Infiniti QX80 Review and First Drive

by under Review, SUV, 4x4, luxury on 23 Jul 2015 09:01:37 PM23 Jul 2015
2015 Infiniti QX80
FROM $110,900
Fuel Consumption

Thumbs-up: competent for towing; astonishingly good to drive


Bold looks not everyone’s cup of tea

It’s big and bold, uncompromisingly luxurious and, with eight seats and a 3.5-tonne towing capacity, Infiniti’s all-new QX80 V8 full-size SUV has instant appeal to a broad cross section of buyers. Families, ‘Grey Nomads’, equestrian enthusiasts and those with large boats…Infiniti has your needs covered.

On the other hand, that powerful V8, the somewhat intimidating looks and luxurious seating for eight has seen the Infiniti QX80 become the favoured vehicle of rappers, NFL footballers, baseball and basketball stars in North America. We’ve seen them in Los Angeles and Miami with black paint, dark-tint windows and massive wheels…and, well they just look awesome.


So, for many reasons the QX80 could be the car which puts Infiniti on the radar. Good as the handsomely-styled QX70 is, the QX80 mounts a compelling argument to not only be the best of its type but also the best value.

And things really kick-start for Infiniti next year with the early arrival of the vitally important Q30 compact car and its cousin the QX30 crossover. Later we’ll see the production version of the stylish Q60 coupe which was shown as a concept car at the Detroit Auto Show.

Infiniti QX 80 Overview

We’re certain some of our colleagues will labour the point that the Infiniti QX80 is based on the Patrol SUV from sister company Nissan. Yes, and you can fly to London sitting-up in an ‘Economy’ seat or sleeping soundly in a First Class flat bed with Egyptian cotton sheets and a fluffy doona.


You can’t overlook the styling changes unique to the Infiniti QX80, the massive suite of extra technology and the abundant luxury (semi-aniline leather seats, a heated timber/leather steering wheel and 15-speaker Bose audio just for starters) – not to mention it has eight seats to seven in the Patrol. Then there’s the driving dynamics with the Infiniti QX80 running the excellent ‘Hydraulic Body Motion Control’ system and 22-inch alloy wheels to provide the sort of responsive cornering, ride and handling one normally associates in this league with Range Rover products.

Infiniti has launched the QX80 in Australia in one fully-equipped model (including an integrated towbar frame and towbar package and a four-year warranty with premium roadside assistance) priced at $110,900. That’s a whopping $23,800 less than Lexus’ LandCruiser-based LX570.


Infiniti QX80 Engine

Under the bonnet is Nissan’s VK60 5.6-litre V8 petrol engine. With 298kW of power at 5800rpm and 560Nm of torque at 4000rpm (90 per-cent available from as low as 1600rpm) the Infiniti QX80, despite its 3500kgs bulk, ‘hauls the mail’ with the best of them.

Drive is via a seven-speed automatic transmission with ‘Adaptive Shift Control’ (ASC) and downshift rev matching in manual mode. Infiniti QX80 runs Nissan’s excellent ALL-MODE 4X4 system which uses an electronically-controlled multi-plate clutch in the transfer case (no mechanical centre differential) which can transfer up to 50 per-cent of drive to the front wheels on demand.

This is all simply operated via a circular switch panel on the centre console with four driving modes (snow, sand, rocks and on-road) plus Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist.

Combined cycle fuel consumption is rated at 14.8l/100kms (exactly the same as the Lexus LX570) and the Infiniti QX80is equipped with a 100-litre fuel tank.


Infiniti QX80 The Interior

With some obvious rivals from the likes of Range Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Lincoln and Cadillac to contend with on the global stage, Infiniti didn’t hold back when kitting-out the super-luxury interior of the QX80. Dimensions are just massive and the eight seats are in a 2+3+3 configuration with even the third row offering surprising spaciousness and easy access via electronic adjustment of the second row (and as part of that adjustment those in the second row have a recline function).

Naturally there is an abundance of beautiful semi-aniline leather (including for the gear-lever and timber-look steering wheel) and ‘Stratford Burl’ timber trim highlights. And just opening the doors presents very stylish Infiniti sill plates in stainless steel.

Front row occupants enjoy sumptuous electronically-adjustable seats with heating and cooling functions. In fact those seated outboard in the second row also have heated seats.

With 10-way electronic seat adjustment (including two adjustment s for lumbar support) plus electronic tilt/telescopic steering wheel adjustment, the driver will easily find as comfortable position. In-front is a comprehensive array of electroluminescent gauges and, to the left, the eight-inch touchscreen includes the navigation and ‘Around View’ monitor images.

On the infotainment front there is a 5.1 Bose ‘Cabin Surround’ 15-speaker system with an eight-inch colour touch screen up-front. Second row passengers have their own dual seven-inch colour monitors for multimedia playback and individual stereo headphones.

Luggage space is of course gargantuan when the third seat row is folded away - but even when it is in use, the Infiniti QX80 provides a not-inconsiderable 470-litres.


Infiniti QX80 Exterior & Styling

Your eyes are instantly drawn to the front-end of the Infiniti QX80. This full-size SUV takes ‘brawn’ and ‘muscle’ to new levels (and explains in part its appeal to the flamboyant types of American entertainment and sport).


Infiniti says of the QX80: “Its combination of size and styling conveys an underlying sense of power and strength. The prominent front chrome grille is flanked by the dusk-sensing bi-functional headlights with integrated washing system and front fog lights. The Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFS) with auto-leveling headlights also has an automatic high beam function”.

So there.

Yes the Infiniti QX80 is American influenced and yes it is kind-of out there in the on-road presence department. And for all of that we really like the QX80 – it’s like the Airbus A380 of luxury SUVs.

Front-end aside you can obviously see the external cues to the Nissan Patrol Y62 Ti-L.


Infiniti QX80 On The Road

Infiniti calls it ‘Hydraulic Body Motion Control’ (HBMC). It’s a system of cross-linked hydraulic chambers integrated into each shock absorber which can vary suspension travel either side of the vehicle to produce a flat (no body roll) ride.

HBMC actually firms-up the suspension on the outside of a corner to keep things ridiculously flat for a full-size SUV. In terms of the similar system fitted to the Nissan Patrol, the Infiniti QX80’s system is calibrated nine per-cent firmer to work in collaboration with the 22-inch alloy wheels to provide a sportier dynamic.


We know it works having spent a full day behind the wheel of some Infiniti QX80s on various sealed and dirt roads in Central Tasmania.

In fact we’d go so far as to say the Infiniti QX80 is astonishingly good to drive.

You’ve got all that shove in the back from the mighty 289kW/560Nm 5.6-litre V8, a commendable seven-speed automatic transmission which is pleasingly prompt to work when shifting manually and steering feel and chassis dynamics which – especially considering its size – are just brilliant.

And all of this comes with a top-shelf level of refinement and quietness even at high speeds. Our Infiniti QX80s soaked-up road blemishes and poor surfaces with hardly a whiff of noise inside.

While Infiniti didn’t have any trailers for us to tow on the day, your correspondent has spent thousands of hours towing all sorts of trailers behind all sorts of tow cars and gleaned enough to be 100 per-cent confident the Infiniti QX would be a delight to drive while hauling your caravan, horse float or bloat trailer. 


Infiniti QX80 Issues

The imposing looks of the Infiniti QX80 which we love and which have driven sales with the ‘in crowd’ in Hollywood may be a tad too much for some.


Infiniti QX80 Verdict

“Wow – what’s that?” was our reaction when we first saw the Infiniti QX80 in Naples, Florida last year. We were expecting to see a Cadillac or Lincoln badge but there was the Infiniti logo large and proud.


Now the QX80 is here in Australia and very sharply priced at $110,900 we’re no less excited. OK, large, luxury SUVs are not everyone’s cup of tea and Infiniti says, despite lots of enquiries from customers who have see the QX80 in North America and the Middle East, sales volumes won’t be large.

But for those whose lifestyles steer them towards these sorts of cars we have a new best-in-class in the form of the Infiniti QX80. Yes, it really is that good.

Infiniti QX80 The Competition

Clearly the most direct rival is the LandCruiser-based Lexus LX570 and clearly at $134,700, Infiniti has a massive price advantage ($110,900 for the QX80 remember). While the Lexus matches the Infiniti QX80 with eight seats, the Infiniti is a newer design and the fresher-looking interior is more appealing to us. The Infiniti also has the edge in power and torque, its seven-speed automatic transmission and is a sharper drive.

A favourite at is the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class although as we write we know there is an all-new model on the way. Closes current rival for the Infiniti QX80 is the GL500 which enjoys Benz’ 320kW/700Nm twin-turbocharged 4.7-litre V8 petrol engine. Like the Infiniti QX80, the GL provides a third row seats which even full-size adults will find comfortable. But it’s $159,900 for the GL500.

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