Nobody will ever accuse the Infiniti QX80 of being marketed for shrinking violets. It’s a behemoth of a thing, with whale-like sides, a fasciadesigned for hoovering up shoals of fish, and gigantic 22-inch alloys shod with 275/50 low-profile rubber. Infiniti is a classy cousin of Nissan, and, as Lexus so successfully does with Toyota, shares a platform across models. Here the QX80 partners with the toughas- teak Nissan Patrol, making it a worthy rival for the Lexus LX570, itself based on the Land Cruiser 200. Given the Patrol’s next-generational bloat, we’re talking imposing: the QX80 is 5305mm long, 2266mm wide and has a 3075mm wheelbase to justify its eight-seater status.
The single model, aimed to nab growth in South Africa’s premium SUV sector, is an extravagantly skinned ladder-frame chassis, coupled to tech-laden suspension and damping componentry to deal with the 2.8-tonne kerb weight. Naturally, it comes with enough power to upstage most other road users: in this case, a stonking 5.7-litre naturally-aspirated V8, ever-eager to rev to the 5000rpm needed to dish out 298kW and 560Nm through a buttery seven-speed auto. Adding to the QX80’s strange bag of attributes is a multi-stage 4WD rotary control for different on- and off-road conditions, a low-range gearbox and a rear diff lock.
Interior fit and finish is immaculate. The model we drove, trimmed in Stratford Burl wood-alike and grainy graphite leather, has an over-the-top checklist of convenience features: starting with an 8-inch touchscreen interface for sound and navigation, and access to the Around View camera monitors which provide views of the world outside, 15-speaker Bose sound system, and dual 7-inch monitors so that the second row can play individual DVDs through wireless headphones, Plus (of course) intelligent cruise control and a cohort of safety gizmos − from airbags and ABS, to traction-control systems, lane-departure warning, intelligent brake assist, and hill-descent control. The buttonry and controls are easy to understand and in surprisingly good taste.
To read this article in full, buy this issue from selected stores or you can also subscribe here.