Infiniti FX 50s Review

When the invitation came in from Infiniti to test drive their FX50S, I wasn’t as enthusiastic as I should have been. The appeal of an SUV, much less one that is nowadays called a ‘crossover’, has always eluded me. Despite looking like they could, you cannot go off-roading in these. They are far too luxurious and spec’d differently from true dune bashers like the Land Cruiser and the Patrol. The luxury car segment is well covered by the likes of the S Class, the 7 series and the A8 and their ilk. If you wanted really spirited performance, you opted for a sports coupe. Where did a ‘crossover’ fit in to all this?

Infiniti_FX50S-1.jpgThe natural evolution of an enthusiast began, as I saw it, with a hot hatch or sport coupe. You put up with the limitation on passenger comfort until such time as the family started expanding. At which time, you moved on and got yourself a sport sedan. Once you began prioritizing bump-absorption over cornering ability, you started eyeing the luxury sedans. If going off-road kept you busy on weekends, your second car had to be a proper 4×4. The progression was simple and logical – until car manufacturers started creating and dividing classifications, expanding niches and sub niches and generally adding more flavors than Baskin Robbins could churn out in an inspired month. Hence the niche that we find foisted upon us today – the SUV/crossover.

At first glance, the FX50S tends not to reveal too much and only members of the Infiniti fan club, if one exists, would readily differentiate it from its lesser variant the FX35. The standard 21-inch, 6 spoke aluminum alloy wheels wearing 265/45/21 tires look purposeful and give a subtle hint of the FX50S’s stated mission. The looks are a matter of personal taste and one that takes some warming up to for most people. Others love it at first sight. I had a colleague drawing similarities to a shark – a Great White, not the benign sort zipping around in aquariums the world over, destined only to scare the hordes of school children gaping through plexi-glass.  Viewed from an angle for a sufficient period of time, I could visualize the FX50S’s maw casting a predatory shape. The gills just aft of the front wheel arches only go further in conjuring up the illusion. Funky headlights with Adaptive Front lighting System (AFS) and auto-leveling headlights do a marvelous job of lighting around the corner when negotiating ramps in the parking block. The overall design and size of the FX range conveys pep with none of the bulk that accompanies most SUVs.

The first indication of this machine’s seriousness is when you thumb the starter button and hear the V8 rumble. Easing out of the car park, the visibility is good to the front and sides although the rear window is rather slim, enforced no doubt by the swoopy design. You realize that you are sat at lever higher than a normal sedan (naturally!) but much lower than the big off roaders. The way the revs pick up from low speed is quite extraordinary and sounds very different to some American V8s that pause mid stride to clear its throat. The 5.0 litre V8 throws out 390bhp at 6,500 rpm and 50.98 kg-m of torque at a relatively low 4,400 rpm. A Double Overhead Camshaft layout, with 4 valves per cylinder and CVTVCS (Continuously Variable valve Timing Control System) help explain the urge for quick revs. Independent shock absorbers at each corner coupled with stabilizer bars help channel the power on to the road. Huge, vented 4-piston discs, 355mm front and 350mm bite hard when you step on the brake. Perhaps I could get to like this machine more if I stopped thinking ‘Sport Utility Vehicle’ and just concentrated on the ‘sport’ aspect?

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