What is it?
This is Infiniti’s much-needed diesel-powered FX SUV, which will dramatically increase the brand’s chances in a European market segment that is 80 per cent oil burning. Of the three thousand or so Infinitis sold in the EU so far, 55 per cent have been FX models.
The FX30d is powered by a version of the Renault-Nissan V6 turbodiesel engine, albeit much modified. Infiniti’s involvement in the V9X project from inception means it gets changes to the block, crankshaft, turbocharger, heads, sump and intercooler system.
The block is made from Compacted Graphite Iron, the heads are aluminium and the variable nozzle turbocharger sits in the ‘V’ of the engine. The unit develops 235bhp and 406lb ft of torque, which peaks at just 1750rpm.
The active engine mounts work in two stages; soft at start-up to damp out vibration and then stiffer when the FX is traveling at higher speed. The latter mode also improves the handling by more securely locating the engine.
The engine drives a 7-speed autobox, which, in turn, drives the car’s ATTESA all-wheel drive transmission. Fundamentally, the FX is a rear-drive car with a front-mid-mounted engine. That means under normal conditions, 100 per cent of torque goes to the rear wheels, up to 50 per cent to front on slippery surfaces.
What’s it like?
In a word, honed. The new engine is as refined as the competition, certainly in terms of the absolutely minimal vibration and harshness that reaches the cabin. There’s an argument that the engine noise itself is a little more noticeable than the equivalent BMW or Mercedes V6 diesel, but it’s not unpleasant.
It’s quick too, with plenty of pace on the motorway. On winding roads the FX’s balanced weight distribution and direct steering mean this big machine can be chucked around with some abandon and impressive accuracy. It even rides well on the 20in wheels.
I spent most of the test drive in the slightly less aggressively tuned GT model, but a short run in the ‘S’ model (which gets Continuous Damping Control and rear-wheel steering) proved again that this version of the FX is unsung hero. The superb body control and rear-steer lifts this wieldy car onto another level.
Should I buy one?
If you are contemplating a diesel Cayenne, X6 or Range Rover Sport… then, yes. The FX is not huge inside, but it is very well made and the new engine – which returned 28mpg on a hard drive around Barcelona – is up there with the best. It’s well equipped, too. With the specifications matched, it can be significantly cheaper than the Porsche or BMW.