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Review all the way from DUBAI
Introduction and Summary
To commence the celebrations of Dubai winning the Expo 2020, people swarmed the streets with air horns and party sprays as they stopped on the side of the road to watch the spectacular fireworks display at the Burj Khalifa. With traffic grinding to a complete halt, and fellow road users getting agitated with every passing minute; we couldn’t help but feel sorry for them.
While we were seated in the lap of luxury, and had the 2014 Infiniti QX80 cater to all our needs, including a banging 15 speaker Bose sound system, heated and cooled seats, and a cool box for our refreshments, there was no amount of traffic that could have fazed us anytime soon.
For the minority who were actually fond of the design, you may go ahead and do a little celebratory dance. Formerly known as the Inifiniti QX56, the gargantuan Nissan Patrol based SUV is back and looks identical to the previous year model. Oh, apart from the badge on the back reading QX80, of course.
Designers at Infiniti have taken the elegant design of the Nissan Patrol and quite frankly ruined it. No matter how long we stood in front of the car and wished the design would grow on us, the awkward forehead at the end of the hood, the ginormous grille, and awkward headlights weren’t to our liking.
With a length of 5,290mm and a height of 1,925mm, complemented by massive 9 spoke 22inch alloys, protruding wheel arches and prominent chrome outlined air vents, the sides of the QX80 are probably its strongest area in terms of design.
Comfort and Practicality
The interior, in usual Infiniti flare, is home to ample amounts of soft leather and brilliantly matched wood trim. To ensure the ideal driving and seating position is achieved, the Infiniti QX80 is equipped with a 10 way power adjustable driver’s seat and 8 way power adjustable passenger seat. To further enhance comfort, a Tri-zone temperature control system is also present which allows the driver, front seat passenger and rear passengers to each set their desired A/C temperature without affecting the other.
At no cost whatsoever is comfort sacrificed in the QX80. The second row is equipped with two large, comfortable and well bolstered captain seats along with a massive centre arm rest, while even passengers in the last row have the option to electrically recline their seats. From the looks of it, the QX80 tried winning the love of the Americans with its blatant scattering of cup holders and bottle holders – 12 to be precise!
Cargo space with the 3rd row seats up measures in at a decent 470.1 litres, however, should the 3rd and 2nd row seats be folded flat using a small switch on the centre console, a whopping 1,489.5 litres and 3,171.5 litres of space is available. One thing’s for sure then, shopping trips to Ikea won’t ever be a challenge.
The interior does have its own quirks though. For starters, the TV screens placed behind the front headrests can’t be controlled from the front seats. Sure, they have a remote control and wireless headsets, but what if the passenger in the back is a toddler who doesn’t have a clue about how to operate the system and just wants to watch their cartoons? Secondly, pairing a phone to the Bluetooth system is a lot more complicated than initially anticipated. An initial pairing is carried out which connects as a ‘phone device’ and allows calls to be made and received, however, if music has to be streamed off the phone, the whole pairing process has to be done again to connect as a ‘music device’.
Infiniti’s attention to safety is apparent in the QX80. Apart from the usual Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Departure Warning, Tire Pressure Monitoring System, Adaptive Cruise Control and Forward Collision Warning, the QX80 is packed with some interesting safety features. The Intelligent Brake Assist (IBA) analyses the vehicle’s speed and the distance of the vehicle ahead and accordingly automatically applies the brakes if the driver doesn’t respond in time. Additionally, the Distance Control Assist (DCA) system makes use of the sensors located at the front of the car and intuitively prompts the driver to release the throttle and apply the brakes as needed in slowing traffic. A few minutes with these technologies and you begin to accept the bitter truth of self driving cars being just around the corner.
Performance, Ride and Handling
To match its size, Infiniti’s QX80 packs a massive 5.6 litre V8 engine under the hood. Mated to a 7 speed transmission, the QX80 produces 400 horsepower and 560 Nm of torque. To put into perspective, the significantly more expensive Lexus LX570 only produces 383 horsepower and 546 Nm of torque while being mated to a 6 speed transmission.
With ample amounts of power on tap, the QX80 never feels underpowered; be it on the streets or on the dunes. The hydraulic body motion control stiffens the suspension on corners to reduce body roll and also offers a smoother ride over uneven surfaces. With speed sensitive power steering, an exceptionally smooth ride and an around view monitor, driving the mammoth around town and in tight spaces is a lot easier than you’d think.
When entering the desert, the Infiniti QX80 does get its fair share of awkward glares from owners of the famous Nissan Patrol, Toyota Land Cruiser and Jeep Wrangler. However, with ample amounts of low end torque and a nonexistent front overhang, onlookers stand bedazzled as the QX80 carves its way around the desert, dune after dune, absolutely effortlessly.
A couple of factors do limit the QX’s potential when weighed against the competition though. The weighty rear overhang is one of the main factors that limits speed when descending a dune as the last thing you want to hear is a thud and see your bumper in the rear view mirror. Another factor that limits the QX’s ability is that the suspension can’t be raised if the need for greater ground clearance arises, as is possible in the Lexus LX570. And finally, though the Infiniti QX80 is capable of towing up to 2,000 kilograms, it doesn’t come close to the Lexus’s 3,175 kilograms and the Lincoln Navigator’s 4,082 kilograms potential.
On the whole then, did we enjoy our time with the 2014 Infiniti QX80? Yes, but we fail to see why anybody would opt for the QX over a top of the line Nissan Patrol. The Patrol has a long line of heritage, nearly identical features, looks a lot nicer and oh, did we forget to mention it’s also cheaper?