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, eightseat capacity and 3.5-tonne pulling power — it comes fitted 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 on some surfaces.
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 its 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.
The Infiniti is a good touring vehicle but the lack of a diesel is a big oversight. And the QX80 becomes an even harder sell when you can get a top-of-theline Patrol for $24,000 less.