By: IOL Motoring Staff

New York - Less than 24 months after the Nissan revealed the Resonance concept SUV at the North American International Auto Show, the production version is ready to go - and on display at the New York motor show.

The third-generation Murano, says Nissan design head Shiro Nakamura, was designed to emphasise the three characteristics that made the original Murano stand out from the usual chunky SUV styling - the V-shaped front treatment, signature lighting and its 'floating' roofline.

The boomerang-style headlights - originally introduced on the 370Z, were slimmed and stretched even more for the new Murano, which made them an engineering challenge to produce.

At the rear, the Murano is slightly lower, wider and longer than its predecessor; once again the strongly curved shape of the rear fenders was difficult to mass-produce but, together with the grille shutter, fender lip mouldings, rear bumper surfacing, rear tyre deflectors and integrated rear spoiler, Nissan is claiming a more than 16 percent improvement in aerodynamics.

The new Murano has a drag coefficient of 0.31 - although Nakamura admits it took three times the normal amount of wind-tunnel testing to get it right.

INTUITIVE CONTROLS

Inside, the instrument panel is lower than on the previous model, with a 200mm colour infotainment touch-screen centred at the top of a V-shaped centre stack. That's allowed the number of audio and navigation switches to be reduced from 25 to 10.

Nakamura explained: “We've learned from personal electronics that consumers aren't always looking for devices that do more, they just want it done better.

“People rarely read the directions for their smartphones, because they know intuitively how to operate them. We believe vehicles should behave the same way.”

Nissan's Nasa-inspired Zero Gravity seats are standard for front and rear outer occupants, while the all three rear seats are a three-cushion design, a first for Nissan vehicle.

The centre console has been made low and wide to create a 'communication alley' between front and rear occupants, and includes a compartment for rear occupants' smartphones, as well as a USB port for the rear seats.

NUTS AND BOLTS

The Murano's familiar 3.5-litre DOHC V6 and Xtronic constantly-variable transmission have been tweaked to deliver 192kW at 6000 revs and 326Nm at 4400rpm, and the new body is about 60kg lighter; Nissan claims a 20 percent reduction in fuel consumption.

Suspension is by MacPherson-type front struts and multi-link rear set-up, with disc brakes all round, running standard 18” or optional 20” alloy rims, and the new Murano will be available front-wheel or all-wheel drive format.

EXTRA EYES

The new Murano comes with up to four onboard cameras (front, rear, two side) and three radar systems (one front, two side) feeding a suite driver aids (some optional) including blind-spot warning, predictive forward collision warning, forward emergency braking, cross-traffic alert and around-view monitor with moving object detection.

Nissan SA has no confirmation yet as to when the new Murano will be released in South Africa, but says it will not be during 2014.