What is it?
The new Infiniti FX, which first appeared in early 2008 and has now finally gone on sale in the UK.
Three models are available, the £42,600 FX37 GT and £44,600 FX37 S both of which are powered by a 3.7-litre V6 engine. However, £53,600 will get you the range-topping and spec-heavy 5.0-litre V8 FX50 S. Indeed, so replete is the FX50’s standard features list, that the only option (at £650) was the ‘Umbria Twilight’ paint.
Aside from the 5.0-litre V8, the FX50 gets a seven-speed autobox (with nifty magnesium paddle shifters), all-wheel drive, speed sensitive and even rear wheel steering. Bundle all that together with the FX50’s front mid-engine balance, wide track and lowish centre of gravity and you have a highly competent cross-country machine.
What’s it like?
Even on a winding and dipping narrow country lane it’s possible to keep up an impressive head of steam, without having to wrestle with car. Although it doesn’t step off instantaneously, this is a very quick machine and it can carry the speed in challenging conditions mostly thanks to the really excellent body control and accurate, well-weighted, steering.
It’s extremely well-balanced on the most laterally undulating roads and has a remarkably good ride on the standard-issue 21-inch wheels, for which we should partly thank the highly impressive Continuous Damping Control. The FX’s appetite for back roads was not just measured by the driver’s sense of progress, the stopwatch backed up the car’s ground-covering abilities.
Without disturbing the horses, I managed to knock a substantial amount off my usual journey time from Hertfordshire to central London and the Sunday evening traffic was possibly heavier than normal.
There’s something about the combination of the car’s poise and the driver’s seating position that makes the FX feel imperturbable, whether it is on a B-road or carving along the motorway. It’s difficult to pinpoint why this is, but the combination of the mid-engined layout and much of the car’s weight being low down is probably the majority of the equation, though the exceptionally subtle rear-steering is probably the real key.
While it’s a great pleasure for the driver, the FX50 is not outstandingly practical. The cabin is snug (being pulled nice and tight around the driver) and the boot disappointingly small. The cabin is lavishly specified and nicely built and the (extendable squab) seats impressive. The only cheap thing about the whole vehicle is the key fob.
The FX50s standard-issue Connectiviti+ package is a highly impressive piece of kit. It mixes up a 3D sat-nav system, 10GB hard drive for music storage, an ipod sync, Bluetooth and Bose premium sound system. The FX also gets intelligent cruise control and ‘Low Speed Following’ which automatically brakes the car in heavy traffic to keep a safe distance from the car in front. The FX also has cameras mounted front, side and rear to give a 360 degree view of the road surface around the car.
There’s little to really complain about. The high beam of the swiveling Bi-xenon headlights is a bit weak and the auto headlights can fail to cancel after leaving a tunnel (leaving the instruments under-illuminated) but these are minor gripes.