They call the Nissan Murano a crossover, and you can feel that when you first sit in the car. You note the higher driving position of an SUV, which is a good safety factor. It also makes you feel a bit regal, looking down into other cars. But with the sophisticated, car-like interior and the smoothness of the handling, within a few miles you may forget you are in an SUV.
My first impression was of the creamy leather upholstery and the modern fascia and instrument cluster. The instruments are stunningly clear.
Out on the country highway I began to enjoy the handling, but noted there were no shifting paddles on the steering wheel. For paddles you must test the 3.5L model. So, I stayed with Automatic all the way instead of Manual shifting.
In such a sporty and spectacular vehicle, I considered a run up the Road to Nowhere as suitable.
The mini-highway, complete with white lines, runs three kilometers into the woods and ends in an unused parking lot. Mysterious.
This time I stayed in Automatic and used the kickdown to send us rocketing up the hills, braking sharply for the tight, blind bends. After a turn in the empty car park, we sailed downhill, faster now despite the wet patches, relying on All- Mode 4x4-i all-wheel drive system to keep us safe.
I was pleased at the power from the 2.5-liter engine, which promises 170 horsepower at 5,600 rpm, and 25 kgm of torque at 3,900 rpm.
That power is sent to the road via an XTRONIC CVT transmission, offering smoother shifts and reduced fuel consumption.
The Murano has an unusual history. It was designed by Nissan Europe, for the European market and was a best- seller. In the United States it was, again, very popular. At last, the Murano arrived in Hong Kong, where it has been selling steadily.
In the 2012 version, most noticeable is the newly formed and much bolder front bumper section.
Another unique feature is rear seats that drop forward at the touch of a button for more cargo space. Another button brings the seats back upright. Handy!
Motoring editor Roger Boschman has been in Hong Kong since 1974 and has raced his own car on Macau's Guia Circuit.