Infiniti aims for summit of SUV market with new QX80

The 2018 Model Year Infiniti QX80. — Handout via AFP
The 2018 Model Year Infiniti QX80. — Handout via AFP

TOKYO, Nov 15 — Infiniti is looking to claim a larger share of the luxury SUV market with the all-new QX80. Officially unveiled yesterday, the first day of the Dubai International Motor Show, it comes with a choice of seven or eight seats, with a naturally aspirated 5.6-litre V8 under its menacing hood and takes luxury air travel and growing competition at the highest end of the premium off-roader market as its inspiration — inside and out.

“Our flagship SUV features a high-quality, hand-crafted interior, creating a driver-centric, passenger-minded space for inclusive, modern luxury travel,” said Christian Meunier, Infiniti Global Division Vice President at its unveiling.

If a car company is serious about rivalling the likes of the Range Rover Autobiography, Volvo XC90, the Mercedes GLS and the upcoming BMW X7, then the first potential clients to target are those in the Gulf states. It’s demand from this corner of the world that has led to Bentley and Rolls-Royce moving into the SUV market. And one look inside the new Infiniti shows how confident it is of courting customers.

The fit, finish and choice of interior materials is on a par with anything any European company is currently offering but details such as the quilted leather that adorns the seats have been given a pleasing Japanese twist. However, Infiniti has also managed to avoid the mistake often made by Asian car companies of overcomplicating the console and dashboard with numerous buttons, dials and switches.

The interior features European levels of luxury with a pleasing Japanese twist. — Handout via AFP
The interior features European levels of luxury with a pleasing Japanese twist. — Handout via AFP

And even though this is a huge car — it’s over five-metres long and a touch over two-metres wide — with only one thirsty engine choice, Infiniti has also managed to make it practical on some levels. For instance, the interior surfaces are treated with a soil-resistant hydrophilic coating for buyers with younger children worried about their offspring leaving marks and stains on the leather seats.

For the same reason, there’s an entertainment system override function. This allows the driver and front passenger to limit use of the rear seat entertainment systems or to monitor the content being streamed.

As for on- and off-road performance, the car is available with two-wheel drive or all-wheel drive and despite looking very tall, much of its height is an optical design illusion, achieved by grille and light positioning and body creases. This has enabled the company to keep the actual centre of gravity low enough to hold the road well.

Meanwhile active driver aids also help to keep the car under control and to actively avoid potential accidents. “[The car] offers drivers greater levels of confidence at the wheel, with a suite of drive-assist technologies that empower the driver. Despite the car’s size, the 2018 QX80 is easy to drive with full confidence,” said François Bancon, Vice President, Product Strategy. — AFP-Relaxnews

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