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Malcolm Flynn | Jun 12, 2012 | 3 Comments

2012 INFINITI FX37 AND FX50 PREVIEW DRIVE

Vehicle type: Large Luxury SUV
Price: TBA – launching in August
Power: 235kW V6 | 287kW V8
Torque: 360Nm V6 | 500Nm V8
Fuel Consumption: 12.1 l/100km V6 | 13.1 l/100km V8 (NEDC combined)

 

OVERVIEW

We drove the Infiniti M35h at the Japanese carmaker’s media ‘sneak peak’ in New Zealand, and we were impressed.

We’ve also had opportunity to sample two of its three new luxo-SUV warriors, the 3.7 litre petrol V6 FX37 and the 5.0 litre petrol V8 FX50.

The third - the 3.0 litre V6 turbodiesel FX30d - will be available when the Australian range launches later this year.

As with the M35h, the FXs were UK-spec vehicles showing miles-per-hour and minor ADR-specific detail differences to the final Australian models.

The FX’s overall size and bodystyle is similar to the BMW X6’s SUV-coupe style, but the basic design of the FX dates back to the 2003 introduction of the model name in the US. The X6 reached the market in 2008, so be clear which one was first!

Although faintly reminiscent of Nissan’s Murano, the FX (like the M) is based on the longitudinal-engined Nissan FM platform - unlike the Murano, which uses the transverse-engined Nissan D platform.

The FM platform’s front-midship engine layout also gives the FX a unique long-bonnet proportion, which, combined with the swooping roofline, gives the FX a unique and quite seductive side profile.

Pricing details remain under wraps, so until then it will be difficult to identify the FX range’s near rivals.

 

Interior

The current-generation FX range has been in other markets since 2008, and it’s in the interior where this relative vintage shows through most.

The swooping style of the dashboard is reminiscent of the M range. But the M35h, with its smart sunburst colour tones, has a more modern look than the dark plastic surfaces of the four FX’s we had on test.

Nonetheless, material quality is impressive throughout.

The sloping roofline comes at the expense of visibility and rear seat headroom (for taller occupants), though both were fine for this 174cm correspondent.

That roofline, with broad D-pillars and a shallow rear window, forces reliance on the reverse camera.

Equipment levels of these UK models tested matched the M35h for a long and lavish list, though the FX’s tested lacked the power retractable seatbelt and ‘Forest Air’ features.

The cargo floor is usefully long, but the sloping profile restricts seats-up volume to just 410 litres.

 

On The Road

Out on the road, both FX37 and FX50 shone for the driver involvement they provide at the wheel, and taut body control.

Despite the SUV’s higher centre of gravity, the FX and M’s 370Z-related underpinnings are more obvious in the FX, giving a wide track, low profile look to its on-road stance.

Both FX37 and FX50 were equipped with dual-mode dampers which delivered a sporting yet comfortable ride, even when in normal mode.

Sport mode was free of the expected harshness, though the roads on the test loop were of a high quality.

Steering feel, surprisingly, was a step up from the M35h, despite using wider and far larger 21-inch tyres. This improvement could largely be attributed to the FX’s use of hydraulic steering assistance, unlike the M35h’s electro-hydraulic system.

Like the M sedan, the transmission selector is a short, stubby unit, which slides through its detents with a quality, organ-stop feel. The transmission is the same 7-speed auto found in the 370Z.

This transmission is proof that there is plenty of life left in the old torque converter set-up, delivering crisp and intuitive shifting, with automatic rev-matched downshifts under heavy braking.

Both versions of the FX tip the scales at just over two tonnes (as tested), meaning useful performance even from the 235kW FX37.

Infiniti UK claims 0-100 in 6.8 seconds for the FX37, which drops to 5.8 seconds in the 287kW FX50.

2012 infiniti fx uk market 10

These figures stood both models in good stead on the hilly roads we experienced, and saw overtaking manoeuvres dispatched with confidence.

While the muted V8 growl of the FX50 is a little tame, and low-down torque is not as evident as we expected, the extra performance of the FX50 engine is welcome. It’s likely to be a good bit dearer than the V6, and drink a little more fuel, but it’s a pretty appealing steer.

For fuel figures, our test was too limited to be of any guide - we’ll need to wait on Australian testing of Aussie spec cars (Euro figures are 12.1 l/100km and 13.1 l/100km for the V6 and V8 respectively).

 

First Drive Verdict

Given that we are yet to sample the FX range on local roads and in their final specification, it’s too early to deliver a verdict just yet.

TMR will bring you a more detailed and definitive appraisal of the entire Infiniti FX range after the brand’s August launch.

Until then, the FX37 and FX50 as tested impressed with their unique styling and comfort. We also came away with a very favourable impression of the on-road dynamics and performance of both V8 and V6 models.

Build quality of the FX range is also high and in line with the high standard of the M35h tested. If Infiniti gets its pricing right, the FX will likely make a mark when it hits Australian Infiniti showrooms in two or three months time. We’re looking forward to a closer look.

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