INFINITI FX SUV REVIEW
|FX37 3.5 petrol||$83,900+||235kW/360Nm||7 auto||12.1 l/100km|
|FX30d 3.0 diesel||$85,900+||175kW/550Nm||7 auto||9.0 l/100km|
|FX50S Premium||$114,900||287kW/500Nm||7 auto||13.1 l/100km|
It’s got the biggest snout in the business, a wide, wide stance, truncated tail, pumped guards and fat wheels at each corner – for style and presence, Infiniti has nailed it with the new FX SUV range.
And, whichever model you choose - V6 petrol or diesel, or the top-spec FX50S V8 - they may be high-striding SUVs, but each is also a genuinely sharp sporting drive.
Introduced simultaneously with the M sedan, Infiniti’s FX offers a choice of three potent engines, athletic on-road dynamics and the sumptuous interior and similar fastidious attention to detail of the M sedan range.
But where the M sedans are rear-wheel drive only, the FX puts all four wheels to work. And while it misses a hybrid for now, it can offer a rock-crushing V8 under that patrician nose.
Yes, it may be the older car of Infiniti’s new two model Australian range, but the FX is the tastier and more intriguing.
Like the M sedan range, the three Infiniti FX models – the FX37, FX30d and FX50S - are ridiculously well-appointed.
The FXs we drove missed on the Rickenbacker-style wood surfaces (you can specify ‘maple wood’), and the marriage of lines of the interior lacks the cohesion of the newer M sedans, but this too is a cosseting and inviting place to spend some time.
Like its M stablemates, Infiniti’s FX range can size up its competitors from Lexus, Audi or BMW for the crafting of the interior, the quality of trim materials, luxury feel and attention to detail.
The FX models get a smaller steering wheel than the M sedans with a more sporting feel (and a faster rack). Besides soft leathers and flawless stitching, piano black, brushed alloy, subtle chrome highlights, and beautifully crafted switchgear distinguishes this cabin from lesser environs.
Also like the M sedans, standard to the FX range is the same keyless entry functions with system-settings memory for audio, climate control, seat and steering wheel settings; active noise control; rear view camera and monitor, active steer and rear-wheel steer; cruise control with distance control assist; lane departure warning and lane departure prevention (the latter only in up-spec models).
There's also air-con and climate control (with Infiniti's 'forest air' system), Bluetooth and audio streaming, satellite navigation and superb Bose audio system.
To this it can add all-wheel drive over the sedan range's rear-wheel drive and also add a power-operated tailgate.
The seats are well-shaped, beautifully stitched and supremely comfortable. Only the extruded door mouldings of the FX models - which are 'squared-off' and bulkier than those in the M sedans - don't quite match the premium feel of the rest of the interior.
These are, however, beautifully built cars: it's evident in the small touches like the feel of the door handles (both interior and exterior); in the accuracy of the panel gaps, and in the flawless chrome moulding rimming the glasshouse.
Rear seat passengers get surprisingly good leg and foot-room courtesy of the long wheelbase with wheels pushed to the corners. Headroom is also good.
The boot beneath the duck-tailed hatch, offering 410 litres of cargo space, is adequate rather than generous, but the rear seats fold (opening up 1305 litres) and there’s a port in the rear seat for longer items like skis.
The glovebox and storage bin in the centre console are a good size (big enough to keep an SLR camera out of sight, and there are ample cup and bottle holders.
On The Road
The FX’s powerful snout sits over three robust powertrains. The DOHC 3.7 litre V6 petrol in the FX37 puts out a goodly 235kW @ 7000rpm, and 360Nm @ 5200rpm.
Move up a notch, and the FX30d 3.0 litre diesel DOHC V6 puts 175kW @ 3750rpm and 550Nm @ 1750rpm under the toe.
Top dog is the powerhouse FX50S Premium; under its bonnet lurks a 5.0 litre V8 with 287kW @ 6500rpm and 500Nm @ 4400rpm.
The V6 petrol and diesel models are swift and unstressed, each offering lively acceleration and on-road verve. But nail the FX50S to the firewall, and a ‘hand of God’ effortless wave of power simply lifts you up and flings you down the road.
Each is hooked up to an electronically controlled seven-speed driver-adaptive automatic with manual mode, and magnesium paddle shifts (and a plus-minus plane on the gear shift).
While offering well-spaced ratios and rev-matching on downshifts, we found gearchanges (in both FX and M models) slower than we might have expected from the seven-speed auto.
Even when in 'Sport' mode, unless flicking down early into a corner (like, really early), you’d end up with the gear you wanted on the wrong side of the apex.
It isn't an issue with the M range, but for a thumping sporting drive like the FX50 we'd prefer a more lively box. (The Lexus ISF shows how it should be done.)
But for sure-footedness when under the whip, the FX range has the softer Lexus RX stable whipped.
In Sport mode, which sharpens the steering and throttle response, and firms up things down below (and is borderline too firm for Australian secondary roads), this big, wide-striding SUV will hang on like a hot-hatch through a rapid series of bends.
Rear biased, the Infiniti SUVs will happily drive through the rear wheels only - like when powering along a country road - but its intelligent AWD will alter the drive dynamically depending upon what's happening at the wheels and in the balance of the car.
When surface conditions change, when cornering briskly or when slippage is detected, the intelligent AWD system apportions drive to retain traction and stability.
It's not designed to take you off road (though it will get you a little way), it's more for maximum grip and safety in marginal conditions - like on a dash to the snow.
In the FX30d and FX50S, it can also have all four wheels steering. For additional cornering balance or for rapid lane-change manoeuvres, the rear wheels will automatically steer counter to the front to sharpen the directional change.
It's not apparent at the wheel, even at higher speeds, and, not having had a kangaroo leap in front of us, we didn't get the opportunity to assess the additional balance and stability in an "oh crap, where did that come from" rapid lane change.
Of Infiniti's two model ranges, the hero car, in our estimation, is the FX50S.
It not only looks the goods on its fat 21-inch rims, it is brutishly quick. Infiniti claims a 0-100km/h time of 5.8 seconds. (Compared to the 6.8 seconds and 8.3 seconds for the V6 petrol and diesel respectively.)
As SUVs go, the FX50S is one very rapid luxury point-to-point tourer.
We'd like a bit more V8 bark (but we're rabbits), and, yes, a livelier transmission, but we think the FX50S will find a lot of favour with keen drivers.
And towing? With all those ergs underfoot, it feels like it could drag a Collins-class submarine up a loading ramp. (It’s rated at 2200kg for a braked trailer; that mid-life crisis 26-foot tinny you've got in the backyard won't be any trouble.)
It also has phenomenal brakes.
Fade free, and arrow true, they will effortlessly haul the hefty FX50S down from highway speeds time and time again.
First Drive Verdict
From the wheel, the FX models are distinctly more sporting in character and feel than the M sedans.
There is something very appealing about 'following' that large snout along the road and with the pronounced front wheel-arch bulges shrouding the field of view ahead.
As we commented in the review of the M range, these cars are not automotive white-goods.
The Infiniti FX has real character, and is laden with sporting verve, whichever model you choose. When you get a chance, look one over.
That’s not especially easy. Dealers are thin on the ground; unless you live in Brisbane or Sydney don’t go looking for an Infiniti showroom at the moment.
In Melbourne, you’ve got a month or two to wait; Adelaide and Perth will follow (but don’t hold your breath). As Infiniti Australia GM Kevin Snell said, “We’re on a four to five-year journey to establish our reputation.”
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The Infiniti FX range is on sale now, and pricing (excluding on-road costs) as follows:
- FX37 GT - $83,900
- FX37 S - $92,900
- FX37 S Premium - $95,900
- FX30d GT - $85,900
- FX30d S - $94,900
- FX30d S Premium - $97,900
- FX50 S Premium - $114,900
Prices exclude on-road costs.