Road test: FX pivotal to laying Infiniti's foundations
THIS is the car which will lay the platform to Infiniti's success or failure in Australia.
With sports utility vehicle sales booming, the FX is nicely positioned to find a place in the driveways of our well-heeled.
While there is the M sedan and G convertible/coupe variants, the FX will be the volume seller. It is backed by strong success in North America for its drivability and striking good looks.
Drive-away prices start just above $93 grand, and is aimed at some of the most popular offerings from German big guns Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
Curved lines and quality materials deliver a cabin befitting the price-tag. The leather upholstery, available in graphite, wheat or java colour schemes, is supple and there are no hard plastics in sight.
The FX environs are more function-focussed than opulent when compared to its M sedan which has greater wow factor on first introductions.
Various operations are basic to use, from the sat nav and stereo to the dual zone air con, and we never felt the need to dive for the manual for extra instructions.
Heated and cooled front seats offer excellent support with electric adjustment in just about every direction, while dual bottle holders in the centre console and in the folding back arm rest are convenient inclusions.
On the road
It's simple to see why the FX has been so popular in the United States, it sits high on the road and cruises well on the highway.
Our range-topping test machine had the muscular 5.0-litre V8 which generates a nice exhaust soundtrack with the best notes coming under acceleration.
The FX can feel bigger than its dimensions dictate, and the multiple camera support (which provide excellent front, rear and aerial vision on the touch-screen) helps negate the turning circle and vision impairments when parking.
Yet select the Sport setting for firmer suspension and tear into some bends and the FX is adept at every tug of the wheel. Cornering prowess is aided by the Rear-Active Steer system, which uses precise, electronic motor-driven control to turn the rear wheels up to one degree.
It's quick, too, the bent eight gets things moving swiftly and easily lives up to the official figures of 0-100kmh in just over five seconds.
What do you get?
In comparison to others in this realm, you get good return for your coin with the FX50S. All inclusive is AroundView cameras and cornering sensors, 14-way power driver's seat, power telescopic steering wheel, sports front seats with leather trim, keyless entry with push button start, 20cm touch-screen, Bluetooth audio and phone connectivity as well as a pumping Bose stereo with hard drive.
This model gets all the latest in safety gear, so along with six airbags, stability control and anti-lock brakes, you also get radar cruise control, forward collision warning which beeps if a collision is imminent, along with lane departure warning and prevention.
There is some tough company, including the Audi Q7 4.2 TDI ($128,800), BMW X5 sDrive50i ($134,500) and the Mercedes-Benz ML500 ($119,400).
High performance is matched with high fuel consumption.
The hulking SUV slurps more than 13 litres of premium 98 unleaded petrol for every 100km.
The longevity and reliability of the FX has been good overseas and there is no reason why that would change here. Insurance may be expensive, depending on driver history and who your cover is currently with, so it's worth shopping around.
Boot space is reasonable, but not quite what you would expect from the external dimensions. There is enough to handle a couple of golf bags or the weekly grocery shop.
Functionality is aided by the 60-40 split-fold rear pew that can be dropped by a handle in the boot or by a latch on top of the seats.
The deep centre console offers some good storage while there are some handy pockets in the doors.
Sitting on 21-inch rubber and with cool bulging front wheel arches, it's a head-turning SUV.
Styling is anything but run-of-the-mill, and our week behind the wheel attracted plenty of attention.
What matters most
The good stuff: Attractive exterior stands out from the crowd, V8 note, standard specification list.
What we'd like to see: Better fuel consumption across the range, improved peripheral and rear vision - although the AroundView cameras on this model negate the issues.
Warranty and servicing: Four years/100,000 kilometres, generous roadside assistance program with provisions for accommodation, accident coordination and alternate vehicle supply. Servicing is at 10,000km or six months.
Model: Infiniti FX50S Premium.
Details: Five-door all-wheel drive luxury sports utility vehicle.
Engines: 5.0-litre petrol V8 generating maximum power of 287kW @ 6500rpm and peak torque of 500Nm @ 4400rpm.
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic transmission with Adaptive Shift Control and manual shift mode with Downshift Rev Matching.
Performance: 0-100kmh in 5.8 seconds.
Bottom line: $125,920 drive-away.