Words & Images Andrew Middleton
When the beast arrived at my doorstep, I was left agape, possibly mimicking the expression on this Infiniti QX80’s bionic face. In a game of top trumps, nothing much comes close. It’s as long as three men lying flat, as heavy as three Suzuki Jimnys, and uglier than Godzilla himself.
The Americans even refer to the Infiniti QX80 as ‘a truck’. But is it really no more than a pumped-up beast in a flashy suit? Is the Infiniti a symbol of a gigantic inferiority complex, or can SA’s largest SUV be put to good use? We took it for a blast to find out.
First impressions on the road and it feels like I’ve been time-bombed back to the Nineties. That was an unfortunate era when good music was being phased out for boy-band rubbish, and good-looking cars were being dumped for refrigerators on wheels; and it was also the beginning of the end for the big natasp V8 petrol.
That said, Nissan’s premium Infiniti brand is there to make a profit, so there must be enough oil sheiks and gangsta rappers out there who can afford to buy and run these monsters.
Climb in and be struck by a sea of buttons, and leather so thick and soft that your seats could well be straight out of a Hollywood celeb’s lounge. Everything is powered, too: from your steering wheel to the tailgate, and even to the third row of seats that accommodates three people. (Which makes the QX80 that rare thing in the passenger sector: an eight-seater.)
The entire vehicle is larger than life; and, at just under three tonnes, doesn’t suggest itself as a candidate for the local 4×4 trail. But low-range gearing indicates that it should have at least some off-road ability, so we had to see for ourselves.