Hot on the heels of the Qashqai+2 comes the striking all-new Nissan Murano, the second generation of a model that was key to establishing the entire crossover genre. Even more generously equipped than its predecessor, the latest Murano is priced from £32,795.

Murano will continue to appeal to customers who appreciate the fusion of the dynamic driving characteristics of a luxury saloon and the security, space and desirability of an SUV. But it is now quicker, more economical to run, sportier yet more refined to drive, and boasts a sumptuous, contemporary interior clad in a more elegant, all-new exterior.

Once again options are restricted to metallic paint, thanks to an extensive standard specification. A very simple range consists of two equipment-packed models distinguished from each other by a choice of a sunlight-friendly large two-part sunroof, priced at £32,795 or family-friendly roof-mounted DVD, for £33,295.

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All Murano customers enjoy a specification that includes 18 inch alloys, Birdview DVD satellite navigation with TMC, rear privacy glass, bi-xenon headlamps, cruise control and an in-dash six-disc CD player with aux-in socket for MP3 players. There's the convenience of Nissan's Intelligent Key for easy keyless-access and once seated, front seat occupants can find the ideal position thanks to powered front seats and steering wheel complete with memory setting.

They'll also enjoy the rich audio experience delivered by a premium Bose audio system with 10-channel amp via 11 carefully positioned speakers, including a pair of Richbass woofers mounted in the spare wheel well.

The original Murano helped pioneer rear view cameras and the new model goes one step further with a kerb camera mounted within the passenger door mirror. At speeds up to 12 mph it displays images of the ground beside the car on the 7 inch colour sat nav screen, showing the proximity of walls, kerbs and otherwise obscured obstacles. Like the rear-view parking camera, it uses infrared LED lighting to enable it to function at night.

Murano's new interior is an altogether more cosseting experience with abundant use of high quality, soft touch materials and upholstery trimmed in charcoal or beige leather, double stitched for added exclusivity. Together with aluminium detailing and subtle ambient mood lighting, the cabin is now more luxury saloon than sporting SUV.

The climate control air conditioning has been enhanced with a mild flow vent which dissipates air around the cabin rather than directly at occupants.

Rear seats split 60/40 and are lowered simply by pulling a lever in the luggage area; but raising them is even easier; press a button on the dashboard or in the cargo area and the seats automatically move into position in just 8 seconds.

And the convenience continues with a power operated tailgate which can be opened and closed by remote control in 7.0 secs and 9.0 seconds respectively, via a button on the key fob, dashboard or tailgate itself.

The original Murano still turns heads and not surprisingly the new model's styling moves in an evolutionary direction to create a more curvaceous interpretation of that elegant, purposeful design. Every body panel is new and distinctive elements include pronounced wheel arches linked by similarly profiled sections at the bottom of each door for an added touch of ruggedness, side windows that taper more sharply into the roof line and a shallower headlamp profile that blends seamlessly into the new chrome-effect grille. The redesigned tail includes triangular LED tail lights and a reprofiled tailgate.

A choice of seven exterior shades includes three metallic colours that are new: Platinum Graphite, Tinted Bronze and Dark Sapphire.

The Murano has the performance to match its sporty looks. Nissan's familiar VQ 24-valve twin cam 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine has been radically revised and now features variable induction and continuous valve timing control systems. Combined with lots of detail changes to reduce friction and enhance refinement, the end result is power up by 22 PS at 256 PS and torque boosted from 318 at 3600 to 334 Nm at 4400 rpm.

0.9 seconds is shaved off the 0 to 62 mph benchmark – now 8.0 seconds – and top speed rises from 124 to 130 mph. Best of all, fuel consumption improves from 23.0 to 25.9 mpg combined, also reflected in carbon dioxide emissions that drop from 295 to 261 g/km.

An extensively re-engineered Xtronic CVT gearbox plays its part, with a 20 per cent reduction in friction improving fuel economy and shift speeds to give a more responsive feel.

A key contributor to the Murano's premium driving feel is a stiffer, all-new platform that is more resistant to lateral and twisting forces. Together with tweaks to the geometry of the new multi-link rear suspension and revised front strut suspension, owners will enjoy even more responsive handling combined with improved levels of comfort. Speed sensitive power steering system now improves ease of driving at low speeds and gives a more direct feel at higher speeds.

Finally, ALL-MODE 4x4-i technology continues to provide sure-footed handling no matter how treacherous the conditions. This intelligent permanent 4WD system distributes torque on demand to where it's needed – under normal driving conditions that means predominantly to the front wheels, but up to 50 per cent can be sent to the rear if required. The system is closely integrated with the standard ESP stability control.