In­finiti’s new QX60 has seen some de­sign tweaks, but will those take it to the top of the heap?

In­finiti seeks to keep its seven-seater SUV fresh and rel­e­vant among much im­proved com­pe­ti­tion with a mid-cy­cle re­fresh. But are the changes good enough, asks wheels’ Sony Thomas

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The In­finiti JX35, as the QX60 was called upon its in­tro­duc­tion in 2012, had us mighty im­pressed. So much so that it went on to win a three-way match with the Mercedes-Benz ML 350 and the Audi Q7. We found it to be more com­fort­able, prac­ti­cal and bet­ter kit­ted out than its ri­vals, and with that dis­tinctly curvy de­sign, ar­guably bet­ter-look­ing as well.

But four years down the line, things have changed dra­mat­i­cally in the seg­ment. The ML-Class is now the GLE-Class, which is a huge im­prove­ment over the pre­vi­ous model, and the lat­est gen­er­a­tion of the Audi Q7 is a car­ni­val of tech­nowiz­ardry. And then there’s the new Volvo XC90, which has moved the game for­ward in its own min­i­mal­ist way. So it’s a com­pletely new world out there com­pared to 2012, and it will be a lot tougher for Nis­san’s pre­mium badge to fend com­pe­ti­tion off now.

There have been changes at In­finiti too. Fol­low­ing the brand’s new nam­ing con­ven­tion, the JX35 is now the QX60 and has been up­dated a few times in be­tween. How­ever, these changes aren’t as sig­nif­i­cant as those seen in the Audi Q5, or even the GLE.

For the cur­rent model year, In­finiti has tweaked the QX60’s looks, re­fresh­ing the front and the rear. Up front, the SUV gains a larger, more dis­tinc­tive dou­ble-arch grille, and a lower air in­take with chrome gar­nish­ing in­te­grated into the bumper. The head­lights have also been up­dated, while the new LED tail lights add more char­ac­ter to the rear. Over­all, it re­mains the same curvy, well-de­tailed SUV that hides its fairly large di­men­sions well.

In­side, the QX60 re­mains a true seven-seater, with oo­dles of space in the first and sec­ond rows, and a re­al­is­ti­cally us­able third-row seat­ing. In­finiti has also thought­fully placed in­di­vid­ual AC vents for the pas­sen­gers in the last row. And the third-row seats can be con­trolled elec­tri­cally to free more space for cargo at the back.

While the cabin is roomy and well-ap­pointed with de­cid­edly up­scale leather and wood trims, it’s a bit dis­ap­point­ing to see that apart

from the ma­te­ri­als used, In­finiti has not done much to dis­tin­guish the QX60’s in­te­rior from that of the Nis­san Pathfinder with which it shares a plat­form. The styling of the dash­board in­clud­ing place­ment of switchgear is very sim­i­lar to that of the much cheaper Nis­san sib­ling. A bit more ef­fort to dif­fer­en­ti­ate it would have made it feel more spe­cial and up­mar­ket.

The 3.5-litre V6 en­gine is good for 265bhp and 336Nm of torque, which is also un­changed from what the JX35 had. While it’s a smooth and re­fined power plant over­all, there’s an up­dated ver­sion of the same block that has been an­nounced in other mar­kets for the 2017 model year. That en­gine puts out 30 horse­power and 30Nm of torque more than the en­gine avail­able here. Mated to a con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion, the V6 of­fers de­cent ac­cel­er­a­tion and suc­cess­fully keeps the char­ac­ter­is­tic drone un­der check up to cruis­ing speeds, al­though it rears its head when you de­mand full power.

There’s a Sport mode, which remaps the CVT to mimic the char­ac­ter­is­tics of a con­ven­tional au­to­matic gear­box, but it’s prob­a­bly best to leave it in Nor­mal most of the time. The sus­pen­sion of­fers a good bal­ance be­tween com­fort and agility, and in com­bi­na­tion with a re­vised steer­ing sys­tem, makes the QX60 feel like a much tauter ve­hi­cle than it is.

Al­though not packed to the brim with giz­mos as the new Audi Q7, the QX60 comes equipped with most of the es­sen­tial safety and con­ve­nience fea­tures like in­tel­li­gent cruise con­trol, For­ward Emer­gency Brak­ing with Pedes­trian De­tec­tion, Pre­dic­tive For­ward Col­li­sion Warn­ing, Backup Col­li­sion In­ter­ven­tion and Around View Mon­i­tor. The styling en­hance­ments and the up­dated tech­nol­ogy can­not hide the fact that the QX60 is start­ing to get a bit long in the tooth. While the changes could help In­finiti buy time for a cou­ple of years more, noth­ing short of a com­pletely new model will do to keep it fight­ing fit in a seg­ment that has some of the most tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced ve­hi­cles in the world. But with prices start­ing at Dh185,000, the re­freshed QX60 con­tin­ues to be a great choice in the pre­mium sev­enseater SUV class.

In­side, the QX60 re­mains a true seven-seater, with oo­dles of SPACE in the first and sec­ond rows, and a re­al­is­ti­cally US­ABLE third-row seat­ing. The cabin is spa­cious, with UP­SCALE leather and wood trims

A larger, more dis­tinc­tive grille and new LED tail lights add more char­ac­ter, while the cabin is roomy and well-ap­pointed

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