Nov 10 2008 Mike Torpey
Murano earns its stripes
'WHATEVER you do, don't gouge the thing,' was the succinct message ringing in my ears as I wielded a heavy duty wire brush above the gleaming white paintwork.
Oops! A heavy-handed moment later and a dozen nasty looking stripes have made the side of a £33,000 Nissan Murano look like it has just had an argument with a section of corrugated iron.
There's a remedy though, and it's one that really puts Nissan's 'touch of magic' boast to the test.
You grab a kettle of freshly boiled water, pour over the affected area and wipe off the moisture with a soft cloth.
The result? The scratches have vanished completely; not even a hint of abrasion.
It's all down to the arrival of Scratch Seal paint, which is mixed with highly elastic resin to increase flexibility and strength.
The boiling water treatment may work instantly, but it's not a necessity. Over a period of several days after the paint is scored the resin will 'heal' itself and return to its original form.
At present, the 2009 Murano luxury 4x4 is the only car coated in the smart paint job, though Nissan intends to extend it to other upmarket models like the new Infiniti sooner rather than later.
Pampering its owners is clearly a priority for Nissan with the latest Murano, a business class offering aimed at customers who want a mixture of luxury saloon and spacious SUV.
They will certainly enjoy the soundtrack delivered by a BOSE audio system with 10-channel amp via 11 carefully positioned speakers - including a pair of woofers mounted in the spare wheel well.
And while the original Murano helped pioneer rear view cameras, the new model goes a step further with a kerb camera mounted within the passenger door mirror.
At speeds up to 12mph it displays images of the ground beside the car on the seven-inch colour sat nav screen, showing the likes of walls and kerbs and otherwise obscured obstacles.
Like the rear-view parking camera, it uses infrared LED lighting to enable it to function at night too.
A top notch standard spec means that the only extra-cost option is metallic paint. Otherwise the range consists of two equipment-packed models distinguished by the choice of either a large two-part sunroof or roof-mounted DVD.
Nissan's familiar 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine has been revised and uprated to produce an extra 22bhp at 256bhp and the Murano now features a re-engineered CVT gearbox with a 20 per cent reduction in friction to improve fuel economy, and shift speeds to give a more responsive feel.
That said, it remains an expensive model to run, has high emissions of 261g/km and will only return around 25 miles per gallon.
There are cars that drive better than the Murano and have more punch, but the design, equipment and technology Nissan have injected into this model will ensure it retains a niche within the motoring elite.