Infiniti QX80

The giant whale of Japan

"Infiniti QX80 is in a league of jumbo players"

"QX56 becomes QX80"

"QX80 is a giant whale in disguise due to its massive front grille," said Ershad

"The overall drive experience was joyful"

Here we have come with another Japanese tale. Our tester is a mighty full sized SUV which for time sake has a name QX80 under the Infiniti badge. Now this thing has a strange history. First launched in 1996 with the name QX4, the car ran on a uni-body Nissan Pathfinder platform. Years passed and the second generation was announced as the QX56 and this time it was based on a Nissan Armada platform. Later in 2011, we saw the almost final version on a Nissan Patrol setup. Technically, it was the upscale version of Patrol sharing the same engine. To add more to the oddity, in 2014, Infiniti underwent an overall model name shake-up and hence QX56 becomes QX80.

Exterior
QX80 seeks a lot of attention and it can be due to its huge size and somewhat strange look. I, for instance, was not impressed at first sight but gradually, kinda started liking it. I could be wrong, but for me the QX80 is a giant whale in disguise due to its massive front grille and those remarkably shaped headlights. We noticed a square outline in the rear side with some curvy appointments within. With high ground clearance and a long body, the car was certainly a full sized SUV.

Interior
QX80, as expected from Infiniti, is not shy to offer the best of premium feel. Getting inside wasn't a hassle as I thought thanks to the low, wide step on both sides. Once inside, we got to see padded layers all around wrapped in the finest beige leather. We see many real wood appointments on the dash, center console, doors and even around the steering.  The center console looked elegant with a mix of wood, control knobs and switches, touch display and a round analog clock. Front leather seats were nicely bolstered and spacious. Leg and head room in the second row was impressive and the two seats were separated by a storage console. We have an option to add a child seat instead. Easy access to the third row is enabled with the touch of a button (from the driver's seat) or a small lever in the second row. Reasonable space in the last row can best suit children. Cargo space is on the lower side but it's common in this league, and we can add more space by sprawling down the last row.

Drivetrain
Under the hood is the Patrol engine - a 5.6 liter V8 with 'VVEL' variable valve timing and 'DIG' direct injection that can deliver a whopping 400hp and an impressive 560Nm torque. It's got a 7 speed automatic transmission gearbox and an AWD system. For off road purpose we have traction control and High/Low/Auto gear options. 

Features
As for safety features, we found a list of obvious additions and they are  lane departure warning, lane departure prevention, blind spot warning, intelligent cruise control, distance control assist, ABS, intelligent brake assist with forward collision warning, stability control and multiple airbags. 

Infotainment system was nice and simple. Center console is incorporated with an 8 inch WVGA color touchscreen display which has a standard Infiniti Hard Drive Navigation System for route guidance. Touch feedback wasn't bad and was easy to use. Other gadgets include a standard Bluetooth, DVD/MP3/AUX feeds put together with a Bose 2-channel, 13-speaker premium audio system. To entertain the second row passengers we have a set of 7 inch color monitors. 

Driving Impressions
First things first; the 7 speed automatic gearbox was smooth and quick in gear shifts. The car was nicely insulated from road and wind noise and the engine sound suggested a sense of refinement. While we thought ‘parking' could be an issue due the car's massive size, it barely bothered us. Cameras all around thanks to Infiniti's Around View Monitor which uses 4 vehicle-mounted cameras to create a 360° view displayed in the dash screen. Steering motion was very light and it left us less concerned about the size of the car as the feedback was direct and effortless. It was basically a firm drive on road and as we moved quicker, the ride went smoother; hence, we appreciate the ride quality. 

Our tester had the optional 22 inch wheels and we didn't feel any jitteriness while passing over speed bumps. Brakes are good enough to keep things in check. Body lean on corners looks so much reduced, thanks to "Hydraulic Body Motion Control (HDMC). HDMC is seen in the Patrol as well. Here with the help of hydraulic cylinders, the system adjusts roll stiffness by balancing the fluid through passive weight transfer during normal driving. The AWD system is intelligent and power is smartly distributed to each wheel in different proportions depending on the requirement, which is determined by the nature of terrain. We spent sometime driving on gravel surface and also picked a short route packed with rocky slopes. With tractions off and using 4H and 4L modes we exercised the regular drill. The overall drive experience was joyful. Any distraction caused due to QX80's awkward styling can be compensated by the plush interiors and a nice feel inside. 

Verdict
Infiniti QX80 is in a league of Jumbo players. Starting with the class topper Lexus LX570, we also have the Cadillac Escalade and Mercedes GL. In terms of pricing, QX80 is cheaper than Lexus and Mercedes. It has a better output power rating than Lexus, 7 speed automatic and has a decent fuel economy rate. It's a matter of falling in love with this model or may I say "getting used to it and gradually liking it". The main challenge, however, is to keep a distance from its cousin Nissan Patrol. With almost the same luxury feel and drive as the Patrol, I think the prospect QX80 customer should fall for the mighty Infiniti badge. 

Pros: Ride quality, premium feel inside, handling, cornering is easy, cabin space, smooth engine
Cons: Awkward styling, similar to Nissan Patrol
Rivals: Cadillac Escalade, Lexus LX570, Mercedes Benz GL Class
Engine: 5.6 liter V8 engine, 400 hp, 560 Nm
Transmission: 7 speed automatic, AWD
Performance: 0-100 kph: 7.4 sec, 12.5 L /100 km, Top speed: 200 kph
Curb Weight: 2795 kg
3.5 STARS
One word: Jumbo

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