We’re just a few short hours away before the scheduled reveal of the new Infiniti QX80 at the Dubai Motor Show, but that’s not stopping Car and Driver from giving the rest of us a rather detailed peek at the new flagship SUV.
As previously mentioned, Infiniti - the posh arm of Japanese automaker Nissan - has a facelifted version of their V8-powered luxury 6-seater, made to better reflect the marque’s evolved design aesthetic. We expected a fresher face and some updated equipment to grace the cabin, perhaps even some tweaks to the its and refinement while they’re at it.
Though the latter of those changes are yet to be revealed as of this moment, we will know the extent of Infiniti’s layer of polish very soon, one that some say the QX80 was rather in need of to properly compete with the Lexus LX570 and newer additions into its habitat such as the Volvo XC90, Mercedes-Benz GL and second-generation Audi Q7. In North America, the Infiniti has an even larger list of rivals including the Cadillac Escalade and the Lincoln Navigator, respectively representing GM and Ford.
Of course, as with any facelift, the biggest change is visual. Infiniti have already previewed their direction for the QX80 with the Monograph concept earlier this year, and the updated model here is faithful-enough a recreation minus the oversized wheels, “piano key” style LED head lamps, lowered suspension, and a more liberal smattering of chrome.
There’s a completely revised front end - obviously - that softens the more polarising aspects of the second-generation version’s original fascia, notably elevating the headlamps closer to its shoulder line. Otherwise, from the midsection to its rear, this is very familiar territory for the big Infiniti - though there are a pair of new tail lights and a redesigned bumper to match the more subtle curves of the nipped-and-tucked face.
The QX80’s interior has been through some degree of change, but we’d be hard pressed to admit that it changes the overall experience in a very meaningful way. The wood trim catalogue is now expanded to include a dark charcoal veneer, which in these pictures pair with the gorgeous tan leather well enough.
Speaking of the upholstery, it’s now available with a more luxurious cross-stitch pattern that unfortunately does not extend to the third row seats. It all looks very comfortable, high quality, and appropriately expensive. However, the dated dash layout, small unergonomic infotainment screen, and scattering of buttons along the centre stack does take points off from the minimal and simultaneously more advanced suite offered by some newer rivals.
Judging by the size of that infotainment unit in relation to the size of the car itself, you might need long gorilla arms and the fingertip accuracy of a calligraphist to properly operate it safely and without frustration. Just eyeballing it we reckon it’s the same 7-inch unit used previously, and the fact that’s its inset only makes matters worse.
Until Infiniti gets around to introducing a completely new version of the QX80, though, there’s only so much that can be changed - or at least that’s the narrative they’ve ran with. That, however, also largely depends upon the timetable of parent company Nissan and their Patrol, the large SUV upon which the QX80 is based.
Car and Driver seems to confirm that the mechanical package of the QX80 has been left alone, meaning that a naturally aspirated 5.6-litre V8 (VK56VD) remains under the bonnet, producing its usual 300kW and 560Nm. Drive is spread through its permanent all-wheel drive system after being funnelled through a 7-speed automatic.