Infiniti FX50/M30d S-Premium Review

By: Nathan Ponchard

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Infiniti FX Infiniti FX Infiniti FX
Infiniti FX Rear Infiniti FX Rear Infiniti FX Rear
Infiniti G37 Convertible Infiniti G37 Convertible Infiniti G37 Convertible
Infiniti G37 Coupe Infiniti G37 Coupe Infiniti G37 Coupe

Infiniti in Oz - Nissan's luxury offshoot dips a toe in the local market.

Infiniti FX50/M30d S-Premium Review
Infiniti FX

 

Infiniti FX50 S-Premium/M30d S-Premium

It must have been hard for the brass at Infiniti to watch the runaway success that has been Lexus. Back in '89, when both upscale Japanese brands were starting out, it could've gone either way, except that Lexus produced a benchmark luxury sedan and Infiniti didn't.

Trainspotters will rightly point out that the original Infiniti Q45 was actually sold in Australia (as a Nissan) from 1993 to '98. But the reality was that only 32 cars were shifted - making the Q45 about as popular as farting in a lift. That said, Infiniti sold 200,000 cars globally last year - up from 140,000 in 2011 - and in contrast to its previously US-centric focus, the brand is now sold in over 70 markets worldwide. And Australia has just become one of those.

The first two out of the blocks are the FX 'crossover' 4WD and the M luxury sedan, followed shortly by the G coupe and convertible (December). The marketing line is 'inspired performance', and as General Manager Kevin Snell pointed out, "we will not try to be all things to all people, but everything to some people". And that "everything" is a mix of cutting-edge tech, slick styling and driver-oriented dynamics.

We tried an M30d S-Premium sedan first - the top-spec M with four-wheel steering, 20-inch alloys (wearing 245/40R20 Bridgestone Potenzas) and a 3.0-litre turbodiesel V6 tied to a seven-speed auto. I'm not entirely sold on the outside (the rear-end is puffy and, somehow, 20s look small-ish on it), but the M's inside is outstanding. As a four-person plushmobile, it's very impressive, though the 'Infiniti' stitching on the front seats is gauche.

Chassis-wise, the M uses Nissan's front-midship (FM) platform, which delivers a far sportier drive than its styling might suggest. The 4WS S-Premium, in particular, is very keen to dive into corners and feels smaller than its 4945mm length and 2900mm wheelbase would lead you to believe. The steering is super-sharp at low speeds and in tight corners, yet becomes much more measured as speeds rise. What it doesn't do, though, is give an entirely natural and consistent impression of what the front wheels are always doing, which is a shame because the chassis is a sweetly-balanced, keenly-agile cracker. And even on 20s, the well-damped ride is surprisingly comfortable and quiet. Pity the ESP is overly reactive.

The M offers three engines - a 235kW 3.7-litre V6 (M37), a 268kW hybrid with a 3.5 petrol V6 and lithium-ion battery pack (M35h), and the diesel (M30d). The petrol and hybrid are revvy, if a little grainy-sounding, while the smooth diesel has a velvety, punchy bottom-end but not a whole lot up top. The V8 M50 won't be coming here because it's left-hook only, but we do get that engine in the stunning FX50.

If any Infiniti is going to succeed here, it's this one. The marketing nerds call it "sports-car proportions with the stance of an SUV" and, for once, they're right. It's a knock-out. Expect to see an FX in an Aussie hip-hop video some time next week.

We drove the flagship FX50 S-Premium, though GT and S grades are offered in the FX37 and FX30d. And it's an amazingly agile beast, with a wieldy little three-spoke steering wheel and loads of grip on massive 265/45R21s. The 4WD system can send up to 100 percent of drive to the rear wheels, and that stat sums up the FX50 perfectly!

If only coarse-surface tyre roar didn't drown out the rather subdued V8 soundtrack. If any V8 4WD deserves some earth-trembling bass, it's the FX50.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

Infiniti FX50 S-premium

Engine 5026cc V8, DOHC, 32v

Power 287kW @ 6500rpm

Torque 500Nm @ 4400rpm

Weight 1992kg

Gearbox 7-speed automatic

0-100km/h 5.8sec (claimed)

Top Speed 250km/h (claimed)

Price $114,900

 

Infiniti M30d S-premium

Engine 2993cc V6, DOHC, 24v, turbodiesel

Power 175kW @ 3750rpm

Torque 550Nm @ 1750rpm

Weight 1826kg

Gearbox 7-speed automatic

0-100km/h 6.9sec (claimed)

Top Speed 250km/h (claimed)

Price $99,900

 

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