Su­per-size me

Chal­leng­ing looks, big thirst and no diesel op­tion make the eight-seater a con­spic­u­ous tar­get

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige - CHRIS RI­LEY chris.ri­ley@news.com.au

IT’S no se­cret Nissan has been strug­gling to sell its gas­guz­zling, V8-pow­ered Pa­trol.

But that hasn’t stopped its lux­ury off­shoot re­leas­ing a more ex­pen­sive and even thirstier ver­sion, in the guise of the In­finiti QX80.

The eight-seat wagon is tar­geted at the Lexus LX570, in turn a lux­ury ver­sion of the Toy­ota LandCruiser.

De­signed pri­mar­ily for the US, the Mid­dle East and steppes of Rus­sia, where petrol is the fuel of choice, the QX80 doesn’t have a diesel ver­sion.

That’s a ma­jor stum­bling block in Aus­tralia, where 90 per cent of large SUVs are diesel.

Price is another stum­bling block. Nissan re­cently slashed the Pa­trol’s price and trimmed the line-up from three to two mod­els. It now tops out at $86,000, $24,000 less than the QX80, which starts at $110,900.

Hav­ing said that, the top-ofthe-range landcruiser is $110,990 and the LX570 kicks off from $134,700.

The new QX80 comes solely in the fully equipped Pre­mium S spec and out­points the LX570 in most ar­eas, with more power and torque but iden­ti­cal fuel con­sump­tion.

It’s 28cm longer, with a 22cm longer wheel­base and that means more in­te­rior space, yet it weighs less.

The In­finiti has lash­ings of leather and wood grain trim, tri­zone cli­mate con­trol air­con, heated and cooled seats, heated steer­ing wheel, power flip rear seats and twin DVD screens.

Safety gear in­cludes six airbags, bird’s-eye-view cam­era, blind spot warn­ing, for­ward col­li­sion and lane de­par­ture warn­ing. It will also slam on the brakes if it de­tects any­thing be­hind the car when re­vers­ing.

ON THE ROAD

The QX80’s looks are

chal­leng­ing. The front re­calls a baby sperm whale, with low-set beady head­lights that ap­pear to have fallen off, only to be caught by the bumper.

Nissan de­scribes it as bold ex­te­rior de­sign and says it gives the car a sense of pres­ence. One thing’s for sure, you can’t miss it.

With the same run­ning gear as the Pa­trol, al­beit with slightly stiffer sus­pen­sion, the QX80 feels not sur­pris­ingly a lot like the lesser Nissan. The ma­jor dif­fer­ence is in fit and fin­ish and the higher level of spec­i­fi­ca­tion.

The 5.6-litre V8 kicks out a thump­ing 298kW/560Nm, 90 per cent of which is avail­able from 1600rpm. It’s hooked up to a seven-speed auto.

Weigh­ing in at 2.8 tonnes, it rolls on mas­sive 22-inch wheels.

There are four off-road modes, not that this beast is likely to see much ac­tion there.

It’s more likely to be sought for its lux­ury ap­point­ments, eight-seat ca­pac­ity and 3.5tonne pulling power — it comes with a tow­bar.

We put the QX80 through its paces in the wilds of Tas­ma­nia this week where the roads are lit­tered with road­kill — alas you can’t get a bull­bar.

It’s a re­mark­ably smooth and quiet ve­hi­cle, with a trans­mis­sion that hooks up quickly but does not pro­vide pad­dle shifters. If you want to change gears your­self, you must use the gear shifter.

The ride is elec­tron­i­cally mod­u­lated and sur­pris­ingly com­fort­able but can be jig­gly at times.

The V8 re­mains rel­a­tively quiet and even when you put the boot in it’s still rather muted.

For a big ve­hi­cle the QX80 gets mov­ing briskly and the tim­ing of gear changes is just about spot-on.

The steer­ing is re­spon­sive and the car stays flat in corners, thanks to the trick hy­draulic dampers. Ul­ti­mately some body roll comes into play, but the wagon hardly put a foot wrong in the some­times muddy and icy con­di­tions.

The brakes bite hard and the seat belts lock tight if you pull up in a hurry.

The quiet in­te­rior is due in part to the dou­ble-glazed win­dows but the Bose au­dio does not in­clude noise can­celling tech­nol­ogy, nor will you find DAB+ dig­i­tal ra­dio in the au­dio menu.

We clocked 17.2L/100km af­ter a hard day of driv­ing be­tween Ho­bart and Launce­s­ton. The maker’s of­fi­cial fuel fig­ure was achieved us­ing 98 RON pre­mium un­leaded.

With a 100-litre fuel tank it’s prob­a­bly go­ing to cost about $150 to fill, so it’s a good thing the cost of fuel is likely to be pack­aged in any lease deal. In­finiti reck­ons the cost of own­er­ship comes out less than a diesel.

VER­DICT

The In­finiti is a good tour­ing ve­hi­cle but the lack of a diesel is a big over­sight. And the In­finiti be­comes an even harder sell when you can get a top-of-the­line Pa­trol for $24,000 less.

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