BMW v Porsche v Range Rover v Infiniti
7 January 2010

The Porsche Cayenne Turbo has long been the king of the fast 4x4 club, but that position has come under threat recently.

To find out if it's still the best, autocar.co.uk pitted it against the 547bhp BMW X6 M, 503bhp Range Rover Sport Supercharged and 385bhp Infiniti FX50S.

Video - BMW v Porsche v Range Rover v Infiniti - 4x4 showdown

See the BMW v Porsche v Range Rover v Infiniti - 4x4 showdown pictures

On track

Tested at the Bruntingthorpe airfield circuit, its remarkable how little body lean there is as you commit the Porsche to a corner, and how much speed it can carry in the wet conditions. As grip runs out, so it gradually understeers.

But you have to drive incredibly quickly to encounter that dynamic safety net. Most of the time it just turns, grips and goes harder than a lot of so-called performance cars weighing a full tonne less.

In relative terms the Sport feels quite slow and out of its depth on a circuit. Its handling is perfectly predictable and very nicely resolved, but the car pitches and rolls much more than any of the other cars on test here.

The Infiniti is also bested by the Porsche, but by a much smaller margin. It feels at home on the circuit, with quick and feelsome steering, taut damping and a balanced chassis. If it weren't giving up so much power to the Cayenne, it'd probably be quicker than it.

But it's the BMW X6 M that comes out on top. After the other three, the X6 M might as well be an Audi R8. It's twice as agile and sufficiently composed to be driven quicker through corners even than the Porsche.

In the wet, on a circuit, there's no doubt that the X6 M handles like a proper M car.

On road

Out on the road the BMW's refinement impresses, too. Despite its dynamic focus on track, there's little harshness in the car's ride and, like all modern M cars, you can detune throttle response if you want to. All in all, it's a pleasant thing to stroke along at seven or eight-tenths - but it rarely takes your breath away.

The Cayenne suffers in comparison. In Normal and Comfort modes the same delayed reactions to steering and throttle inputs present themselves, as they did on track. And yet Sport mode makes the car's B-road performance worse.

By contrast, the Range Rover's chassis feels superbly judged; it reeks of extensive spring and damper tuning. The car feels just firm enough to be hustled along with a bit of verve, and its commanding driving position, incisive steering and newly refreshed cabin allow you to take a lot of pleasure in driving it.

Yet it is the FX50S that stuns you. It handles, rides and steers like a Nissan 370Z. It feels connected to the road, and more like a sports car, more of the time, than any of the other cars.

It's fast - as fast as any car this size needs to be - and it costs £24,000 less than the BMW, £22,000 less than the Porsche and £8000 less than the Range Rover.

Verdict

Whether the money matters in this segment isn't relevant, though. The little-known Infiniti is the most sporting SUV on the market.

The full test report is in this week's Autocar magazine, on sale now.

Twitter - follow autocar.co.ukSee all the latest Infiniti reviews, news and video

Our Verdict

Infiniti FX

The Infiniti FX is an interesting alternative to the norm, but lacks space and comfort to compete in this class

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Comments
32

7 January 2010

Yet all of them will be as much use as a Nun's ovaries in the current UK weather conditions with their ultra low-pro tyres that aren't even remotely designed to cope with ice/snow. That and their power + lack of locking diffs. If I had the money to buy something with 500bhp I'd probably pick up an M5 and spend a couple of grand on a defender - actually, I'd just spend more on a Defender and be happy, as I don't even want 500bhp!

7 January 2010

[quote theonlydt]Yet all of them will be as much use as a Nun's ovaries in the current UK weather conditions with their ultra low-pro tyres that aren't even remotely designed to cope with ice/snow. That and their power + lack of locking diffs. If I had the money to buy something with 500bhp I'd probably pick up an M5 and spend a couple of grand on a defender - actually, I'd just spend more on a Defender and be happy, as I don't even want 500bhp![/quote]

The RR Sport does have a locking diff (in fact two of them) and with the right tyres is better than a Defender off road (this according to what I was told when I was last at Solihull at the factory by Land Rover people).

I think they're all excellent although I'm a little unsure about the Infiniti. I've no doubt the usual posse will be along soon decrying why anyone should buy one and doing their best to not live and not let live. The X6M will particularly draw their ire, I have no doubt, and it is for that reason that it's well worth buying. I wonder if they do them in yellow?

7 January 2010

[quote John McToon]The RR Sport does have a locking diff (in fact two of them) and with the right tyres is better than a Defender off road (this according to what I was told when I was last at Solihull at the factory by Land Rover people). [/quote] I was generalising with my comment about locking diffs - sorry I should have excepted the RR. With the right tyres the RR is awesome off road, but most of them are kitted out with massive alloys and low profile tyres. With the right tyres it is better off-road than the Defender with some aspects - the extra power helps, as does (at times) the electronics at play. I can't blame people for commenting on the X6M - I wouldn't stop people from buying them or making them, but I find them genuinely repulsive! Everyone has free choice, unfortunately not everyone has an understanding of class (hint - if Rooney et al. drive one, it's not classy).

7 January 2010

I think you're right. I wouldn't have an X6M under any circumstances really. Although the RR Sport in the right colour would be a lovely car (there are too many of them with black paint and black windows for them to be exclusive enough for me to spend that money on them). Even the Porsche would be a super vehicle to drive and so well built. The tyres on all of them would be perfectly adequate for 99% of the time but then we don't want to start that debate again, do we?!

7 January 2010

[quote John McToon]The tyres on all of them would be perfectly adequate for 99% of the time but then we don't want to start that debate again, do we?![/quote] Well.... no, actually. Please! Just looking at the list price of the X6M, it's starting at £80k. With 80k I'd buy a Skoda Superb 3.6 4x4 estate (more space and more useable space than x6m) for £30k and a decent defender, hell, even a brand new top of the range one is no more than about £30k. That leaves £20k to play with.

7 January 2010

Yet again, I agree! These cars are silly money. In fact, IMHO cars in general are silly money which is why I subscribe to the James Ruppert view of spending my money on a car that won't depreciate i.e. second hand!

Have you seen from Autocar's main page the news in the GLK class piece that Merc are indicating that they will bring 4x4 C and E classes to the UK. I'd have a C350 diesel estate 4-matic in a heartbeat.

7 January 2010

Do the words written even make sense? Perhaps they are contradictory?...

"The Infiniti is also bested by the Porsche, but by a much smaller margin. It feels at home on the circuit, with quick and feelsome steering, taut damping and a balanced chassis. If it weren't giving up so much power to the Cayenne, it'd probably be quicker than it.

But it's the BMW X6 M that comes out on top. After the other three, the X6 M might as well be an Audi R8. It's twice as agile and sufficiently composed to be driven quicker through corners even than the Porsche.

Yet it is the FX50S that stuns you. It handles, rides and steers like a Nissan 370Z. It feels connected to the road, and more like a sports car, more of the time, than any of the other cars."

" So after the other 3 the X6M might as well be an R8...

Yet it is the FX50S that stuns you. It feels connected to the road, and more like a sports car, more of the time, than any of the other cars."
Completely illogical and piss writing. J

7 January 2010

Well, I think we all wish we were as erudite as you. You give me something to aspire to. Thanks for being there.

7 January 2010

[quote jl4069]

Do the words written even make sense? Perhaps they are contradictory?...

"The Infiniti is also bested by the Porsche, but by a much smaller margin. It feels at home on the circuit, with quick and feelsome steering, taut damping and a balanced chassis. If it weren't giving up so much power to the Cayenne, it'd probably be quicker than it.

But it's the BMW X6 M that comes out on top. After the other three, the X6 M might as well be an Audi R8. It's twice as agile and sufficiently composed to be driven quicker through corners even than the Porsche.

Yet it is the FX50S that stuns you. It handles, rides and steers like a Nissan 370Z. It feels connected to the road, and more like a sports car, more of the time, than any of the other cars."

" So after the other 3 the X6M might as well be an R8...

Yet it is the FX50S that stuns you. It feels connected to the road, and more like a sports car, more of the time, than any of the other cars."
Completely illogical and piss writing. J

[/quote]

Yes, I thought the writing was confusing too.

Maybe, Autocar just wants people to buy the magazine (which is fair enough) where the article will, hopefully, make sense as to which is the most accomplished sporting 4x4, because I sure as hell couldn't tell from that jumbled piece.

7 January 2010

Forgive me, but if this is the full substance of the report, it is abysmal journalism. It's left to the chatterbox amateurs writing on this website to speculate about and discuss the qualities that are relevant in this group of off-roaders.

That's not to belittle the chatterboxes, it's to admonish the emptiness of this test, that doesn't attempt to demonstrate the ability of any of these vehicles to work in the role for which they were supposedly designed.

I could not care less how well these cars go around a circuit if I'm not going to be shown comprehensively how they compare when tackling rough terrain. I hope Autocar now embarrasses me by publishing the follow-up test that painstakingly plunges these cars into lots of deep mud, but I've got a feeling it won't happen.

Worse than simply being hack, this is so misguided, juvenile and vacuous that one begins to wonder if Autocar still deserves to be considered alongside the likes of CAR Magazine or Auto Express as a serious publication catering to adults. In the real world outside of the Autocar play-pen, grownups need to use vehicles for more than merely drifting around in circles wasting fuel.

I'm sure I'll get some stick for saying this in the midst of the profusion of people who tend to feel they've formed some sort of relationship with Autocar roadtesters, but mostly they will be those who have irretrievably descended into childish fantasy.

Living vicariously through journalists who have, to some extent, lost touch with reality, is understandable if the car on test is, itself, an idle frippery, but the same principle cannot be applied to all cars.

This article in particular has highlighted this problem quite acutely, as I would have found a proper test of the models in this sector truly useful.

I'm hoping that the full report to be published in the magazine proper contains the absent content I'm craving. If so, I'll gladly eat my words.

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