Nissan builds a faster cheetah
National Post .
Of all the vehicles I have tested, one of the least likely candidates for cult classic status is Infiniti’s FX35. Oh, sure, from its inception it sported a striking visage, what with its “bionic cheetah” styling, big ol’ wheels and a countenance that is just a bit more daring than your average sport utility replicant.
But, SUVs, sporty or not, are a dime a dozen these days and, except for odd creatures with specific abilities such as Land Rovers few seem to generate much loyalty. Everyone might lust after an SUV (even if they don’t buy one for economic reasons), but few are undyingly loyal to a specific vehicle except for the first generation FX35.
I have known many an Infiniti owner who swears by them, enough that most actually lament the end of their lease. Convinced that they entered the leasing market to switch vehicles, many FX35 owners have trouble giving up their old paint.
In marketing circles, the loyalty to the first gen FX35 was even odder as it was the runt of the litter. But, as all powerful as the 45 was, it was a rough riding beast that sacrificed much in the way of creature comforts for its sporting aptitude. No such comprises marred the FX35 and, for a select crowd, there was nowhere they could get a dramatically styled SUV with so much performance for so little money. In other words, there are some very big shoes for the totally revamped 2009 version to fill.
One could accuse Infiniti of wimping out a little in the styling department, as the 2009 version doesn’t look much different from the ’08. But, to give Nissan’s luxury brand credit, at least the modest changes the company m hermes ade haven’t softened the FX’s edge. The new model’s gaping front grille looks even more predatory than before and the bulges on its quarter panels are a little more pronounced.
It’s under the hood where the updated VQ35HR 3.5L V6 lives where the real upgrades have transpired. Now breathing through twin throttle bodies, the FX35 boast hermes s 303 horsepower. That’s enough muscle for a mid six second run to 100 kilometres an hour, reason enough to (almost) forget about the fuel hogging 5.0L FX50 version.
What’s truly surprising is how sporting the six cylinder engine sounds. V6s are notoriously difficult to make aurally appealing. Just ask Mercedes, which, despite its many abilities, still hasn’t found a way to make the C Class family of V6s sound like anything other than a tramp steamer. The Infiniti motor, on the other hand, sounds rorty as all get out, like it wants to as Eddie Murphy sang with mediocrity party all the time. Matched to a close ratio, seven speed automatic with paddle shifters, the 3.5L likes to spin, its penchant for high rpm very much like Nissan’s 370Z sports coupe. The allusion is apt since its engine is all but identical.
The FX35 also does an admirable job of emulating the Z’s cornering ability. Though it rides on higher profile, 18 inch tires rather than the FX50’s 20s, there’s still plenty of grip and precious little roll. It seems (oxy)moronic to buy an SUV so it can emulate a sports car, but, if that’s what you want, that’s what the FX35 delivers. It also does so without the buckboard ride of its V8 powered sibling (or the BMW X5 that the FX50 so slavishly tries to emulate). It may not be Lexus RX soft, but it won’t shake the fillings out of your teeth.
Inside, there’s an elegance that was missing from the first generation. The ’09’s build quality is excellent as are the materials. And even if they aren’t quite up to Audi’s top notch standards, they’ll do quite nicely. The FX35’s cabin also doesn’t lack for amenities, loaded to the gills (properly packaged, of course) with one of the better navigation systems, an excellent stereo and ventilated as well as heated seats. But, the killer app that technological thingy you can boast to all your friends is Infiniti’s Around View Monitor system, which essentially offers a 360 degree view of everything around the vehicle via a set of four exterior cameras and the navi system’s LED screen.
In just about every way, the 2009 FX35 improves upon its predecessor. It is larger, sportier, more powerful and better appointed succeeding where so many sophomore efforts have failed. The question, then, is whether those improvements are sufficient to guarantee the second generation model the same cult status the original enjoyed.
Type of vehicle All wheel drive, mid sized SUV
Price: base/as tested $50,700/$56,450 Destination charge $1,825 Transpo hermes rt Canada fuel economy L/100 km 13.3 city, 9.3 hwy.
Standard features Power door locks, windows and mirrors, dual zone climate control air conditioning, Bose 11 speaker AM/FM/ CD/MP3 audio system, XM satellite radio, steering wheel mounted audio controls, Bluetooth hands free phone system, cruise control, power glass sunroof, information display, power tilt and telescopic steering wheel, leather seats, eight way power front seats, heated and cooled front seats, auto headlights, dual front air ba hermes gs, front seat side air bags, front and rear side curtain air bags, rollover sensor, immobilizer and antitheft systemsTools + Change text size.