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.