10 November 2003

Nissan is strengthening its offroad portfolio with the US-bred Murano SUV, which could be sold in the UK in as little as 12 months. Unveiled in right-hand-drive for the Japanese market at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show, the conversion would prove essential for its introduction in the UK market.

Set to fill the gap between X-Trail and Patrol, the 4765mm long crossover vehicle is almost 100mm longer than a BMW X5. But at only 1689mm tall, it stands lower than Munich’s best-selling offroader.

Nissan’s biggest hurdle to introducing the XC90 rival to the European and UK markets, is the absence of a worthy diesel V6 engine – the Isuzu-sourced V6 oil-burner in the Renault Vel Satis is quickly becoming obsolete. Petrol options would include the 245bhp 3.5-litre V6 currently sold in the US and also used in the 350Z.

Unlike the larger Patrol, which sits atop a body-on frame chassis and solid rear axle, the Murano rides on a sophisticated multi-link independent rear suspension with front- or all-wheel-drive.

If Nissan’s 4x4 is UK-approved, expect a launch date in early 2005. Company sources hint at a starting price just under £30k.

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