The large luxury SUV market may not be as popular as those of the small or mid-range, but that doesn’t mean the competition isn’t as fierce. If anything fans of the bigger vehicle class can be less forgiving with fewer candidates to choose from. We recently travelled to Melbourne to test drive the new Infiniti QX80, who’s aiming to merge high-class design with practicality for modern families. While it provides the kind of driving experience you would expect from a vehicle priced at over $100,000 AUD, it’s the excellent off-road performance that surprised us most.
Photos don’t do it justice but in the flesh, the QX80 is an immense vehicle. Its design has been updated since the last iteration from 2015, but it will still likely divide opinion. The hood sits lower than before and the chrome accented grills have been widened; the LED headlights look like a set of eyes from certain angles but the contours on the sides do a good job of slimming down a vehicle of this size. The boxy front grill is something that you’d either love or shy away from but either way, it’s one of the main elements that contribute towards its rugged looks.
Stepping inside the QX80, it’s evident that a lot of thought went into making the in-cabin experience as enjoyable as possible. It has a contemporary design in both its looks and feel. From the perforated leather on the seats, doors, and armrests to the stitching that matches with the wood panelling, there is attention to detail in every facet. The seating is both comfortable and roomy, with plenty of head and legroom for both front and rear passengers. In its own right, it is a luxurious interior, as long as you’re not comparing it to some of its European counterparts.
This is where the QX80 levels the playing field with its rivals. There is a clear focus on making the drive as comfortable as possible. This starts with the suspension system that continually adjusts itself as you drive to keep your ride smooth, while the interior is filled with a series of soundproofing materials to shield the occupants from outside noise. What caught us off guard was the way the QX80 handled rough, off-road terrains. We drove through steep inclines and knee-deep streams to put the car to the test, and it handled everything with ease. While heading down a rocky hill we got to test the auto-descent feature. It’s quite intimidating to completely let go of the brakes and allow a car of this size, complete control of your safety during a descent. Simply put, it aced it and clearly, we lived to write about it.
Tech and Safety
The central hub of the QX80 is the 8″ touchscreen infotainment system. It’s easy to interact with using either the push-pull joystick beneath or the navigation controls on the steering wheel. The car comes with satellite navigation, voice control, and both USB and Bluetooth playback connections for music, an expected set of features for cars in this price range. Unfortunately, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto aren’t included and can’t be added as an optional upgrade.
The Infiniti QX80 comes with a welcome set of safety improvements and driver assist technologies powered by an array of cameras and radars that map the vehicle’s surroundings. When engaged, the cruise control in the QX80 will respond to the speed of the traffic ahead and automatically alter its speed to maintain a safe braking distance. This isn’t limited to the cars ahead and behind but also reacts to any hazards that are present on either side. The QX80 also detects the road’s lanes and warns the driver when other vehicles or they themselves are drifting from their lane as well as monitoring any blind spots.
Infiniti QX80 First Impressions – The Wrap Up
The Infiniti QX80 is a solid combination of both power and luxury. The clear commitment to providing a comfortable driving experience in all terrains and situations is evident in the cabin’s design and the abundance of state of the art safety technologies included as standard. The car and features don’t come cheap but if you ever find yourself having to tackle some unexpected off-road detours, at least you know it will be up for the challenge.Find Out More: Infiniti