It’s certainly one of the most distinctive SUVs to emerge on the local market, but is the new Infiniti FX30d’s talent more than skin-deep?
Styling and Packaging
It’s pretty much impossible to do a write-up on the FX without making some allusion to the styling, as it possesses head-turning ability like nothing else in its class. The profile is a sort of hybridized GT/SUV treatment with a long nose tailed by a cab-back layout and a mildly raised ride height that is visually obfuscated by the vast 21-inch alloy wheels upon which this Premium S model rolls. Then there’s the manner in which the small head- and taillamps sit against vast swathes of billowing sheet metal, the huge chrome-louvred grille with its pinched-in flanks and ‘gill’ vents on the front wings. Love-it or loathe-it, the FX will put most of its ilk in the shade presence-wise.
That unusual profile does have its drawbacks, though. The cabin is not especially spacious, with rear occupant space being merely adequate, and the boot doesn’t seem quite as capacious as the 410 dm3 that Infiniti claims. In contrast to the flamboyant exterior, the Infiniti’s cabin seems quite restrained, especially in darker trim colours. The facia design is neat and possesses some sporty touches, such as the hooded instrument binnacle and dual-port cockpit set-up. The seats are supportive, sympathetically bolstered and there’s enough steering/seat adjustment to ensure a comfy perch as you peer out over that vast curvature of bonnet. As can be seen in the interior photos, the FX does share a good deal of its switchgear with other models in the Nissan stable – most notably that infotainment system, which has done service, in varying guises, in the likes of the Murano and higher-end Navaras. Call it economy of scales, parts sharing, whatever; it will meet with a mixed response. The fact the overall fit, finish and execution are what’s expected in this sort of vehicle is acknowledged and appreciated, but some simply won’t come to terms with the fact that a premium-placed product costing the thick end of R700k has Nissan bits – make of it what you will…
Engine and dynamics
This model is powered by an uprated version of the V9X 3,0-litre V6 turbodiesel found in the Nissan Navara 3,0 V6 dCi developing 175 kW and a hefty 550 N.m of torque. As the figures suggest, this engine has plenty of guts and is well mated with the 7-speed automatic transmission. We’d go as far as saying that it feels more in tune with the FX than the 5,0-litre V petrol unit which, despite serving up more power (287 kW) is 50 N.m down on torque and feels less urgent than the diesel. Infiniti claims a 0-100 km/h time of 8,3 seconds and a fuel economy figure of 9,0-litres/100 km on the combined cycle with CO2 emissions of 238 g/km.
Although the smattering of Murano parts in the cabin would suggest that Nissan’s big SUV had lent its underpinnings to the FX, the Infiniti is actually underpinned by a modified version of the rear-wheel drive FM platform that forms the foundations of the Nissan 370Z. The steering is a bit vague at times, but no worse than in most SUVs of this type, and the ride tends to err on the side of fidgety – no doubt, this model’s huge 21-inch alloys shod with fairly low-profile rubber are the likely culprits when it comes to the ride and noticeable road noise infiltrating the cabin. In terms of overall handling, the FX manages to feel reasonably nimble for what it is but still lags behind the likes of the Porsche Cayenne and BMW X6 against which it is pitched.
This model’s Premium S specification means that the R768 613 model is laden with features, including; Maplewood interior trim, 21-inch alloys, dual-mode suspension damping, rain/light sensors, intelligent cruise control, lane departure prevention system (gently brakes the left wheels to pull you back onto your intended line), radar-assisted braking, keyless entry and go, Bose audio system with Bluetooth and 10 GB storage and sat-nav with 30 GB storage. This compares favourably with such rivals as the very basically equipped Porsche Cayenne Diesel and the BMW X6 xDrive40d, costing around R80k more.
Perhaps the greatest challenge the FX faces is brand perception – it is competing in a segment where such established favourites as the BMW X5/X6, Porsche Cayenne and Land Rover Discovery have held sway for a very long time. In terms of refinement and overall dynamics the FX cannot honestly be held as a class-leader, but in terms of specification (even the base model doesn’t want for much) and sheer visibility it has very few peers. It will take a while for South Africans to warm to the Infiniti nameplate, but in the FX the firm has certainly announced its arrival with a bang.
Model: Infiniti FX30d S Premium
Engine: 3,0-litre, V6 turbodiesel
Power: 175 kW
Torque: 550 Nm
Fuel consumption: 9,0 L/100 km
CO2: 238 g/km
Top speed: 212 km/h
Acceleration (0-100km/h): 8,3s
Price: R768 613
*all manufacturer’s claimed figures