The Auto Trader expert verdict:
Big and bold, the Infiniti FX is a distinctly left-field addition to the performance 4x4 market. You’ve got to be completely sold on the looks, though, because it can’t compete with the BMW X6 and Porsche Cayenne on the road.
Reasons to buy:
- Generous standard equipment
- Attention grabbing styling
- Entertaining to drive
How good does it look?
Eschewing the tight creases and crisp styling of the BMW X6 and Range Rover Sport, the FX sports a more voluptuous, almost cartoonish look. It’s not conventionally handsome, but there’s no doubt it’s an attention grabbing thing. The long bonnet and bulbous rear end give the appearance of a sports car on stilts, particularly when compared to its more boxy rivals. For 2012 the FX gets a facelift, limited to a new grille, wheels and two new paint colours. Very subtle, but seeing as most FX buyers choose the car based on its looks, Infiniti obviously didn’t want to rock the boat too much.
What's the interior like?
While the FX has all the leather, gloss black wood and brushed metal you would expect from a premium 4×4, the interior doesn’t exude the same sense of bespoke luxury as its German rivals. It’s the attention to detail which is missing. The dashboard architecture is uninspired and generic, the switchgear feels borrowed from a Nissan (Infiniti’s parent company) saloon and it simply doesn’t have the elegant cohesion of the best luxury cars. That said, it’s got all the toys you would expect of a luxury model and stays quiet and refined on the move.
How practical is it?
The sheer exterior size of the FX isn’t translated into the cabin. There’s ample head and shoulder room for front seat passengers, although the long of leg might struggle to stay comfortable on longer trips. The rear cabin is also too small for a car of this size, with headroom and knee-room at a premium. At 410 litres, the boot is also on the diminutive side, comparing more to a Nissan Qashqai crossover than more commodious rivals like the Range Rover. On the plus side, the seating position above those flared front wings means placing the car on the road is relatively simple. The view out of the small rear window is restricted, though, meaning parking in tight spaces can be tricky. Premium models get Infiniti’s Top View camera system, which gives a useful bird’s eye view of the car, as well as a rear facing camera to get around this problem.
What's it like to drive?
The FX is pitched as a sporty 4×4, and the driving experience goes some way to justify its billing. It feels commendably agile through the bends, particularly considering its 2,100kg kerb weight. There is noticeable roll whilst cornering, though this can be tamed by selecting the sport setting for the continuously variable dampers on S models. The FX is an entertaining car to hustle down a twisting road, but though the steering is direct, it is rather numb in terms of feedback. The ride quality is noticeably firm too, but while some of the surface imperfections are relayed into the cabin, it’s never jarring. The even harder sport setting doesn’t drastically alter the stiffness either, meaning you get the increased body control in the bends without an unbearable ride when cruising.
How powerful is it?
The three engines available all endow the FX with considerable pace. Those looking for the ultimate in performance should go for the 5.0-litre V8, which develops 385bhp, enough to get this full size 4×4 from 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds. A smaller 3.7-litre V6 is also available with 316bhp, but it’s the 235bhp 3.0-litre diesel that will make the most sense to UK buyers, as it offers the best blend of performance and economy. A 0-62mph time of 8.3 seconds may compare poorly to the petrol V6’s 6.8 seconds, but the mid-range urge and acceleration at higher speeds afforded by the surplus of torque, is a match even for the heavy-hitting V8. The brakes are strong enough to haul the FX down from three-figure speeds repeatedly – reassuring with all that weight to bring to standstill.
How much will it cost me?
This is not the FX’s strong suite. With even the most frugal option, the V6 diesel, returning just 31.4mpg on the official combined cycle, potential fuel costs alone are likely to be very high. The 3.7 and 5.0-litre petrol engines fare even worse, managing 23.4 and 21.6mpg respectively. CO2 emissions are also high. The diesel is the cleanest motor, emitting 238g/km. This puts it in road tax band L, along with the smaller petrol option, meaning tax costs of £815 in the first year and £460 for every year after that. The 5.0-litre petrol engine works out more expensive. With emissions at a heady 307g/km, customers will need to fork out £1,030 in first year road tax, with £475 payable each subsequent year. The figures compare badly to rivals such as the Porsche Cayenne, which is not only more powerful, but significantly cleaner and more fuel efficient.
How reliable is it?
The FX may be a relative newcomer to UK shores, but has been sold in Europe and the USA with no major problems documented. Furthermore, they are designed and engineered by Nissan, which enjoys a reputation for absolute reliability and integrity. In short, we would be rather surprised if you bought an FX and it turned out to be a lemon.
How safe is it?
The Infiniti FX was awarded a full five star rating by Euro NCAP, with the car receiving particular praise for its adult occupant protection and on board safety features. Key safety equipment includes tyre pressure sensors, six airbags, whiplash-reducing headrests and a speed limiter. Models in Premium trim are further bestowed with Lane Departure Warning and Prevention, Intelligent Cruise Control and Intelligent Brake Assist, which engages the brakes when it detects an impending collision.
How much equipment do I get?
The FX comes in two trim levels: GT and S. Standard equipment levels are generous with Bluetooth connectivity, keyless go, electric leather seats with memory function, powered tailgate, a seven-speaker audio system with USB and iPod connectivity, dual-zone climate control and an electrically operated sunroof. S trim adds active rear steer, in which the rear wheels steer up to one degree, to aid cornering. Switchable adaptive dampers are also included, which, in Sport mode, firms up the ride and increases body control through corners. Externally, S models ride on larger 21-inch wheels and gets smoked headlamp lenses and a smattering of metallic trim finishes. A ‘Premium’ specification is available in both trim levels, which adds a Multimedia Pack comprising of a high resolution touch-screen display, hard-disk based sat-nav with Michelin guides, voice recognition, and a Bose premium sound system with a ten gigabyte storage capacity. Most impressively, however, it comes with an Around View Monitor, which replaces the standard fit rear view camera with a top down 360-degree image of the car – ideal for slotting into those tight multi-storey spaces.
If you want a striking 4×4 that stands out from the crowd then the Infiniti FX could be the answer. While able and likeable, there’s no other reason to recommend it over the class leaders.