WDsystem
Comfy in the cockpit: The feel behind the wheel is much like a smaller car