High on style and performance, but no rival for the BMW X6

What is it?

Infiniti’s answer to the BMW X5. This is the second generation FX, but the first to come to the UK. The range-topping FX50 comes with a new 5.0-litre V8 engine with 390bhp and a standard seven-speed automatic transmission. Lesser petrol powerplants, and even a diesel, will also be offered here.

The original FX was a big hit in America, which will continue to be the dominant market for this version. That means evolutionary design changes, although some ‘LA-style’ bling also comes along for the ride, including the large side vents set behind the front wheelarches.

What’s it like?

Despite its size and dimensions, the FX50 sounds more like a classic American hot rod than a two-tonne SUV: the V8 motor is far louder than you would expect from a car like this. Performance is predictably strong, Nissan claims that the 0-60 mph dash takes just 5.3 seconds, and the paddle-shift over-ride for the automatic transmission is quick and responsive – it even blips the throttle on downshifts.

You can throw the FX into corners and it grips with enthusiasm. It’s no rival for the BMW X6, but it’s a pretty tidy handler, too.

The ride-quality is still less than perfectly resolved. Our test car came in American spec, but with the adjustable dampers in either ‘sport’ or ‘auto’ mode it felt too firm for the UK’s corrugated tarmac. Nissan’s UK technical centre at Cranfield is tweaking things further before cars arrive in the UK.

Inside, good design and quality are the overall theme; a substantial improvement compared to the last FX. The cabin is comfortable and well-designed, and European versions will get better quality material and trim than US-spec models. The problem is quantity rather than quality, with the small boot knocking the FX’s case compared to rivals.

At least Infiniti compensates with impressive spec. Either standard or available is a lane departure system that uses light braking to keep the FX on its intended path, automatic emergency braking, radar cruise control that can bring the vehicle to a complete stop, rear-wheel steering, plus a camera system displaying a view of the front, rear and side of the vehicle on the satnav screen.

Should I buy one?

On style and performance, the FX is bang on. Sure, some of the details on the outside such as the vents behind the front wheels and the wavy front grille are a bit over the top but if you’re looking to get noticed, the Infiniti fits the bill.

Then there’s the ride. We’re worried that there’s only so much the Japanese company can do to smooth out an SUV that shares it’s chassis with a rather rough sports car (the 350Z) and rides on 21-inch wheels.

That said, Infiniti’s G37 Coupe has quite an accomplished setup and it shares the same underpinnings. All that’s left is to have a go in the final Euro spec FX before it goes on sale a year from now. You’re sure to read about the drive here first.

Marc Noordeloos

Add a comment…