Back in March one of the more contentious, luxury 4×4’s had a bit of a rework. The Infiniti QX80, that to put simply had a rough head, received some cosmetic surgery. As with humans, cosmetic surgery isn’t always successful. I’ve been wanting to see what this Nissan Patrol Y62 based Goliath actually looked like in the flesh and importantly how it was received by others, so here we go.
The Big Fat White Elephant in the Room.
I assume whoever designed the original face of the QX80 has been punted, or at the very least read the riot act. I’m going out on a limb and saying that it’s now acceptable to look at. It won’t scare small children, send the cat over 20 neighbours’ fences or haunt houses.
In fact, the more I drove it over a week the more it grew on me. There’s no doubt I’m in the minority here, but even passers-by were having a good old perv. They weren’t pointing in horror like the previous model, it was more of a “hey look there’s something as rare as Halley’s Comet.”
Because let me tell you a petrol 5.6-litre V8 Japanese 4×4 bigger than a Toyota Landcruiser is like spotting a Tasmanian tiger. There’d be only grainy footage around at best. But let’s take a serious look at the somewhat redeemed big boy from Infiniti.
The headlights, bumper, grille and bonnet have been lifted. The front as a result is now far squarer. The bonnet which originally was the main offender is 20mm higher and 90mm longer.
Adding LED daytime running lights adds sophistication and even the indicators look more integrated. Side on sees a taller character line, including a side air vent and reshaped front quarter panels. The rear is reasonably inoffensive having been made to look a little more rugged.
Inside the Cave.
Literally the interior space is cave-like. The gap between front passengers feels like over a foot and the upholstery is lush, especially the semi-leather seats and quilting across the door trim. The faux wood shouldn’t be used under any circumstances, sadly it surrounds you like a fake forest.
The second row could easily accommodate three six-foot adults, as they sit back and watch the entertainment screen embeded in the front seat headrests. I’d be even happy spending time in the third row, so large is the cabin.
The infotainment system is from another era, there’s only so much you can do to polish a you know what. You score a dash mounted controller for all the navigation, audio and climate control systems. There is however some handy driver assist programs. Standard safety kit includes blind spot monitoring, intelligent parking system, forward emergency braking and lane departure warning. What all this means is that it should prevent you from demolishing something forth and aft, autonomously.
The QX80 has a great adaptive cruise control system, one that will maintain a gap when in Distance Control Assist (DCA) mode irrespective of a speed being set. Also, if the rear window is blocked by say ice, person or cargo a rear mounted camera turns the normal rear-view mirror into a monitor, pretty cool.
Strangely there’s something electrifying about driving something this big that has the muscle to match. The 5.6-litre V8 produces 298kW and 560Nm. From a standing start it will leave many smaller, turbo-powered sedans or hatches and dare I say even the current Mustang GT behind. At least until 60km/h, trust me we just know this.
There’s also an appealing soundtrack to go all with this, there’s a sense of superiority from the driver’s seat, I’ll give it that. But then of course you need to go around corners. Infiniti has certainly made sure the steering isn’t a workout, it’s about as light as it gets. But as a result, there are times when you feel you’re driving a leather couch from Nick Scali down the road.
The air suspension does its best to keep body roll under control but ploughing into corners will quickly send the 22-inch wheels screaming in protest. On the flip side, so easy is the actual physics defying setup the QX80 quickly shrinks around you.
An all-mode 4WD system means you really can go a long way off road if you must, perhaps with different rims of course. The seven-speed automatic is swift and can be thrown into adaptive shift control or manual if need be.
The price remains at $110,900 before on roads, there’s a $1500 premium for metallic paint. Fuel economy requires a petrol tanker on standby, I averaged 21L/100km driving normally. The claimed economy is 14.8L/100km, um no. Thankfully there’s a 100L tank.
Look, I’d have one of these over a Toyota LandCruiser based Lexus LX570. But really you need to be someone I can’t even think of to consider it. It’s a car for the Middle East or those crazy Yanks. However, there’s something remarkable about driving along listening to doof doof music via a 15 speaker Bose sound system 5 metres above everyone else. It’s a 6 out of 10 for me.