Four a.m. on a Monday is an in-between time. The debauched have ended the weekend passed out on somebody’s sofa, their hangovers still hours away; the obsessively healthy sleep on, yet to rise and don running shoes and Lycra.
The city is a lonely wasteland, lit by the orange glow of sodium arc lamps. I’m alone out here apart from the odd idling taxicab, a city works truck or two, and a single bakery van. And, one presumes, Batman.
Roaming around your hometown by yourself in the wee hours is a highly recommended activity if you’d like to rediscover the place. All you need do is set your alarm early enough and find yourself a comfortable seat from which to watch the show. Here’s mine for this morning – the 2015 Nissan Murano.
The Murano is named after a small chain of islands off the coast of Venice, fabled as the home of artisan glassblowers. Well, not fabled exactly: they’re all there because long-ago folks were worried the craftspeople would burn the entire city to the ground if they got the hiccups or something.
The original crossover was a sort of duckbilled dumpling, all rotund curves and a chrome-laden grille. If you’ve got very young kids it might remind you of the character Quack from Peep and the Big Wide World. Except with wheels.
This new version looks a bit like someone held the Add Stuffing button down a little too long at the BMW i8 factory. Actually, I think it looks great, especially in this Platinum trim with 20-inch wheels to balance out all that crazily contorted sheet metal. The Nissan badge on the nose is big enough to count as a Texas belt-buckle, but you could quite easily have fitted a premium-brand tag here instead; the Murano’s wild design isn’t for everyone, but it’s certainly no wallflower.
Frankly, Nissan has done a great job pushing this thing forward as the theoretical halo carrier for the brand. Oh yes, there’s the GT-R too, but that’s something else entirely. The Murano, and especially this Platinum-grade version, firmly occupies the shaded space of the overlapping Venn diagram between Nissan and Infiniti. If the question is “Why spend more?”, I’m having a tough time finding an answer.
The be-winged headlights and layered strawberry shortcake taillights are both festooned with LEDs, and the strong front shoulder line gives the new Murano a muscular presence. Mark my words – that floating rear roof is about to become the design element du jour, already showing up in everything from Mazda’s little CX-3 to BMW’s plug-in hybrid sports car.