When it comes to gaining a foothold in the local SUV market, the Infiniti FX faces an uphill battle. Not only does this newcomer’s pricing place it in the same sort of league as SUVs from the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, but it also occupies a niche that few potential buyers are sure about. The FX, you see, can best be described as a premium crossover. It’s not quite an SUV, but it does boast an AWD system.
Moreover, the styling of the FX is a tad, well, unusual. Personally, I like the look of the vehicle, but it is clear that some people find it too far from the SUV norm to be comfortable with.
I believe the FX designers are to be commended for the fact that, in a segment where too many vehicles look similar, its styling is truly unique and eye-catching. And it’s difficult to fault the on-road performance of the FX30d S. The 2993cc V6 diesel engine is wonderfully smooth and refined. Although there was a bit of lag when accelerating from standstill, it performed well overall.
With 175 kW of power and 550 Nm of torque on tap, it felt sporty and nimble – a pleasant surprise, considering its size. Handling was also good. The FX remained composed when going through corners, with little body roll.
To get the most out of the FX30d S, though, the seven-speed automatic gearbox had to be slipped into manual mode, and the suspension switched to “sport”. Once this was done, the FX felt far livelier than any high-riding vehicle with a three-litre oilburner has any right to be. Gearshifts were quick and the vehicle felt very surefooted in the corners.
Judged purely on the merits of the drive it offers, the FX is an impressive vehicle. The problem is that its premium price forces it to compete against the German brands – and South African buyers have a great affinity for the Teutonic marques.
Infiniti faces the difficult task of convincing buyers to swap their German vehicles for an unusually styled vehicle from a relatively unknown Japanese manufacturer (much like Lexus and Toyota, Infiniti is the luxury arm of Nissan), and then asking them to pay a premium price for it. Potential buyers will perhaps scoff at paying such a high price for “just another Nissan”, especially once they notice all the Nissan switchgear found inside the vehicle.
BY THE NUMBERS
Price: Starting from R701 200
Engine: Three-litre, six-cylinder, turbodiesel
Power/Torque: 175 kW/550 Nm
Gearbox: Seven-speed auto
Drive system: AWD
Economy: 9 litres per 100km
Fuel tank: 90 litres
Luggage space: 410 – 1305 litres