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A beauty Murano is not

Beauty they say, is subjective. It lies in the eyes of the beholder and I agree with about 70 per cent of that statement. People like whoever they like and think they’re the most beautiful human ever. But, 30 per cent of me also understands that there is such a thing as absolute beauty.

The kind of beauty that would make you risk a happy home and good social standing and money for the kids school fees. Sometimes you can catch men nodding to each other in appreciation of such beauty.

But, if there exists such a thing as absolute beauty, then by the law of duality, there must exist absolutely unpleasant and unsightly aesthetics. Focusing squarely on cars, as this is a motoring page after all, there exist many automobiles, past and present that beg the question, really?

Sometimes you see a car and wonder how everyone in a car company, from the idiot artist who first sketched the design, to his wife who he first showed it to, to the guy who modelled it in 3D and the guys who sculpted the first clay models. To the suits from management who saw it and thought it was exactly what they needed and approved it for production. All of them thought the Murano was good looking?

I have walked around the Murano attentively and I’ve seen infected wounds that look better. When the first model first came out in 2003 I thought, “God that’s ghastly. Nobody will buy one and soon enough Nissan will realise their mistake and kill it off!” And I was right, in 2011 it was pulled out of the UK market after disappointing sales and the main market remains the US, where it was first conceived and is still made.

Apart from the 18 inch, six spoke alloys, which have to be round, the rest of the car still looks like plasticine clay after being manhandled by kindergarten children. I’m a bit conservative in my appreciation of design, preferring straight lines and circular shapes for my cars, so I asked my more stylish friends what they thought.

None of them technically said it was beautiful. Instead they used words like unique, distinctive and bold. More interestingly, none of them thought it was ugly. And all of them said they would have one if they had money left after buying clothes. Oddly enough, it had skipped my mind that I was supposed to drive one until it was suggested to me.

Right. The natural rival based on looks, price and performance would be the Maxda CX-7, but the Nissan blasts past the plain Jane Mazda to rival the Lexus RX350 in refinement. To that end it’s got a really comfortable cabin with all the bells and whistles. Keyless entry/push button start, back-up camera and a thundering six-speaker stereo to boot. Standard safety features include vehicle dynamic control, traction control, brake assist and front side and side curtain airbags.

Aluminium trim for your eyes and absurdly comfortable seats for your bum makes progress a plush decadent affair. It’s built on the Nissan-D platform, essentially meant for saloon cars like the Nissan Teana, and, therefore, shifts weight predictably in the bends. Unlike conventional SUVs, which feel like they will tip over every time you turn the steering wheel.

One shouldn’t really complain that a luxury car is too comfortable, so I won’t but it’s worth noting that even Michelin star restaurants have pepper and salt. Nissan should have given us a bit more spice in the acceleration bit, which feels too subdued and linear.

In the US, it’s sold with a 3.5 litre V6, but never in my one hour test drive did I feel the 2.5 litre unit available in the used Japanese model was insufficient at hauling the two tonnes of metal. If I will be completely honest, the car started growing on me and Sh2 million bob seems fair for this level of luxury and reliability.

It made complete sense until the moment I stepped out, and as one would normally do, looked at it. I’ve lost the initial shock of seeing the thing and the interior and driving dynamics make a strong case for it, but I won’t!

It looks too busy, like it’s trying too hard to stand out. You will definitely notice it because it’s different and if you get in it you will definitely like it, but like girls who over apply make-up, it’s simply a bit too much.

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