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Infiniti QX80 – big, better, best?
  |  First Published: February 2016



Let’s start this review with what the Infiniti QX 80 isn’t. It’s not a big poser SUV that can hum along on the sniff of diesel or petrol fumes, pretending to have off-road cred where’s there’s none, or hoping to generate some on-road presence because of stylishly sleek lines.

The Infiniti QX 80 is definitely none of these things. It’s big, bold, brash, hugely capable off road, drinks ample fuel and has styling that most people either love or hate.

The big Infiniti is an eight seat wagon based on Nissan’s Y62 Patrol and it comes across, through bold design, as being even bigger than the massive Patrol. While the Y62 Patrol is a big unit, the Infiniti, with its redesigned front and rear treatment, is even bigger! There’s also a massive list of luxury interior features and appointments over and above the little brother Patrol, setting Nissan’s luxury brand apart from siblings. The QX80 sits within a very select market niche with the likes of the LandCruiser based Lexus LX570, the Range Rover V8 petrol, and Mercedes Benz GL class.

UNDER THE BONNET

There’s no diesel engine under that wide bonnet. Instead there’s a refined double overhead cam multi-point fuel injected 5.6L V8.

The output figures are impressive: there’s enough power here to easily tow 3500kg braked trailers which takes in a lot of boats and caravans. A tow bar is part of the Infiniti’s kit.

Whisper quiet at idle, emitting a very deep roar when pressed, the V8 outputs 298kW and 560Nm with maximum torque cutting in at a very low 1600rpm. The power to weight ratio is a sparkling 105W/kg, and a silky smooth seven-speed auto transmission keeps the rubber in touch with the road via efficient traction control, despite the tremendous urge of that big V8 engine.

While power and economy cannot go hand-in-hand, I suspect that fuel consumption won’t be a consideration for anyone lucky enough to afford the $110,900 (plus on-roads) required to see a QX80 come home. For the record, we averaged 18.7L/100km during a mix of country and city driving.

A scene stealer

Whether on the highway or simply parked, the Infiniti QX80 is a scene stealer. Tipping the scales at 2.8tonnes and riding on 22” wheels, it’s a big unit. Yet once you’re inside with electrically adjusted seats set to perfection, the big Infiniti is seductively easy to drive and enjoy to the utmost. The level of comfort and features that pamper everyone on board are on a scale that has to be experienced to be believed. As an example, the brilliant climate control air system has a purifier, and the Infiniti’s headlights follow bends in the road.

Soundless in operation through the gears, and butter-smooth moving off the mark and joining traffic, the QX80 is a grand tourer in every sense of the word. Effortless power, a ‘king of the road’ style of ambience throughout and with driver and passengers sitting as high as you can get without buying a truck, it’s easy to relax and enjoy the trip. It’s that sort of car.

A top shelf ride comes courtesy of a suspension system tweaked to provide total insulation from road imperfections. Ripples or pot holes are dismissed as being hardly worthy of attention, and a dedicated hydraulic body motion control system is designed to minimize body roll on winding road surfaces. With the windows up, all exterior road noise is banished and sheer driving pleasure takes over.

Plush interior

The cabin of the Infiniti has a definite upmarket ambience. There’s wood panelling throughout, even on the steering wheel. Storage nooks and crannies beckon while the roominess in every direction is pervasive. Soft leather shines throughout with no chance of the tender human frame coming in contact with anything remotely hard or uncomfortable.

Soft plastic takes over where leather stops. Buttons and switches prevail – there’s a button to open the rear boot, and another to tumble the middle seats (of the three rows) down to allow entry into the third row of seats. These seats provide ample room for two adults or three children and there’s full air conditioning plus ample visibility thanks to the large wide windows. When not in use the third row of seats fold flat to the floor at the touch of a button.

Looking at rear storage space with the second and third row of seats down flat, there’s a whopping 2400L of area to play with. With the third row flattened and the middle upright there’s 1400L on hand, which is still plenty.

An 8” touch screen linked to an intuitive sat nav system dominates the well-appointed dash layout. It does have a hint of complexity but it doesn’t take long to familiarise yourself with it, and after that it’s easy to monitor.

INTERIOR

The drive position is brilliant. The front seats are large, leather and have infinite electric adjustment. There’s ample visibility all round thanks to massive side windows and big external mirrors, while lane departure warnings and system totally monitor all driving. There’s a blind spot warning system, surround view camera (with options of course) and a radar guided cruise control system.

Headlights automatically turn and adjust to corners, and every conceivable feature is electrically operated. Second row passengers not only have immense head and leg room but are able to enjoy the 7” screens with USB/Aux and DVD capability set into the rear of the front seats. All aboard are treated to superb sound courtesy of a Bose multi-speaker sound system.

Off road capable

Last but not least, the Infiniti is still quite off-road capable (thanks to its Patrol heritage) via a console dial linked to the All Mode 4WD system and computer-controlled transfer case. There’s 4H for normal on road work, 4L for crawling off-road with in between settings of sand, rock, and snow. Traction control, hill descent and diff lock are also neatly arrayed within the dial’s settings.

Summing Up

The QX80 is a definitely a niche vehicle. While it’s totally equipped, smoothly capable and has a superb level of comfort and features, it also has an external design that you might find out of step with those few competitors it has. Still, if you don’t mind its unconventional appearance, it won’t disappoint when it comes to sheer driving pleasure and comfort.

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