In the rarefied atmosphere of the F-segment, few vehicles reach the heights of Infiniti’s latest addition – at over five metres long and nearly two metres high the QX80 behemoth comfortably trounces the Mercedes-Benz GL, the Range Rover and even the leviathan Lexus LX. It is, to misquote Alfred Kinsey, the be-all-and-end-all of Size Matters. Happily, its performance equals its presence, a 5.6-litre naturally aspirated V8 more than a match for the nearly three tonnes it must heft around.
Inside there is everything befitting a club lounge, swathes of (real) leather, plenty of wood panelling, and more room than a Swedish barn before harvesting. There are three rows of seats, with limousine legroom in the second row and even hatchback room in the third row. Both rows fold (the third electronically), to produce a nearly flat floor so deep it’s good for a game of touch rugby on long trips.
Up front at the helm – the QX80 is too big to be merely driven – a part-leather, part-wooden steering wheel (big) predominates with two enormous dials for speed and revs directly ahead and a (big) infotainment screen in the centre console that is one of the few hints of the Infiniti’s less grandiose Nissan heritage. Pathfinder owners will recognise its functionality, and indeed it is one of the most user-friendly touchscreen interfaces around, kind to large fingers and slow synapsers.
Start the locomotive and the far-off howl of the V8 is both old-school and satisfying. On the road there are a few surprises, most notably the very light steering and the well-controlled pitch and sway, even at speed or through tighter cornering. The latter should not be a surprise; a complex, automatic, hydraulic, body motion control system regulates both aspects, producing the imperious, buoyant ride that has won the QX80 friends and acolytes in very cold and very hot places across the world. To say there is no shortage of torque would be an understatement on par with Montgomery’s suggestion that his 1942 Dieppe Raid had been a ‘bit of a mess’. Its nearly-four tonne towing capacity bears testimony to its ferocious grunt.
If the QX is decidedly Victorian in its approach to locomotion and luxuries, it is bang up-to-date in terms of driver aids. The list is long, from parking assistance to differential locks and various driving modes, including sand and snow. Suffice to say there are few situations it will find itself in that it will not negotiate safely, including dunes and off-road rock hopping. In fact, the biggest challenge QX owners are likely to face is negotiating parking garages – Infiniti swears blind it will fit into a regulation multi-story, but we suggest careful reconnaissance first.
Price R1 238 000
Engine 5552cc V8 petrol, 298kW@5800rpm, 560Nm@4000rpm
Transmission seven-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Suspension Independent double wishbone front and rear
Performance 7.5sec 0-100kph, 210kph, 14.8l/100km, 350g/km CO2
On sale Now
By - PETER FROST