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First Oz Look: Murano a classy Nissan

Affordable luxury: The Murano will be priced well under the Lexus RX330 and Honda MDX.

Nissan's Murano is 12 months away from taking on the luxury SUV market

2 Mar 2004

THE new Murano cross-over has made its Australian debut at the Melbourne motor show, about 12 months before it goes on sale here at the end of the first quarter of 2005.

Though officially only “under consideration” for sale Down Under, Murano is currently undergoing Australian Design Rule certification following its availability in right-hand drive guise. Nissan showed a left-hand drive version at Melbourne.

Murano will be Nissan’s first luxury SUV sold in Australia and biggest news from outgoing Nissan Australia managing director and chief executive officer Leon Daphne is that it will be priced “very competitively, between $50,000 and $60,000”.

That pricing range would give Murano a price advantage of at least $10,000 over luxury off-roaders like the popular Lexus RX330, Honda’s MDX, Volkswagen’s Touareg, Volvo’s XC90 and the forthcoming BMW X3.

Murano is motivated by a variation of the 3.5-litre DOHC V6 engine family that powers Maxima and 350Z, and also features all-independent suspension and a new all-wheel drive system.

“The all-new Murano is one more example of Nissan’s ability to design, engineer and manufacture attractive and bold new products and we are keen to add it to our shopping list,” said Mr Daphne.

“If approved for sale in the Australian market, the Murano cross-over will provide the link between Nissan’s all-star passenger vehicles and legendary four-wheel drive family.”

12 center imageMr Daphne said the five-seater Murano’s price and performance would prove to be advantages over its most direct rivals, and hoped it could sell in numbers between 200 and 250 per month.

Nissan believes Murano, which is already on sale in North America, will provide valuable sales, profit and image-building advantages for Nissan Australia, but Mr Daphne was emphatic that it would not replace Nissan’s mid-sized SUV staple, Pathfinder.

He indicated that model would be replaced not by the full-sized Armada that recently went on sale in the US, but by a smaller version (also with seven seats) similar to the Dunehawk concept revealed at the 2003 Frankfurt motor show.

The Murano name comes from the sculpted glass art that hails comes from islands near Venice. Murano glass is considered a leader in both cutting edge design and glass making technologies.

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