SPECS AND VER­DICT Model En­gine Trans­mis­sion

Friday - - Motoring - QX80 5.6-litre V8 Sev­en­speed auto, AWD 400bhp @ 5,800rpm 560Nm @ 4,000rpm 200kph 7.3 seconds Dh288,000 (base) Highly re­fined, lux­u­ri­ous cabin Ex­te­rior styling needs im­prov­ing

in the cor­ners is ex­tra­or­di­nary. That’s down to the in­de­pen­dent dou­ble wish­bone front and rear sus­pen­sion (with Dual Flow Path twin tube shock ab­sorbers, sta­biliser bars and au­to­matic rear self­lev­el­ling sys­tem) aided by the Hy­draulic Body Mo­tion Con­trol sys­tem. A wob­bly ride this is not. Sure, the 275/50 all-sea­son per­for­mance tyres scream their lungs out at the very sight of a turn, but they dig in deep to keep you on the straight and nar­row. The high­s­tiff­ness frame struc­ture en­hances ride com­fort and re­duces road noise and vi­bra­tion.

It’s clear, then, that com­par­isons with lum­ber­ing cetaceans are only skin-deep – un­der the blub­ber lies a very tal­ented SUV. Its ap­proach and de­par­ture an­gles mean you can head off-road, too, as it packs a proper 4x4 two-speed trans­fer case. The snarling V8 is also a good re­minder of its po­tency. How­ever, to the un­trained eye this one is iden­ti­cal to the pre­vi­ous model – but look closer and you just might spot the tiny dif­fer­ences. First of all, it gains a new up­per grille de­sign and a re­vised front fas­cia, which houses new LED head­lights, LED turn sig­nals and LED fog lights, while the new bumper gets flush-mounted sonar sen­sors. You get a new wheel de­sign too (14-spoke 22in forged alu­minium al­loys) and three new ex­te­rior colours – Her­mosa Blue, Graphite Shadow and Ma­jes­ticWhite.

The cabin, which can seat seven adults, is swathed in leather and wood trim. New are theWheat or Graphite leather-ap­pointed seats, while the pre­vi­ous Tus­can Burl trim has been ditched for a Mocha Burl, which has a heav­ier, richer wood grain. What’s more, there is am­ple leg- and head­room for first-, sec­on­dand third-row pas­sen­gers. ome of the switchgear is de­cid­edly Al­tima-like, which is a bit of a shame, but on the tech­nol­ogy front, the QX80 packs a punch. Ad­vanced High Beam As­sist (this can read on­com­ing or up­com­ing traf­fic to au­to­mat­i­cally dip high beams to the low beam set­ting and comes stan­dard on all mod­els) and the Pre­dic­tive For­ward Col­li­sionWarn­ing sys­tem (which works by warn­ing the driver of risks that lie beyond his or her for­ward field of vi­sion and is stan­dard on the Lux­ury Grade trim) are both use­ful new ad­di­tions. The lat­ter can sense the rel­a­tive ve­loc­ity and dis­tance of a ve­hi­cle di­rectly ahead and of the ve­hi­cle in front of the pre­ced­ing one. Three-blink one-touch turn sig­nals round off the new tech­nol­ogy, while an ex­ten­sive suite of ad­vance safety sys­tems such as Front Emer­gency Brak­ing, Front Col­li­sionWarn­ing Sys­tems, Blind Spot Warn­ing, Blind Spot In­ter­ven­tion, Lane De­par­ture Warn­ing and Lane De­par­ture Preven­tion sys­tems should keep you safe and sound.

I wouldn’t want to buy one my­self, but I can see the ap­peal of In­finiti’s flag­ship; it drives well, has a very com­fort­able and welle­quipped in­te­rior and prices start from just Dh288,000. I just hope the next gen­er­a­tion does away with the whale-like face.

Com­par­isons with those cetaceans are only skindeep. Un­der the blub­ber lies a very tal­ented SUV

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