NISSAN'S second generation Murano goes on sale here tomorrow promising a luxury 4x4 that's quicker, more economical, sportier, more refined to drive and boasts a contemporary interior.

Although the new Murano looks very familiar, Nissan says that every body panel is new with distinctive elements including the pronounced wheel arches, which are linked by similarly profiled sections at the bottom of each door.

Side windows now taper more sharply into the roof line and a shallower headlamp profile blends into the new chrome-effect grille.

The redesigned tail includes triangular LED tail lights and a reprofiled tailgate.

The Murano's new interior features the use of soft touch materials and upholstery trimmed in charcoal or beige leather, double stitched for added exclusivity.

This is enahnced ambient mood lighting.

Its rear seats split 60/40 and are lowered by pulling a lever in the luggage area, raising them via a button.

Convenience continues with a power-operated tailgate which can be opened and closed by remote control via a button on the key fob, dashboard or tailgate itself.

The Murano comes in just two equipment-packed models distinguished from each other by a choice of a sunlight-friendly, large two-part sunroof, or family-friendly, roof-mounted DVD.

All versions come with 18in alloys, Birdview DVD satellite navigation with TMC, rear privacy glass, bi-xenon headlamps, cruise control, an in-dash six-disc CD player Bose audio system with aux-in socket for MP3 players and climate control air conditioning.

The original Nissan 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 12mph it displays images of the ground beside the car on the seven-inch colour satnav screen, showing the proximity of walls, kerbs and other obscured obstacles. Like the rear-view parking camera, it uses infrared LED lighting to enable it to function at night. Nissan's familiar VQ 24-valve twin-cam 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine has been 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 that power goes up by 22bhp at 256bhp.

This sees 62mph arrive in eight seconds while top speed rises from 124 to 130mph. Fuel consumption improves from 23 to 25.9mpg combined, also reflected in carbon dioxide emissions that drop from 295 to 261g/km.

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 are promised more responsive handling combined with improved levels of comfort.

A speed- sensitive power steering system improves ease of driving at low speeds and gives a more direct feel at higher speeds.

Finally, "All-Mode" 4x4-i technology 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 new Murano is priced at £32,795 for the version with large two-part sunroof and £33,295 with roof-mounted DVD.