2013 INFINITI FX50 REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Large Premium SUV
Price: $125,255 (plus on-roads)
Fuel Economy claimed: 13.1 l/100km | tested: 15.8 l/100km
Infiniti labels its domineering FX SUV a “performance crossover” and, yes, on both counts, the FX50S delivers.
With a BMW X6-like bearing mixed with 1930s Bugatti styling cues and a mighty 5.0 litre V8, this Japanese contender can be fired down any road at improbable speeds.
And with five people aboard in luxurious comfort.
Infiniti is the new kid on the block, returning after its lukewarm Q45 in the 90s. If anything, it has a tougher job to get itself noticed than it did back then.
But Infiniti - with cars like this - is clearly not mucking around. It’s gunning for the Germans, and, this time, doing it properly.
Quality: The Infiniti’s interior is at once individual but familiar. The leather is of a very high standard, soft and supple, and the quilted stitching on the seatbacks is a very nice touch.
Most of the plastics are soft-touch and feel good but the occasional item jars. The steering-wheel boss feels like it could have come from a Micra and the external door handles feel cheap.
A stand-out feature is the pair of beautiful Maserati-like magnesium gearshift paddles - the edges are wrapped in leather, just where your fingertips brush them.
They’re also fitted to the column rather than the wheel, so are fixed in place to prevent confusion in corners.
Comfort: The front seats are generously-sized with adjustable bolsters as well as inflatable wings on the seat squab for under-thigh support.
The rear seats are deep and soft, offering almost limo-like comfort, but for the lack of leg and knee-room. The 60/40 split rear backrest can also be reclined.
Equipment: The standard equipment list is as long as most of your limbs strung together (should you ever detach them).
The FX50S comes standard with the $12,000 Premium Pack available on the FX37 and FX30d.
Highlights from the base spec include adaptive bi-xenon lights, keyless entry and start, sunroof, hard disk navigation and music storage and an 11-speaker Bose sound system.
The Premium package adds continuous damping with sport mode, rear ‘active steer’, 14-way electric seats adjustment, 21-inch wheels fitted with 265/45 tyres, chrome body accents, around-view monitor with distance sensors, forward collision-warning, brake assist, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and prevention and low-speed following.
Storage: The cabin is tight, but there is room for a modestly-sized bin in the central console as well as pair of lidded coin-holders.
The front seats have very slim pockets on the back for rear seat passengers, who also get a small locker in the central armrest and shallow bins in the doors.
The central console also has the USB connection and 12-volt power adapter hidden inside.
The boot holds a decidedly modest 410 litres, a long way behind even the swoopy X6’s 570 litres. By contrast, a lowly SUV like a Honda CR-V holds 556 litres in a much smaller package.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: The 287kW quad-cam V8 VVEL engine can hurl the two-tonne FX50 to 100km/h in 5.8 seconds. That’s almost three seconds faster than the 30d and over a second faster than the petrol V6 FX37.
Underfoot, it has the torque of the diesel, but the free-spinning character of the V6.
The throttle needs a little forward planning, however, as the seven-speed transmission and that snorting V8 can take a while to wake up to a floored pedal while they get themselves organised.
But once the tachometer passes through 3500rpm, it suddenly hammers to the redline. Overtaking? Wham, and you’re outta there.
Power is initially sent to the rear wheels, giving it a fantastic rear-wheel drive feel. But, if its slippery underfoot (or in tight bends), power is shared with the front wheels.
There is a slight change in feel as the transition occurs, but with the front wheels also at work and the combo of four-wheel steer and continuously adaptive damping, the FX50S can really sling out of a corner.
Not only that, with all that technology ‘watching’ over things, mid-corner bumps and dips pose no problems.
For such a big, heavy car, it’s remarkably easy to place into a corner. It’s not the best in the field - there are German badges involved there - but it’s pretty good.
Refinement: The V8 engine is smooth and sounds great from inside the cabin. It makes its presence felt with a reassuring burble at idle, a throaty roar at full power and a quiet thrum when cruising.
The cabin is otherwise incredibly quiet and the seven-speed transmission, when in normal mode, mostly slurs between gears imperceptibly.
Suspension: The continuous damping reads the road and adjusts the stiffness of the shocks accordingly.
It’s not quite as impressive as some other systems we’ve experienced and there’s sometimes an odd extra bounce over a speed bump, but you’d never know you were rolling on gigantic 21-inch wheels.
Braking: The huge brakes are clamped with four-piston calipers and are incredibly effective. The pedal is a joy to use and nicely progressive, with a not-too-soft initial bite and only needs a little more to really wash off speed.
ANCAP rating: 5 stars
Safety features: ABS, brake force distribution, brake assist, vehicle stability control, dual front and side airbags, full length curtain airbags, speed limiter, active front head-restraints with adjustable rear restraints, height-adjustable front seatbelts, tyre pressure monitoring,
The around view monitor uses the front and rear parking cameras as well as cameras in each wing mirror to give a top down view of what’s around the car. It takes some getting used to, but helps ameliorate the poor view out of the cabin.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Four years or 80,000km
Service costs: Infiniti offers capped-price servicing for the duration of the warranty. Dubbed Infiniti Service Assure, the prices are published and indicate the maximum amount payable at each scheduled six month/10,000km service.
Costs and charges for the FX50 ranges from $372 to $749 per service, adding up to $4081 over eight services.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
BMW X6 xDrive 50i ($129,723) - The BMW X6 might divide over its looks, but there’s no arguing its pedigree or ability. The twin-turbo V8 will certainly move you as quickly as the FX50, but costs more and the Infiniti has the longer equipment list.
It is, however, the benchmark, and a known quantity compared to the new-to-Australia FX (see X6 reviews)
Again, it’s much more expensive courtesy of a supercharged V8 engine and is more costly to run and own. (see RR Sport reviews)
Mercedes-Benz ML 500 ($119,900) - Substantially larger than the Infiniti and more practical, the Merc is less expensive than the Infiniti and certainly less-confronting visually.
Like the Range Rover, it will actually work off-road. But you’ll have to select a large number of options to match the Infiniti’s spec. (see ML reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The big FX is Infiniti’s most recognisable car and perhaps the one (thus far) with the greatest distance - visually - from its Nissan parent.
And when more than $125k is the asking, that latter point is important.
On the street, the FX50S certainly captures attention - this one has come from a different sausage factory. Sure, the price is something of a hurdle, but you get a lot more for your money than just individual styling.
The FX50S is fast, comfortable and exclusive - not to consider one is to miss out.
For comparative value-for-money and quality, and also for a thumping drive, we think the Infiniti is one for your list.
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