Heads turn wherever you go in an Infiniti FX. New to Australia, this high-performance luxury crossover has been drawing crowds in Europe and North America and, after two weeks in a couple of versions we reckon it has the ‘steak’ to go with the ‘sizzle’.
And sports fans will be hearing a lot more from Infiniti this year as Nissan’s luxury brand ramped-up its involvement with the Red Bull F1 team headed by Aussie Mark Webber. As Webber’s Austrian team-mate Sebastian Vettel defends his World Championship, the team is now called the Red Bull Infiniti F1 team.
It’s that sporting theme which separates Infiniti from its rival brand Lexus. Sure Lexus has flexed its muscles with the LFA Supercar and expanded F Sport range, but Infiniti has eyes on increased sales in Europe (in fact Australian launch coincided with Sweden) and is doing so with an unabashed high-performance theme across its range.
Infiniti FX Overview
We fell in love with the Infiniti FX when we drove the $114,900 range-topping FX50 V8 at the media launch, but now we’ve spent two weeks in a couple of the more budget-priced models – the FX37 V6 petrol (prices from $83,900 to $95,900) and the V6 turbo diesel FX30d (prices from $85,900 to $94,900).
The entire Infiniti FX lineup is all-wheel-drive via a seven-speed automatic transmission and all models are bursting with high-tech and luxury inclusions. Infiniti has its origins in North America so the FX differs from many rivals with its large seats and massive interior dimensions – all contained in an overall length of 4865mm and height of 1680mm (far from the largest in this segment and a direct result of smart design).
And despite the glamour, towing capacity is impressive - ranging from 2,000 kgs to 2,200kgs.
But with the Infiniti FX, the major talking point has been and remains the looks – those evocative curved front fenders, similarly curved rear-end and athletic on-road stance adding up to one of the standout crossovers of the current era. Recluses and shrinking violets need not apply – we opened our front door one day and a dog-walker had invited himself into our front yard to check-out the FX at close quarters…not even the BMW X6M50d got that sort of attention when we had it.
Infiniti FX Engine
Infiniti FX37 models score the 3.7-litre V6 petrol powerplant also used in the slick M sedan however tune is specific to the FX and the exhaust note highlights its sporty intent. Maximum power is 235kW at 7000rpm and peak torque of 360Nm is delivered at 5200rpm.
The V6 runs a block and cylinder heads from aluminium and a symmetric twin ram air intake system for maximum air flow efficiency. Fuel consumption (combined cycle) is rated at 12.1l/100kms.
For the Infiniti FX30d’s 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel you can chalk-up 175kW at 3750rpm and a handy 550Nm as low as 1750rpm. It’s a state-of-the art turbo-diesel with a cylinder block cast from compacted graphite iron (CGI), variable nozzle turbocharger and piezo-injection technology.
Infiniti FX30d delivers combined cycle fuel consumption of 9.0l/100kms.
All Infiniti FX models drive through a seven-speed automatic transmission with a sequential manual mode featuring beautiful paddle shifters made from lightweight magnesium. The transmission has a driver-adaptive intuitive function which senses your current driving style and adapts the shifting matrix accordingly.
Infiniti FX The Interior
Infiniti’s high-performance character is apparent when you climb aboard and set your driving position – the FX belies its size and feels sporty from the get-go. That sportiness comes from excellent seats and the nicely-sized three-spoke steering wheel with rake/reach adjustment.
In front you can see the curved front fenders and also the stylishly curved dashboard (a feature of all Infiniti interiors) with slick white-light electroluminescent gauges.
To the left is the hallmark Infiniti analogue clock, climate control and navigation equipment – all very up-market in appearance – and the excellent 11-speaker Bose audio system with Burr-Brown digital-to-analogue converter.
Rear seat passengers enjoy easy access thanks to wide opening doors and plenty of leg-room.
Out-back the luggage capacity is a bit on the small side at 410-litres (1,305-litres with the 70-30 split-fold rear seat folded).
Infiniti FX Exterior & Styling
There’s no doubt about it, with the FX Infiniti has delivered a standout look. The short overhangs, long bonnet, stretched wheelbase and curved fenders ooze high-performance.
We liked the front fender air-vents – very ‘Range Roverish’ and purposeful too – extracting hot air from the engine bay and actually reducing front-end lift by as much as five per-cent at speed.
At the front the trademark Infiniti ‘double-arch’ front grille in chrome and the piercing High Intensity Discharge (HID) bi-xenon projector headlights add to the racy look.
And the rear with its superbly curved hatch and sculptured D-pillars…well boxy SUVs suddenly look dated.
Our 30D Infiniti FX rode on 21-inch alloy wheels while the 37 sat on 20-inch alloys – both looked great although the 21-inch alloys on the FX50S are crackers.
Infiniti FX On The Road
Two weeks in these two models confirmed our earlier impressions of the Infiniti FX…we want one!
Infiniti has the double wishbone front/independent multi-link rear suspension calibrated just right for performance drivers. Cornering is remarkably flat and this full-size crossover turns-in with poise even at the limit.
S models come with continuous damping control which – if you can stretch the dollars – is certainly handy, but even the FX37 is very impressive in the twisty stuff. However the clincher for us is the Infiniti FX’s ride – not ‘European firm’ but taut enough for performance drivers without being harsh.
For us, the Infiniti FX is the best of the non-German crossovers in this area.
Sure the size and complicated glasshouse of the Infiniti FX means CBD carparks and reverse parking are not for the feint-hearted but you soon get acclimatized and the reversing camera is a handy assist.
Infiniti FX Challenges
Our only points deduction after two weeks in these Infiniti FX models is the luggage area. Quite shallow and with only 410-litres without folding the rear seat is a bit of a drawback.
Infiniti FX Verdict
Overall the Infiniti FX is good enough to score a ‘Car Showroom Favourite’ status. We love the looks, the driving dynamics and the spacious interior.
And we certainly like the luxury and technology.
But most of all we like the style. It’s just so dynamic that you question the continuing ‘boxiness’ of many rivals in this segment. With the Infiniti FX you get it all – crossover convenience and sports car looks.
Infiniti FX The Competition
Well it’s a bit unfair to compare the Lexus RX ($69,900 to $100,900) because the RX is a segment smaller than the Infiniti FX. And of course the entry-level RX270 is four-cylinder so really the $77,900 RX350 comes closest to the FX37.
Mercedes-Benz ML is a Car Showroom Favourite and is certainly in the Infiniti FX league priced from $81,400 to $119,400 (excluding the ML63 AMG which is possibly the world’s best high-performance SUV). The ML delivers all that you expect from Mercedes-Benz and is actually very sharply priced.
Talking of Car Showroom Favourites, the BMW X6 rivals the Infiniti FX for on-road presence but with a starting price of $109,900 may not be in everyone’s consideration set. More likely the X5 models priced between $92,100 and $113,300 are in the mix. Hallmark BMW attributes and driving dynamics are the X5 standouts.