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2018 Infiniti QX80 S Premium Review

When driving the recently updated Infiniti QX80, there was only one word that came to mind – huge. That’s unsurprising though because with just one look at the thing, you’ll already know that.

But technically speaking, it really is huge as it’s larger than every single one of its rivals. Take the Lexus LX 570 we recently reviewed, for example – the QX80 is longer, wider, and taller, yet it costs a good thirty-odd less. If how much car you’re getting for the money is of concern, this thing certainly has that going for it.

The 2018 update for the QX80 is the first for the model since this lux version of the Y62 Nissan Patrol landed on Australian shores in 2015, and it’s certainly one that was overdue as the QX80 – which has been on sale in overseas markets since the start of the decade – was starting to look and feel its age.

There’s a whole host of upgrades for this revised model, both inside and out. In the sole S Premium specification available for Australia, it’s seemingly brimming with goodies – heated seats for the first two rows with ventilation for the front, heated steering wheel, electric folding for the second and third row, a second-row entertainment system with two screens and wireless headphones, a newer infotainment system, a 15-speaker Bose surround sound system, and a ‘smart rear-view mirror’.

Plush leather abounds inside, with new quilting and piping on the updated seats and door cards, while there’s also a new shift knob and ever-so-slightly less garish faux-wood highlights.

Has any of that worked? Sort of. While some features – the plush new seats and the Bose sound system, for instance – are absolutely lovely, the OTT slabs of pretend wood and the second-row entertainment screens feel not only tacky but dated.

The updated infotainment system too feels dated, while the smart rear-view mirror – which utilises an adjustable camera to provide you with a view out the rear – is a clever bit of thinking, but comes off as somewhat poorly executed due to its grainy quality and low frame rate.

There’s no denying the amount of space inside it though, as it is truly expansive with more than ample room for all passengers.

It is worth noting too that our test car did have a noticeable number of interior rattles and squeaks

On the outside, the sharpened looks do wonders for the QX80. Where the pre-facelift model looked as though it was melting, it now looks muscular and has an undeniable amount of presence, and with adaptive LED headlights, a squared-off stance, and redesigned 22-inch rims, it is brought up to the times.

Under the skin though, it’s all much the same as before. There’s still the same petrol-powered 5.6-litre atmo V8, producing a meaty 298kW and 560Nm, paired to a seven-speed automatic and a proper dual-range four-wheel drive system.

It’s largely a good thing that the drivetrain remains largely unchanged, as it’s possibly the QX80’s biggest highlight. The big bent-eight beneath the bonnet stands out most – it’s a meaty, muscular unit with plenty of low-down grunt, yet it also feels smooth and well-paired to the seven-speed self-shifter.

The four-wheel drive system is pretty clever, with auto, high, and low-range settings for the transfer case; drive modes for on sealed surfaces, rocks, sand, and snow; and a locking rear differential.

While lacking particular drive modes for the testing we put it through, the QX80 pulls itself through thick mud with ease in low-range with the rear diff locked, while its impressive ground clearance helps with negotiating big dips. The ride over loose gravel is also very impressive, although over corrugation it does feel a tad jiggly, which links to how it rides on road, which is the biggest disappointment with this thing.

Where you would hope for a plush ride that truly irons out bumps, the QX80 unfortunately feels jittery and unsettled on the tarmac, perhaps owing to its lacking air suspension – something common on its rivals.

It’s not uncomfortable by any stretch, but it does shake you around enough to become a bit tiresome after a while. Thankfully it doesn’t feel too harsh though thanks to those very plush seats.

Unsurprisingly, it’s not in any way sporty. With steering best described as feeling somewhat approximate and an expected amount of body roll that reminds you just how heavy and huge it is, it’s more at home on the open road than any backroad. It’s another shame, as its V8 power plant feels surprisingly athletic and willing to rev, and the deep burble it makes does keep you wanting to put your right foot down.

You’ll want to watch how often you’re giving it some welly though, as it does have a bit of a drinking problem. While the claimed combined rating is 14.5L/100km, the number showing up after a week with the QX80 comprising a fair amount of country driving with some city driving and off-roading thrown in was an indicated 15.8L/100km, but stay around town too long and that number will nudge, if not eclipse twenty.

Considering it only accepts top-grade 98RON fuel due to the poor quality of ours here in Australia, running one of these is no cheap undertaking. Were there a diesel option though, it might be a different story.

It also has just 10,000km service intervals – another cost to consider – as well as the fact that there are just seven showrooms and three service centres Australia-wide in only six of our states and territories. Take note, country buyers.

A puncture in one of the big 275/50 R22 Bridgestone tyres thanks to a rogue screw made me think to look up the price on those too, with that research revealing they will set you back $1104 a piece at full retail price. Ouch.

The $110,900 base price tag is another number that I found a bit hard to stomach. While it might be considerably more affordable than what is its most direct rival, the aforementioned Lexus LX 570, I can’t help but feel some other cars at around this price point – such as the Land Rover Discovery – outclass it, and have better brand value compared to Infiniti, which is still rather an unknown name here. There’s always the other question as to whether or not some more upscale trim and a few extra gizmos make this worth the premium over the Patrol, too.

Verdict

Design & Comfort

7.5/10

Performance & Handling

7.0/10

Quality

7.5/10

Economy

6.5/10

Equipment & Features

7.5/10

OUR SCORE

3.7/5

Our Score: 3.7/5

+ Plus

  • Off-road ability
  • Interior space
  • Smooth drivetrain with powerful V8
  • Far better looking than the old one

Minus

  • Unsettled ride
  • Expensive running costs
  • Dated technology
  • Lack of a more efficient diesel engine option

Overall

With only 83 sold in Australia last year and Infiniti’s goal for 2018 set at shifting just 100 units, it’s clear that the QX80 is a real niche buy. While it may make a better case for itself in places like the USA and the UAE where petrol is cheap and the demand for luxurious four-wheelers is high, the cost of running one here and the lack of brand value and dealer infrastructure means it’ll be a tough sell.

The people out there who are in the market for something specifically like this will no doubt love it, and while I can certainly appreciate its tremendous drivetrain and off-road ability, its on-road manners and dated features are what lets it down for me.

It is an improvement though, and it’s a good sign that Infiniti might well be able to start making a name for themselves here.

2018 Infiniti QX80 pricing and specification

Price (excluding on-roads):From $110,900

As tested: $112,400

Tested options:

·       Metallic paint – $1,500

Warranty:4 years/100,000km
Warranty Customer Assistance:4 years roadside
Service Intervals:12 months/10,000km
Country of Origin:Japan
Engine:5.6-litre naturally aspirated direct injection V8 petrol:

298kW @ 5,800rpm, 560Nm @ 4,000rpm

Transmission:7-speed automatic
Drivetrain:Four-wheel drive
Power-to-Weight Ratio (W/kg):107.1
0-100km/h (seconds):Claimed: 7.5
Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km):Claimed: 14.5 / Tested: 15.8
RON Rating:98
Fuel Capacity (L):100
Body:5-door SUV, 7 seats
Safety:ANCAP not rated, 6 airbags, ABS, EBD, BA, VSC, Blind Spot Warning (BSW), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Intelligent Brake Assist (IBA), Forward Emergency Braking (FEB), Predictive Forward Collision Warning (PFCW), Distance Control Assist (DCA), Backup Collision Intervention (BCI), front-seat Active Head Restraints (AHR), LATCH System, tyre pressure monitor, 360-degree camera
Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B) mm:5,340/2,265/1,945/3,075
Boot Space (min/max) (L):470/2693
Turning Circle Between Kerbs:12.6
Ground Clearance:246
Wading Depth:N/A
Approach Angle:24.2
Departure Angle:24.5
Breakover Angle:23.6
Kerb Weight (kg):2,837
Towing Capacity (kg):Braked: 3,500/Unbraked: 750
Entertainment:8-inch touchscreen infotainment display, satellite navigation, Bluetooth, USB, AUX, CD/DVD player

Dual 8-inch rear entertainment displays with remote control and wireless headphones

15-speaker Bose Cabin Surround sound system

Photos by Justin Cribbes. 

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