Infiniti FX45 Review
Imagine you're approaching your favourite viagra store. There's no traffic, the weather's fine and all the cops are down at the donut shop. Now, imagine you're in an SUV. I know: let's not and say we did. Still, if you had to thrash an SUV, which one would you choose? If you're thinking Porsche Cayenne, you're not wrong. But think again. Because no matter how you look at it, the Infiniti FX45 is the sportiest sports utility vehicle money can buy.
Saying that, a lot of people don't like looking at the FX45. From the front, it's a Chrysler Pacifica morphed with a robotic fish. From the back, it's a Renault hatchback with J-Lo's butt. From the side, it's got the same tiny rear overhang that makes Mercedes' SLK the Cyrano de Bergerac of sports cars. Yup, the FX45 is yet another Japanese attempt to create a new design language from American and European styling heritage. The result denies your eyeballs a moment's rest, but it is, um, "interesting".
Aesthetically offended drivers can shelter from the FX's manic futurism inside the cabin. Audi still owns the words "elegantly restrained interiors", but the FX45 shows that the rock garden dudes know a thing or two about Zen minimalism. Their judicious use of brushed aluminum, supple leather and soft touch plastics creates a calm, controlled environment. Sure, the three-spoke steering wheel looks a bit odd. And yes, the information system's tiny control knob practically begs you to snap it off. But the overall design is pure LJC (leather jacket comfortable).
Which is weird, because the moment you fire up the FX45's engine, the damn thing growls. Actually, it's more like an angry purr; the sort of noise the technically minded would expect from a 4.5-litre V8 with a variable intake manifold, 32 titanium valves and molybdenum coated pistons (for friction free fun). The supersmooth powerplant cranks out 315hp and 329 ft. lbs. of torque. That's more than enough grunt for the FX45 waggle its two fat tailpipes at the Porsche Cayenne S, BMW X5 4.6is and Mercedes ML55 AMG.
No really. The FX45 blasts to 60mph in 6.3 seconds. The Cayenne S is almost a second slower. The rest of the flying brick pack? Slower still. The FX45 is also incredibly quick from any speed, to any speed. Tickle the accelerator at 50. The "soft roader" drops down a cog and lunges forward like a puppy dog unleashed. Press the go-pedal harder. The SUV downshifts twice and leaps down the road. The choice is yours: effortless progress, confident overtaking or high-speed handling.
Normally, the words "SUV" and "high speed handling" don't appear in the same universe. Normally, the best way to manouevre an SUV around a sharp bend is choose an alternate route, slow down or turn in as early — and gently — as possible. Ask a Ford Explorer Owner; a hard-driven SUV can roll like a maki-making sushi chef.
The FX45 is an SUV, but not as we know it. Its G35-derived "Front Midship" platform places most of the mondo-V8's weight behind the front wheels, low down in the chassis. Its dubs (20" wheels) put more rubber on the road than the Rhode Island chapter of the Hells Angels. And the big ute's "sport tuned" front struts and forged aluminum multi-link rear suspension tie the beast down to an inch of its life. (Jag lovers: you have been warned.)
Back to that corner…
Snick the FX45's gear lever over to manual, rev the engine to 4000rpms and give it some. Infiniti's luxury leviathan will power through the turn like a big-engined Audi — with a big difference. The FX45's steering is better. OK, that's not really saying anything. How about this: the FX45's steering would delight a hardcore Carrera-ista. Anyway, just squeeze the gas, limit your steering and throttle inputs and go for it. Amazing Grace. How sweet the feel.
Of course, there are rules. Avoid roads with nasty mid-corner bumps. The dubs bunny hop sideways while the chassis flexes like pre-Conan Arnie. Remember that no driver's aid can save your bacon if you get a 4299lbs. of vehicle seriously out of shape. And don't take the FX45 off-road. The FX45 has part-time all wheel drive and 7.6" of ground clearance. And that's it. It can hop a curb, escape a soccer field, weather a snow shower and ford a rainy street. But it can't follow any of its rivals into the wilderness.
In case you were wondering how an upmarket Nissan could "steal Porsche's thunder", there's your answer. Infiniti built an SUV that goes like Hell on tarmac and left the rough stuff to its competitors. Infiniti calls it a "Crossover". Fair enough. If any truck can convince a corner-carving sports car owner to cross over to an SUV, it's the Infiniti FX45.
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