9 MAY 2011

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Article from BTNews 9 MAY 2011

MOTORING UPDATE by Ted Wilkinson

Infiniti FX30d Premium
A 4x4 With Abundant Style!

I am beginning to form the opinion that some of the 4x4 and Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV) I see on the road look as dated as a dinosaur.  Boxy in shape with gargantuan bodies that command a great deal of road space without being generous on interior space.  Time for something a bit easier on the eye and a lot more sensible I suggest?

Enter the Infiniti FX, which I hasten to add I have been testing in 3.0-litre turbo diesel form rather than either the 3.7-litre V6 or the 5.0-litre V8 petrol fuelled versions, which brings style and culture to a class of vehicle that is the domain of the well-heeled in this era of supercharged fuel price hikes.

This newcomer to the UK market, though well established in other countries including the USA, has not only thrown down the gauntlet to the established contenders in the premium car sector but with the FX range has decisively demonstrated that it is possible to create a really stylish looking vehicle that is also fit for purpose in so far as interior space and comfort when related to overall dimensions are taken into consideration.

The FX DNA is extensively long, this car being based on a previous version that happened before Infiniti set up its remarkable 5-star sales programme in the UK, thus ensuring that today’s product is more than a competent performer, bristling with technical innovation to ensure a pleasingly memorable experience for those fortunate enough to drive an example.

The FX projects a luxury class SUV, furnished to exacting standards with fine detailing, a bespoke vehicle where, just like a top class tailor’s service, the customer can create the car to their individual taste, not just equipment but trim, colour and so on.  I doubt if there will be two identical examples on the road.

As the luxury Nissan brand, Infiniti benefits from the massive resources of the Nissan-Renault Alliance, exemplified by the very fine 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel engine drawn from Renault but extensively revised for the greater all round efficiency and refinement necessary to compete on equal terms with the better known players in the market.

Fit this 235 bhp engine to a selectable (paddle shift) 7-speed automatic gearbox and send most of its power to the rear wheels and the result is an exacting and enjoyable driving car, very close to the top levels of performance refinement demanded at this level.

Top end performance is a claimed 132 mph with 62 mph (100 kph) achieved in a competitive 8.3 seconds while a combined fuel consumption figure of 31.4 mpg and a C02 figure of 238 g/km is about what is expected, though a bit of move forward for this type of vehicle.

This car allows you to be lazy and let the automatic transmission do all the work.  You can play with the paddle shifts and appreciate the power and performance, enjoy the tidy handling, easy parking (there’s a rear view camera and audible parking warning), the impressive road holding (assisted by a continuous damping control system), the light yet sensitive steering and the assurance of an all disc braking system supported by all the modern aids.

Other aids include departure lane warning and prevention, frontal collision warning, intelligent brake assist, Bi-Xenon adaptive cornering headlights and, for that slight nudge perhaps, a scratch shield self-repairing paint!

I enjoyed using the powered steering column and powered memory seat adjustment to create a very satisfactory driving position.  Several times I finished a journey and simply sat for a while enjoying the comfort and the charismatic ambience and luxury (including heated and ventilated front seats) of this rather special car.

A really comfortable five-seat car with an abundance of luggage capacity, the standard equipment package was sufficiently comprehensive that there were no extras on the car.  The touch screen/voice control satellite navigation system that includes the Michelin Green Guide, a 10GB music box, fixed speed camera warning (heralded by a bugle call!), the iPod/USB connection and the Bose 11-speaker sound system all ‘thrown in’.

Lifestyle enthusiasts will also probably be attracted to the darkened privacy glass, the large electrically powered glass sunroof and the welcome light facility.

The FX has accounted for up to 55% of Infiniti UK sales, though the variety of models has rapidly grown, but for those shopping for a seriously classy SUV that for looks and probably a number of other specific qualities is ahead of the game, then log into Infiniti and experience the product and the unique sales and support system this brand has to offer.

*Rivals include: BMW X5, Range Rover, Lexus 450h, Audi Q5.


STAR RATINGS (out of 10)
Performance 9
Handling 9
Transmission 9
Noise 9
Economy 9
Ride and Comfort 9
Accommodation 9
Styling 9
Brakes 9
Finish 9
TOTAL: 90
Price from £50,719.

 

NOTES FROM TED WILKINSON’S MOTORING DIARY


Nine years on and Honda is still improving on it high scoring, high selling Jazz hatch back range.  Just launched are revised and improved versions of the conventional small petrol-engine models (no diesels by the way) and, importantly, the first Hybrid powered Jazz that calls on the excellent package from the larger bodied Honda Insight.

Honda has also brought back a CVT (Constant Variable Transmission) automatic gearbox that works responsively, seamlessly and smoothly with the hybrid power unit.

Obviously, under hard acceleration with both power sources delivering, there is a degree of engine noise, but under normal driving this car is uncannily silent, especially when stationary when all power is at rest.

Some of that running silence is also, I suspect, attributable to the extensively revised suspension systems that have been introduced across the entire Jazz range – I certainly found the entry level 1.2 petrol version was also remarkably quiet yet a willing performer with some encouraging 50+ mpg fuel consumption figures being indicated on the fascia info panel.

Honda Jazz range on the road prices start at £11,295 for the 1.2S model and from £15,995 for the Hybrid in HE trim.  All versions have very low VED bands from B to D. www.honda.co.uk


CITROEN: Production specification for Citroen’s top DS4 model has been finalised.  The new model has already been voted as the Most Beautiful Car of the Year by 60,000 internet users in 62 countries. www.citroen.co.uk

FIAT: For the fifth year running Fiat has topped the European CO2 emissions ratings with the lowest figure of 123.1 g/km the figures are based on all the Fiat Group's European based car products that include Ferrari and Maserati. www.fiat.co.uk

SSANGYONG: The Korean carmaker has announced a range of new diesel and petrol engines in the 2.0 to 2.2-litre sector, some employing two-stage turbo-charging.  The company indicates that the new unit in top performance designation could feature in the premium class saloon model. www.ssangyonggb.co.uk

VAUXHALL: Free insurance and keen payment deals are being offered on pre-face lift Corsa models.  The offer could save a young driver up to £2,300 in first year insurance premium. www.vauxhall.co.uk

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