2018 Infiniti QX80 — Road Test

Posted on Feb 28, 2018 by
2018 Infiniti QX80
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Review Summary:

With much improved styling this time around, the new 2018 Infiniti QX80 flagship model represents value-for-money even in this high price segment...

Pros

Better looking.
Off-road ability.
Space and value.

Cons

Not that different to drive from its predecessor

How does the 2018 Infiniti QX80 fare on Middle East roads, both on and off the tarmac? We take it  out for a test… Text: Amit Benjamin. Images: Supplied

Well, well, well… It’s the 2018 Infiniti QX80. Looks so much better than its whale-inspired predecessor…

We’d go a step further and say it is now one of the best-looking SUVs in this segment. The Lincoln Continental and Cadillac Escalade might even be considered too extravagant for some, and we’re still getting used to the mug on the Lexus LX570. If you’re looking for something restrained and classy, you’ve come to the right place, and that’s something you could’ve never said about the old QX80.

How can something so big be considered restrained?

Despite its postcode straddling length of 5,340mm and a width of over two metres, it looks relatively compact in the flesh. Well compact-er. The lines are elegant and simple, so the new QX80 doesn’t come across all bloated and disproportionate.

In profile, the styling is clean and the new air vents above the front wheel arch are a nice little detail on the otherwise featureless sheet metal. The back is also better than before, with a chrome bar running the length of the tailgate and intersecting the rear lights.

The biggest cosmetic change is obviously up front with the raised bonnet, a new grille and Infiniti’s new ‘Human Eye’ LED headlights.

2018 infiniti qx80 interior

I like those headlights and I’m sure I’ll be seeing them a lot in my rear-view mirror, flashing furiously…

There, there. The 2018 Infiniti QX80 hasn’t lost its commanding presence, and it is still a brutish SUV. The styling lends it an air of sophistication and civility, but make no mistake, a wimp it is not. Over the course of our test, which included some hairy mountain driving, the QX80 came across as a very impressive SUV. But more on that later.

Tell me about the changes — Is this really an all-new car, as Infiniti claims?

2018 infiniti qx80 interior

In a word, no. This is a heavily revised version of Infiniti’s halo SUV, and apart from the, visibly, upgraded exterior, the cabin has been given a substantial boost in terms of layout, quality and finish as well as materials used. It is properly plush in there and all the tech right from the main infotainment system to the rear entertainment system has been brought up-to-date with bigger screens, better resolution and enhanced functionality. It also gets a new rear-vision camera, which turns the conventional rear-view mirror into a high-resolution screen that displays a wide-angle view of what’s behind the vehicle; it’s nifty.

The interior appointments, in our top-end Premium tester, are perhaps on a par with things like, dare I say, a Mercedes GLS. Either way, the cabin is definitely better than what you’d get in an LX570, Escalade or Yukon Denali. It’s more spacious than before, too.

2018 infiniti qx80 interior

Better sound insulation, meanwhile, promises a very precise five percent improvement in “the cabin’s articulation index score, which is used to measure the audibility of speech between occupants”. Sure, it’s quiet and refined on the move, but can I confirm its efficacy to that accuracy? Not really.

Overall, though the 2018 QX80 has a cabin that exudes premiumness more than any of its rivals. Importantly, the 2018 QX80 puts an ever-wider chasm between itself and its Patrol cousin; it feels like a different car in here, properly luxurious.

Does it drive any differently?

Honestly, it does not feel very different to drive. The mechanicals remain unchanged with a 5.6-litre V8 delivering 400 horsepower and a meaty 560Nm of torque. It may not seem a lot, but it’s enough to propel this nearly two-and-a-half tonne SUV to 100km/h from a standstill in just over seven seconds; that’s hot-hatch territory, give or take.

A large part of our test included driving to the top of a mountain and the craggy roads that snake their way up throw near-well 45-degree inclines your way. The QX80 barely breaks a sweat; its off-road prowess remains unimpeachable as ever. Point its nose to the summit, squeeze the throttle and you’re off with the light-footedness of a mountain goat. A fat mountain goat, but a mountain goat nonetheless.

On the highway, progress is smooth and the ride quality is sublime. You do get a whiff of wind noise at speeds you should not be driving at, so that shouldn’t be a problem. On balance, the refinement stays intact.

2018 infiniti qx80 interior

What about the price?

This is probably the highlight of the 2018 QX80, given how much money jumped-up European crossovers command these days. Starting at about AED307,000 for the entry level model and AED335,000 for the fully plumped-up version, this is a lot of car for the money.

Look around, and you’ll see the Volvo XC60 Inscription or a top-spec BMW X3 breach the AED300,000 mark. Neither are as spacious, capable (both on and off-road), practical or as comfortable as the QX80.

Like for like, the Lexus LX570 starts at about AED385,000 and tops out at nearly half a million dirhams. That’s plenty of monies for a car that is, to put it plainly, not as good.

It’s not an all-new car as Infiniti would have you believe, but the formula still works, and the improved styling and interior upgrades have made a world of difference.

By my reckoning, you will be seeing plenty more 2018 QX80s on the roads in the Middle East… Most likely in the fast lane and about five inches from your rear bumper.

 

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