Infiniti FX30D - car review
"That's the first one of those I've seen," said the old fella with the bright red nose and the blood-shot eye. "Me too," I replied. Where he appeared from I've no idea, I turned to lock the door, turned back to ask where he'd heard of Infiniti, but he'd vanished.
That, Infiniti hopes, is not the predicted sales path as it finally starts to take the British marketplace seriously. For around three years now dealerships have been materialising across the country, the aim for the company is to open 12 centres. As yet, that has not happened, seven are open, leaving five for the future, although the cities have been selected.
There's always a lot of spin when it comes to news from companies to chivvy up the investors and Infiniti is no different. A version of the FX on test here is available named after F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel, only 50 are available and you'll need six figures to wrap your mitts around the carbon fibre steering wheel. That does little to draw buyers to the product but an announcement just before Christmas could prove to be a game-changer for Infiniti's UK aspirations.Nissan Sunderland has been chosen as the site for production of a new, smaller Infiniti model designed in London. It means curtains for production of the new Nissan compact car at the Sunderland plant, but another 280 jobs are expected to be created at the factory with production beginning in 2015.One word that could not be used to describe the FX30d Premium GT on test here is smaller. With a footprint close to two metres wide and five metres long this is a car of generous girth and despite this it manages to appear athletic. Huge wheels, a grille large enough to barbecue a whole cow on and windows dark enough to conceal those within, it is certainly a statement car.
And it needs to be, for the market to competes in is a fierce one indeed. BMW, Porsche, Audi and Mercedes all offer big SUVs and wear badges that buyers with £50k to spend want to be seen in. Lexus, despite the undoubted quality of its RX range has struggled to make any real inroads into the sector, so the FX is going to need all the bells and whistles if it is to win over a brand-driven audience.Luckily, Infiniti seems to specialise in campanology and the FX has more equipment than it seems possible to fit into one car, even one as big as this.The boot opens electrically, the gear-shift paddles on the steering column are made of magnesium no less and the driver's seat has settings to squeeze you a little tighter should you driving style demand it. The sat nav's instructions are easy to follow and the cruise control is said to be intelligent - it monitors the distance between you and the car ahead, easing off the power as necessary.
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This could easily become a list of wondrous things discovered and yet to be found within the cavernous cabin of the FX, but sadly there are flaws too. For a start the sweeping roofline that adds to the athletic look of the car also impedes it usefulness when carrying larger items. So much so that a table that arrived in a big Volvo had to return in the family hatchback - a Vauxhall Astra. The rear bench could be a little deeper and I could do with a degree in engineering to fit the parcel shelf, which seems far too complex for what is merely a furry boot lid.
A gaping wound in the Infiniti line-up and one that surely slowed its growth in the European market was the omission of a diesel engine. According to Infiniti's own literature eight out of every 10 buyers in this market sector say they would not consider any other type of fuel. Just as well then that this V6 diesel unit is now available. Built in conjunction with Daimler and Renault it does a fine job of shifting the 2.2 tonne FX along at a determined pace, it's no sports car, but 60mph is breached in under nine seconds and more than 130mph is attainable should laws allow. Straight line speed aside, the FX is best suited to chasing the horizon on faster roads, where it excels. Noise intrusion is minimal and the car remains steadfast in its pursuit of your destination. On one of the bleakest nights I can remember at no time did I doubt the FX's ability to get my family and I home safely. I drove, they slept, that says it all.
Pictures of the FX do it no justice, it needs to be seen in the flesh to be appreciated. The problem is there are not enough of them about to be seen and with so few dealerships around the country the chances of seeing one in Leicestershire are slim indeed. With BMW and Audi on the doorstep it takes a certain determination to head off to Birmingham or Hull to test drive something different. But maybe something different is what you crave, if you've got £50,000 to spend that is.