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2018 Infiniti QX50 review

The new version of the SUV offers a high-tech alternative to its German rivals, with Infiniti claiming it’s its best car yet.

Introduction

As the premium arm of Nissan, Infiniti is still trying to make a mark on the British market following its debut back in 2009.

After the model was one of the first to be debuted by Infiniti almost a decade ago, the latest version of the QX50 has been released and it aims to offer a more high-tech model in the crammed premium SUV segment.

With stand-out looks and an innovative engine, the QX50 is also built on a unique platform that no other model in the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance uses.

But can this latest version of the mid-size SUV draw customers away from the likes of BMW, Audi and Mercedes? We take a look…

Performance

Infiniti has been very forward-thinking with its new petrol engine here, as it’s the world’s first variable compression ratio engine – which in simple terms means that it has the output of a 2.0-litre petrol but the torque and efficiency of a four-cylinder diesel.

The 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol here produced 268bhp and 380Nm of torque – which is streets ahead of one of its closest rivals, the BMW X3 20i. The sprint to 60mph is over in 6.3 seconds – faster than many of its competitors – and it can go on to a top speed of 143mph. Infiniti has also confirmed that there are no plans to offer diesel units, so the efficient petrol units will be the way to go. The engine is paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission and either four-wheel or front-wheel-drive set-up.

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Ride & Handling

With the QX50’s ‘drive-by-wire’ set-up – which, rather than having a mechanical system for the steering, is all electronic – steering feel can be lacking, especially at slower speeds. The system can independently steer the wheels hundreds of times a second, meaning handling should be more accurate.

With the new chassis and overall design the QX50 offers a very comfortable ride, the suspension soaking up the majority of the roughest patches on the test route in California. And thanks to the dynamic, noise-cancelling engine mounts, there was very little noise making its way into the cabin – making for a calm driving experience.

Interior & Equipment

The QX50 is still under wraps in terms of its overall finish and what equipment will be on offer – with it slated to come to the UK later this year or at the start of 2019 – but what can be said is that it feels well built and comes with a lot of quality fixtures.

Material-wise, the QX50 cabin has hand-stitched leather and alcantara upholstery as well as good-quality interior plastics, to ensure that it feels on a par with its rivals.

The interior layout is almost identical to that of its saloon sibling, the Q50, and with that you get two touchscreen displays in the central console to control the infotainment and the climate control. An optional extra that we tried was the ProPilot semi-autonomous system, which steers and controls the speed of the vehicle for you in traffic to help reduce driver fatigue.

Infiniti has focused on making the QX50 more spacious than its rivals, and with the new platform it offers 895 litres with the rear bench in the upright position. The boot can be extended by either moving the rear seats forward or folding them down – with 1,699 litres on offer with the rear seats flat.

Cost

With official pricing and specification yet to be revealed, it is estimated that Infiniti will try to undercut all the major rivals with a starting price of around £35,000.

As the model has yet to be tested on European soil, it is not known what the QX50 will return in terms of fuel usage and emissions – so we can’t quite tell how the new engine set-up will fare in terms of running costs.

Verdict

There’s a lot to like about the QX50, including the funky, angular looks, the technological advancements and the new powertrain set-up that could yet revolutionise internal combustion engines. Although there are some details that are yet to be disclosed, owing to the car not being officially on sale yet, people could well be tempted away from the rival German models because of the Infiniti being a bit different and cheaper. 

Test drive a new Infiniti today
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