Infiniti FX50 CAR (2008) review

Published:05 May 2008

Infiniti FX50 CAR (2008) review
  • At a glance
  • 3 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel

The Infiniti FX50 will be the upmarket Japanese brand’s most expensive car when the company launches into Europe in autumn 2008. At an estimated £50k and with big 4x4s about as popular as a Cadbury's teapot right now, it’s a brave move.

Don't forget, Infiniti isn’t aimed at the conservative luxury market like Lexus. Instead Nissan’s luxury brand is targeting BMW – so something a little brash and in-yer-face probably won’t go amiss. As you can see, the FX50 certainly delivers on that front.

At this price, Infinti's range-topper will have to deliver. If it really wants to take on BMW, its products must drive better than its rivals from Bavaria. And not many people have managed that over the years...

So what are the basic ingredients of the Infiniti FX50?

To these eyes at least, good looks. They might be OTT for some, especially the 21-inch Enkei alloy wheels. But those wheels help disguise the proportions and, along with the chromed vent behind the front wheels, they give the car an almost front-mid engined look.

The head- and taillights mirror each other in shape while the integrated rear spoiler and roof rails also make the FX50 appear smaller than it is. And don’t worry about the sheer girth of the thing; there are four cameras to help you manoeuvre.

Click here for a preview of the June 2008 issue of CAR Magazine where we pit the Infiniti FX50 against the brand new BMW X6 xDrive 50i and the Range Rover Sport Supercharged

Click ‘Next’ below to read more of our Infinti FX50 first drive

What about inside?

There’s lots of space for people but not so much for their luggage. And while we’ve become used to BMW, Audi et al sharing parts between different model ranges, the same synergies feel out of place in the Infiniti FX50. Put that down to the fact that while the plastics and design are fine for a £30k saloon, they feel out of place in this £50,000 beast. Infiniti is promising improvements before European sales start (they all say that, don't they?).

But the FX50 is admirably gadget-packed, and that will be enough for many. We drove a US-spec car but expect equally generous offerings on this side of the Pond. Just about everything moves about with the help of electricity, while leather and a hard-drive sat-nav are also standard.

What do I actually have to pay extra for?

Our car came with a sport package and a technology pack to make it a complete gadgetfest. The former brings new seats to hold you firmly in place, while other bits and pieces are aimed at making you think you’re driving something truly sporty, and not a two-tonne SUV. The sport pack includes rear-wheel steering, electronic dampers and adaptive lights.

The tech pack comes with lane departure warning, radar cruise control and emergency brake assist. The latter might well be a help as one of the few faults we can find with the FX50 is its brakes. Grabby at first they fade soon after. Not good.

Click here for a preview of the June 2008 issue of CAR Magazine where we pit the Infiniti FX50 against the brand new BMW X6 xDrive 50i and the Range Rover Sport Supercharged

Click ‘Next’ below to read more of our Infinti FX50 first drive

What’s the rest of the driving experience like?

Rather quick. Gargantuan size and weight are overcome by 5001cc split between eight cylinders, and although it's naturally aspirated, it’s enough to keep BMW’s new twin-turbo V8 X6 honest.

Thank the seven-speed auto and the 2079kg kerbweight, which while not light is 186kg lighter than the BMW – and nearly half a tonne better than a Range Rover Sport. That means the Infiniti's 376lb ft always feel enough, as a 5.4 second run to 62mph testifies. The FX50 will top out at 155mph (which is plenty) and return 21.7mpg. Not great, but not bad when that supercharged Rangie does 17.8mpg.

You’ve told us about the go, what about the grip?

Great, but 21-inch layers of liquorice tend to have that effect when there’s four-wheel drive and two-tonnes pushing them into the road.

The ride is brittle though, and that’s before it gets worse when you press the Sport button. The FX50 is yet another car that would be far better with a single, properly set up suspension. We avoided the Sport button like the plague after our first play. BMW drivers might also find the steering a touch light but it’s pleasingly quick and direct.

Verdict

Early-adopters will be all over the brand new Infiniti showrooms for the FX50. It’s a stylish and quick alternative to their Mercs, BMWs and Audis.

But while a compromise of big V8 power, poor brakes and a hard ride might be okay for some, it won’t be until diesel power arrives in 2010 that the FX will become a serious alternative. Right now, you'll probably only buy an FX for its looks...

Click here for a preview of the June 2008 issue of CAR Magazine where we pit the Infiniti FX50 against the brand new BMW X6 xDrive 50i and the Range Rover Sport Supercharged

Specs

Price when new: £50,000
On sale in the UK: Spring 2009
Engine: 5001 32v V8 385bhp @ 6500rpm, 369lb ft @ 4400rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Performance: 5.4 sec 0-62mph, 155mph, 21.7mpg
Weight / material: 2079kg/steel and aluminium
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 189.1 inches 75.8 inches 65.9 inches

Rivals

Photo Gallery

  • Infiniti FX50S driven: interior photo
  • Infiniti FX50S driven: rear three-quarter photo
  • Infiniti FX50S driven: side photo
  • Infiniti FX50S driven: badge photo
  • Infiniti FX50S driven: rear three-quarter photo

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel

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