When it comes to SUVs, you can’t get much more leftfield than the Infiniti FX. Just look at it. You’ll either love or loathe the wacky looks, and the engine line-up has been equally divisive. Until now entry level was a smooth, gutsy 3.7 litre V6, the next rung up a 385bhp, 369lb ft 5.0-litre V8, both powered by the good stuff (that’s petrol in case you were wondering). Supposing your company was picking up the fuel tab, an FX was a pretty tasty option: plenty of grunt, lovely noise and, in V8 form at least, big-hitting performance.
Back in the real world it didn’t really make a huge amount of sense for the majority of Europeans. The sensible amongst us cried out for a diesel, as did Infiniti’s sales people, we imagine. And now they have it. This is the slightly less leftfield FX30dS Premium.
So what sort of car is the Infiniti FX30d have?
Aside from some slightly off-the-pace CO2 and mpg figures, the numbers look competitive: £51,730, 235bhp and 406lb ft. And look beyond the list price and you find so much standard equipment that in reality it undercuts most rivals (especially Range Rover) by a substantial margin. Somehow it’s less ostentatious than traditional SUVs, too. Okay, it’s not a car for shrinking violets but the FX’s lower roofline and wild curves just look a little bit less aggressive and lumbering than something like an X5.
It certainly feels smaller once inside. You sit relatively low and the swoopy dash wraps around you without feeling claustrophobic. There’s a wild mix of shapes, colours and materials and the steering wheel is tiny for a car like this. Infiniti has obviously continued the ‘concept for the road’ design theme, but it works rather well. Some of the shared Nissan switches might not cut it at Munich or Ingolstadt, though.
Dynamically it’s on the money. The diesel is smooth and quiet (not a match for the new Cayenne Diesel for refinement but better than a Range Rover Sport) and pushes the FX along with enthusiasm. The chassis is mostly terrific. The four-wheel steering system gives it uncanny agility, the rear-biased four wheel drive system (in steady state driving the FX is 100-percent rear drive, progressively sending power forwards when necessary) gives the car a nice balance and the seven-speed automatic ’box is not quite eerily smooth, but rarely makes itself known. The FX features adjustable dampers with Normal and Sport settings, the latter is a bit stiff for most UK roads but Normal strikes a good compromise between comfort and body control even if it is always on the firm side.
Overall the FX30d is something of a triumph. It looks weird and unconventional but actually underneath it all it’s just a nicely rounded package with surprising road manners and a real charm about it. The new Cayenne is marginally quicker, more practical (the FX’s boot is tiny) and has a higher quality interior, and BMW’s diesel engine still takes some beating… but if you fancy something out of the ordinary the FX won’t disappoint.
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