Out­side the boxy

The Weekend Post - Motoring - - USED CAR -

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When peo­ple talk of think­ing out­side the box they must be re­fer­ring to the SUV, the ul­ti­mate au­to­mo­tive box. With the Mu­rano, Nis­san changed the way we look at them.

Any­thing but box-shaped, the Mu­rano had con­tem­po­rary lines you as­so­ciate more with reg­u­lar pas­sen­ger cars. That’s the point with the Mu­rano — it’s more a fully fea­tured high­rid­ing car for town-bound peo­ple rather than those want­ing to travel far and wide.

The Mu­rano first ap­peared in 2004 and set the tone. The Z51 se­ries that lobbed in 2009 con­tin­ued the theme with even more lux­ury.

It was an evo­lu­tion of the pre­vi­ous Z50 yet ev­ery panel on the Z51 was new, the grille and head­lights were new and so was the cabin.

It was based on the same plat­form as the Max­ima sedan but at 1800kg and 4.8 me­tres long, it was quite a large wagon. The up­side: the cabin was rather spa­cious.

There was plenty of legroom front and rear, and there was de­cent amount of lug­gage space as well. If you folded the rears you got even more cargo space.

The Mu­rano didn’t get a safety rat­ing from ANCAP, or a Euro­pean one for that mat­ter, but it was well equipped to han­dle an awk­ward sit­u­a­tion with a raft of safety fea­tures in­clud­ing elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol, anti-lock brakes, elec­tronic brake force dis­tri­bu­tion and emer­gency brake as­sis­tance, and six airbags.

There were two ver­sions, the ST en­try model and the full of fruit Ti.

The ST came with stan­dard air­con, cruise con­trol, power seats, six-speaker CD sound, MP3 and trip com­puter.

Step up to the Ti and you got sat­nav, re­vers­ing cam­era, power fold­ing seats, power tail­gate, driver’s seat mem­ory, key­less en­try, pre­mium Bose au­dio, Blue­tooth, rain-sens­ing wipers, roof rails and fog lights.

Both mod­els ran a 3.5-litre V6 (191kW/336Nm). The per­for­mance wasn’t ex­hil­a­rat­ing but it suf­ficed while re­turn­ing 10.9L/100km be­tween fuel stops.

A con­stantly vari­able trans­mis­sion, the sole gear­box, had six pre­set change points to make it feel more like a con­ven­tional gear­box.

The high driv­ing po­si­tion and good vi­sion all-round made the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence plea­sur­able, and with its light steer­ing it was rel­a­tively easy to park.

NOW

Mu­rano own­ers re­port they are gen­er­ally happy with their cars. Some heap high praise on them, which should give sec­ond-hand shop­pers con­fi­dence to pro­ceed.

Owner re­ports tend to be on lim­ited rather than wide­spread is­sues. They’re worth not­ing but don’t jus­tify too much con­cern.

There are a few things to be aware of when think­ing about buy­ing a Mu­rano.

The first is the en­gine. It’s a gem, silky smooth and with heaps of power and torque, but at 3.5 litres it’s a large ca­pac­ity job in to­day’s terms when mak­ers are mov­ing to small­er­ca­pac­ity tur­bos for power and econ­omy.

Com­bine that with a ve­hi­cle that weighs 1800kg and you’ve got the per­fect recipe for high fuel con­sump­tion, and at 10.9L/100km claimed av­er­age the Mu­rano is clearly thirsty.

You also have to fac­tor in that Nis­san says it’s best run on pre­mium un­leaded, an­other slug to the hip-pocket.

The CVT has pre­set change points to make it drive more like a con­ven­tional au­to­matic but it’s still a quirky bit of kit that can be trou­ble­some.

It’s im­por­tant to give the trans­mis­sion a thor­ough work­out to high­light any drive­abil­ity is­sues it might have, those typ­i­cally be­ing shud­der­ing, surg­ing, hes­i­tat­ing or jerk­ing.

Nis­san rec­om­mends ser­vic­ing the Mu­rano ev­ery 10,000km, and chang­ing the CVT oil ev­ery 100,000km — it’s im­por­tant that these are fol­lowed. To con­firm this, check the ser­vice record of any car you’re con­sid­er­ing.

It’s also worth not­ing the re­ports of ex­pen­sive ser­vic­ing and poor cus­tomer re­la­tions from deal­ers. Own­ers say these have soured their ex­pe­ri­ence.

OWN­ERS SAY

Alan Ed­wards I’ve had my Ti five years and ab­so­lutely love it.

I love ev­ery­thing about it, even the CVT. The only thing I would crit­i­cise is the cost of ser­vic­ing. Sally Hur­ren: I bought my Ti in 2011 and love it. It looks great, has heaps of legroom and is quiet on the road. Gary White­man The Ti is great to drive, the en­gine is pow­er­ful, the in­te­rior is lux­u­ri­ous and it has all the trim­mings. Glenn McIn­tyre I had to re­place a leak­ing head gas­ket on my 2010 ST at 80,000km. It was out of war­ranty and cost me $3000, which I think is un­ac­cept­able. Steve Pel­lan­dine The only is­sue I’ve had with my 2013 Ti has been with the sat­nav, which didn’t work. I’m happy with the car apart from that but I’m not happy with the treat­ment I’ve had from the dealer. Peter Wil­liams: I’ve done 162,000km in my 2009 Ti and it still drives like new. It’s great. Paul Dar­ling: I’ve owned two Ti Mu­ra­nos. The first one had rat­tles and noises from the day I bought it, plus the Blue­tooth didn’t work. The dealer couldn’t fix it. I traded it on an­other one two years ago and now the CVT is giv­ing trou­ble. What makes it worse is the way Nis­san treats you when you have a prob­lem. I won’t buy an­other one.

SMITHY SAYS

A big barge for city dwellers but it’s stylish, com­fort­able and full of fea­tures.

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