Infiniti, Nissan's luxury division, has set out to conquer the European market with a new SUV, the FX50, launched at Geneva.
The nomenclature is not merely accidental engineering code. FX50 is gunning straight for the SUV kings, the BMW X5 and Range Rover Sport. With this in mind, a 5-litre, 287kW V8 engine has been employed.
Styling features a long bonnet, with aggressively styled headlamps and contour lines which run from the headlamps up the ridgelines of the bonnet. Proportions are muscular, and the curvaceous flanks join into a strong, squared off rear.
Dynamic power platform
Infiniti FX50 utilises a version of Nissan's FM platform, also used in the 350Z sportscar. Eliminating excess weight is key to achieving handling balance, and thanks to alloy doors and bonnet, a plastic tailgate and aluminium suspension components, weight distribution is 54/46.
The 5-litre V8 is also mounted as low as possible, further enhancing handling and general stability.
Driving through a seven speed automatic gearbox, the 287kW 5-litre V8 produces 474Nm of torque for seamless acceleration. Economically minded buyers should have the option of common-rail, direct injection V6 turbodiesel power by 2010, jointly developed by Renault.
Continuous damping control and active rear steering are optional and should increase the dynamic handling threshold even further. The whole shebang rolls on huge 21-inch wheels shod with 265mm performance tyres.
Options for include adaptive cruise control, an 11-speaker Bose audio system, Infiniti's new Around View monitor system and self-healing scratch resistant paint.
Infiniti FX50 is set to go on sale in the US in June, whilst European will be introduces to the Infiniti brand with the FX50 reaching the other side of the pond by October.
Although Nissan South Africa does not currently represent the Infiniti brand locally, a feasibility study is on the cards, but in the medium term the brand is unlikely to compete here.