Great White : Infiniti QX80 Driven [review]

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The Infiniti QX80 takes a bite out of the establishment

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SINGAPORE – Modern SUVs are blending into a uniform ‘grey’. Every brand has a few crossover-types that offer no more than their sedan counterparts other than a higher seating position. In fact, SUVs these days are so much like sedans there is no longer any excitement in going for one as a lifestyle choice; it’s become the practical choice, like an MPV. SUVs have become so mainstream that the charm of owning one has all been but eroded.

And that’s exactly why a great white like this QX80 helps bring back some of the romance of owning a big SUV (although we’re told it better resembles Bailey, the beluga whale from Finding Dory). The QX80 is the biggest SUV from Infiniti, and is as much a leviathan in person as it is in pictures. Even the considerably sized Audi Q7 is only classified as a Mid-Size SUV in America, whereas the QX80 is the full-sized BIG KAHUNA.

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If you’re thinking that such grandiose proportions and a rorty big V8 no longer have a place on our roads, you’ve been suitably brainwashed by the green brigade.

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With all the engine downsizing and forced induction going on, it’s refreshing to see a large nat-asp engine in an equally large car, which in turn returns a truckload of personality. Initially designed only for the US market, this version that we get in Singapore hails from Yokohama – kind of like a USDA Prime Wagyu sirloin steak. (ed: What do you know? You don’t eat beef!)

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From the outside, this imposing beast is bigger, brasher and louder than any of its luxury counterparts. The posh trim tries to add a little sophistication, but it reminds me of Tarzan in a tailored suit. Its serious hulking presence demands respect, and other road-users willingly give way when they see this behemoth bearing down on them.

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The front end of the QX80 polarises opinions, but everyone agrees it is intimidating. If Jurassic Park had used the QX80, we wouldn’t have had much of a T-Rex scene, because the face of this SUV would have intimidated the dinosaur into extinction.

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The experience from within the cabin is surprisingly docile, as the warm interior is as welcoming as an old world gentlemen’s lounge – it’s amazingly spacious and covered entirely with sumptuous leather; every seat is plush and feels like a La-Z-Boy recliner, with the wood inlay adding to the ambience. Topped-off with a great Bose sound system, one feel swaddled from the harshness of the outside.

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From the seating position, you are literally looking down on every other cars. It’s even more hilarious when you’re sitting eye-to-eye with a public bus driver. We even managed to lord it over a Rolls-Royce Wraith when it pulled up alongside. The biggest downside of being so big becomes clear when navigating an underground carpark – you always feel like you’re going to hit something. Luckily there’s a complement of 360º parking cameras as standard.

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The hulking 5.6-litre V8’s power delivery is perfect for the QX80, as the Kung Fu Panda gracefully tiptoes through traffic. It punches from low-down, with prodigious low to mid-range acceleration. However, we have to pretend not to notice the fuel gauge inching ever towards ‘E’ with each prod of the gas pedal though...

There isn’t a direct rival to the QX80, which has proven to be a real beast in the city. Other SUVs that match it in terms of size or luxury cost about twice as much, which makes the QX80 a value proposition. I doubt we would find anyone boring driving one… STORY SEAN TAY / PHOTOS ZOTIQ VISUALS

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Infiniti QX80
Engine: 5552cc, V8
Power/rpm: 400bhp/5000rpm
Torque/rpm: 560Nm/1650-4000rpm
Transmission: 7spd auto
0-100km/h: 7.6secs
Top speed: 210km/h
Fuel consumption: 14.8l/100km
CO2: 350g/km

This feature first appeared in Top Gear Singapore #62 (May 2017)

TopGear
Author: TopGear
Top Gear is a British television series about motor vehicles, primarily cars, and is the most widely watched factual television programme in the world.

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