Infiniti FX first impressions: big, bold and brassy

At last week’s launch of Nissan’s luxury brand Infiniti, we had some significant time with the company’s big and bold SUV, the FX.

The range

In the Aussie FX range there are three engine options to choose from: a 175kW/550Nm 3-litre turbo-diesel V6 (the FX30d), a 235kW/360Nm 3.7-litre V6 petrol (FX37) and a 287kW/500Nm 5-litre V8 (FX50). All are matched up to a 7-speed automatic transmission and an all-wheel drive system that in normal circumstances sends all the power to rear wheels.

Three trim specs are offered — GT, S and S Premium — with the latter standard on the V8 FX.

Buy a GT and you’ll find your FX equipped with 20-inch alloy wheels, aluminium roof rails, bi-xenon headlights with adaptive lighting and automatic on-and-off, tinted rear windows, heated wing mirrors, automatic window wipers, LED tail-lights, keyless entry and start, and a powered tailgate. On the inside there are magnesium paddle shifters mounted to the steering column, powered front seats with memory settings for the driver’s side, a sunroof, three 12V sockets, rear view camera, front and rear parking sensors, and cruise control.

The Bose 11-speaker entertainment and nav system is standard throughout the range, and can be controlled either via either the 8-inch high-res touchscreen, steering wheel buttons or a five-way controller on the dashboard. There are the usual features, such as Bluetooth for hands-free and music streaming, an auxiliary jack, a CD slot and a USB port that’s iPod compatible. The nav system resides on a 30GB hard disk, with 10GB set aside for music storage.

Step up to the S package and you’ll gain 21-inch alloy wheels, Continuous Damping Control, rear-wheel active steering (not available on the FX37), sports seating up front and a 14-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat.

In the S Premium, there’s an Around View Monitor that skews and pastes together the imagery from four cameras outside the car (one at the front, one out the back and one on each side) to give you a complete view of what’s around your big hulking FX. You’ll also find front collision warning system, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist and lane departure warning.

First impressions

From the outside, the FX can’t help but make an impression. With its massive 20 or 21-inch alloy wheels, low ride height (for an SUV) and long, flat bonnet, the FX looks like a Japanese interpretation of a lover’s tryst between a traditional SUV and a classic American hot rod.

Step into the driver’s seat and the sports car theme continues as the view out the front incorporates that same said long flat bonnet and high-peaked fenders. Unfortunately the rest of the cabin lacks the sparkle, charm and modernity the brash exterior demands. The dashboard is big, vertical and black, and could be from any SUV or four-wheel drive.

As a driving experience the FX does a pretty good job overcoming its obvious SUV handicaps, chiefly the 2-tonne-plus weight in both the FX30d and FX50. Cornering is fairly flat and the ride is surprisingly good even though our cars were fitted with 21-inch alloy wheels.

The V8 FX50 looks the business on paper, but during our brief drive in the ranges north of Brisbane the V8’s performance was blunted by the aforementioned body weight. Effective noise insulation has also taken away the beast-like howl that should be part of any V8 car’s calling card. Also, the windy roads peppered with trees and warning markers, sent our press vehicle’s front collision warning system into a tizzy, beeping and chirping at every twist and turn.

With its surfeit of torque the FX30d, in which we spent most of our time, will probably prove to be the pick of the lot. It’s powerful enough when the roads presented themselves — and they presented themselves over and over again during the launch — and shouldn’t empty out the tank on the way to-and-from the shops (Infiniti quotes an official fuel economy rating of 9L/100km).

Although the guys and gals at Infiniti Australia weren’t keen on talking about sales targets or projections, the general consensus amongst the press corps was that FX would comprise the lion’s share of the company’s sales and that a lot of that would be thanks to its unique and brash style; a conclusion from which we wouldn’t demur.

Aside form the nav system, we didn’t get much time to play with the car’s tech. For that you’ll need to stay tuned for our complete review of the new FX SUV and M sedan in the coming weeks.

Note: Derek Fung travelled to the launch as a guest of Infiniti Cars Australia.

Derek Fung

Derek Fung

Derek has a lifelong love for all things automotive, from the dullest Camry to record shattering Bugattis. Prior to starting up Between the Axles he was a reviewer for CNET Australia and the founding editor of its Car Technology channel. [Read more]