We should have known better, but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to believe the rumors. For over two years now, we’ve heard whispers of Nissan’s plan to introduce a convertible version of its Murano crossover, but the idea seemed so far-fetched that we just couldn’t wrap our gray matter around it. We managed to fall sleep at night by dismissing the notion as yet another silly bit of industry rumor-mongering, the sort of fodder serially dished out by British auto weeklies that splash absurd future product predictions on their covers (generally accompanied by fanciful artist’s renderings) to sell more paper at the newsstand.
We doubted it, but we should have known better. Nissan has shown real design bravery lately, as well as an unquenchable desire to fill any and all white space in its portfolio. Remember, it was Nissan’s product planners who conceived of a car designed exclusively with a T-square, throwing in a bit of asymmetrical glass and a patch of fake grass atop the dashboard – just in case anyone thought the resulting box was too boring. The automaker then announced that it was making a big bet on a brilliant but funny-looking $33,000 five-dooronly capable of driving 100 miles before having to have its e-umbilical cord reattached. It followed this up with a tiny yet oddly lovable space-age hatchback-crossovery thing wearing a Kabuki mask. In retrospect, we shouldn’t be questioning Nissan’s wisdom in lopping the top off its mid-size crossover to create a ragtop – we should be wondering what’s taken it so long.
As we stand around looking at the CrossCabriolet at its sun-drenched San Diego launch, we can’t help but be confounded. By all rights, the CrossCabriolet ought to look like a SEMA refugee. You know the type: four doors, shadetree roofectomy by Sawzall, a frumpy and ill-fitting top and a targa bar straddling the passenger compartment to keep the whole thing from collapsing in on itself. Amazingly, in person, the Murano convertible doesn’t look anything like this. Nissan has clearly expended a surprisingly large amount of styling and engineering resources on the project, and the resulting vehicle looks more cohesive than it has any right to.