The 2014 Infiniti QX80 – Owns the Territory
The battle of Goliath and David
Last week, we had the opportunity to test drive the all-new 2014 Infiniti QX80. Looking at the photos the petrol-heads among you may argue that it is actually QX56, and I have made a typo. But no I haven’t. It may look like the same third-generation QX that you have seen on the roads or driveways of your neighbors. However, for 2014, Infiniti simply rebadged it to QX80 from QX56! Considering the standard huge mill of 5.6 liters V8, QX56 made more sense.
Organic Design 6.5
The first thing that you can’t shake off is the Goliath-like size. As I gathered opinions the neighborhood, some saw a rhino approaching towards them, some saw a dolphin-inspired design. This could be true in all regards as design and appearance liking is a personal thing. Nevertheless, this Organic design is a departure from the old boxy styled QX. However, from the exterior standpoint, I would like to thank Infiniti for not adding the ubiquitous LED bar-strip, Thank you very much Infiniti!
Climb up the QX80 and you’ll be seated in the command position. Everything you touch and see is super-size. A glance across the dashboard swathed with full leather top and acres of polished Tuscan Burl wood makes you overwhelmed with the appointed luxury features such as the centerpiece exquisite analog clock. Everything is still in reach as the usual buttons are large and minimalist at the same time. The other functions can be accessed from the 8-inch center screen or via buttons and toggle switches placed on the gorgeous wood/leather steering wheel.
The vast center console gives way to broad transmission tunnel, again devoid of limitless buttons or gizmos. In fact, it just houses a neat looking 7-speed auto gear lever done in leather/metal and a flip cover to conceal the twin cup holders. Open the sofa cushion sized armrest and there lies a cool-box, should you like your drinks chilled.
The front seat & the mid-row are similar to a business class in a jetliner. The configuration is 2+2 and 3 in the rear. In the mid row, you get two Captain Chairs and a center console just like up front with a vast armrest on top along with another cooler box. During the test drive, I fancied an opportunity to be chauffeur driven. With thick plush carpet under your feet, just relax and kick back on beautifully sculpted leather seats with Infiniti embroidered on them. Not a bad place to be at all.
Driving Dynamics 6.5
This Goliath comes with an aptly size powerhouse of 5.6l, DOHC 32valve, V8. With all the modern technologies such as Direct Injection Gasoline and Variable Valve Timings and opening, together it churns outs organic 400hp @ 5800 Rpm with road shredding torque of 413 lb-ft @ 4,000 Rpm. The transmission is a smooth shifting electronically controlled 7-speed automatic with Adaptive Shift Control (ASC). This allows driver-adaptive learning algorithm, senses driving style and adjusts automatic shifting accordingly. Manual-shift mode offers sequentially selectable manual gearshifts and Downshift Rev Matching. Even though the car curb weight is approximately 2.6 tons, the car still shows its athleticism and easily makes a dash of 0-60 in approx. 7 seconds along with a delicious V8 snarl.
Though quite imposing, surprisingly it’s not difficult to maneuver around the town as we found the turning circle is just adequate. The QX80 rides tall, 9 inches above the ground, complemented with the massive 22 inch spoke aluminum alloy rims wrapped in 275/50R all-season rubber. Naturally, that leaves a lot of void from the ground reality. You hardly notice on what type of surface you are driving as the independent double-wishbone design, and an automatic rear leveling system provides a pretty compliant ride. Our tester also came fitted with an advanced Hydraulic Body Motion Control system which helps to reduce body roll on high-speed turns.
During our test drive stint, we took the car for a spin in the desert. Again, the big torque engine was plowing the car easily up and down the dunes as suspension travel is automatically controlled by hydraulic chambers integrated into each shock absorber. Yet this AWD is not fully functioning 4WD. Though there are pre-selective situations like Snow/ Tow mode, and you can dial into 4H or 4L.
Safety Most 9.0
Here is some strange mix of experiences we encountered because of the available safety features we found in abundance. And as a matter-of-fact, these features were bit annoying initially as it was hard to get adjusted to the computer-aided driving. However, truth to be told, all the nannies actually made me a better driver by curbing my bad driving habits into a strict-to-follow-regimen. Yes, it reminded back to the same time when we all go through driving test to obtain a driver’s license. You try changing lane without flagging down the indicator, and the nanny will promptly scold you as Lane Departure Warning (LDW) with audible warning wakes you up as you start to drift out of your lane, and Lane Departure Prevention (LDP) lightly applies the brakes make you realize what you are doing. Annoying? Yes! But who is wrong here?
Distance Control Assist (DCA) same as radar aided cruise control has a high threshold though. Even at a minimum distance, it can easily accommodate another unwanted car in front of you as per prevalent behaviors of drivers here in UAE.
Forward Collision Warning (FCW). Utilizing a laser rangefinder, this available feature helps alert the driver of an imminent collision by providing a visual and an audible warning. This on-hand active safety feature continuously monitors and analyzes closing speeds to a vehicle ahead. If the driver does not adequately respond to the Forward Collision Warning and a collision cannot be avoided, IBA will automatically engage the brakes to help reduce collision speed and impact, thus mitigating the consequences of the accident. Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) with Traction-Control System (TCS), Blind Spot Warning helps alert the driver to a vehicle detected in the blind spot area. This is not the end, and it can go on and on. What is important here, is getting used to it if you think that you should go ahead and use them in your daily d otherwise they can get annoying as well so thankfully you have an option to make them go asleep by deactivating them as desired.
Value, Elegantly Wasted 7.0
What is the luxury? Perhaps one can define premium as ultimate or high quality but sometimes even the smallest and cheapest element can add value in our lives and momentarily be deemed as the luxury! Off all the things available we found that today’s most important element is possibly a USB media hub. However, for some unknown reasons, the availability is scarce. You may consider this as missing luxury even though it’s not an expensive item but quite essential. There are two large 7inch DVD screen mounted behind the front and passenger seat’s headrest, but they are not in HD. You may not call it premium as now every mobile comes with minimum HD if not Full HD!
Infiniti has different strokes about QX80. It’s a car supreme for covering continents. In past four years, I made two grueling trips to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and back in my 2007 Ford Explorer. Each trip was about 5000km or more in just 12 days. I always thought about a car-like QX80 to cover different type’s road patches without breaking a sweat. Not that I did not enjoy my trips in Ford Explorer, but it’s a thought of being rewarded in comfort (read luxury). Infiniti QX80 starts at a luxury price tag of AED275000. Tick all the boxes of all things wanted, you’ll be writing a steep cheque of AED330000. The QX80 has got a quite a competition with the Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator, Lexus 570 and Mercedes GL. All of them are has been updated. The challenge the Infiniti QX80 is facing essentially is not from the aforementioned marques: even so, from within the company. That is Nissan’s own solid Patrol that stands equally tall next to the Infiniti albeit with a humbled badge! Cheaper and more capable Off Road it is undoubtedly their best seller. Legend has it that Goliath lost the battle to David.