Written by: Calvin Chan
Photography by: Calvin Chan
"Why would you ever want an SUV that guzzles up gas like a b**** and takes an hour to park?" my colleague asked me. I didn't know what to say. My palms got a bit sweaty as I reached to hide the bulge coming from my front pocket. Embarrassed that I was harbouring the keys to the new 2015 Infiniti QX80, I brushed it off and told him, "Not me!"
So there we were in mutual agreement (well... sort of) that full-size SUVs were meant for the scrap bin. Yet, why do automakers still make them? Here is Infiniti's advocate, formerly known as the QX56 (named after the 5.6-litre V8 engine displacement), it now goes by the moniker of QX80. We're here to take a closer look at the QX80, find out what's new for 2015, and to let you know why I think it's more than just a thirsty goliath-sized afterthought.
The QX80 is Infiniti's traditional full-size sport utility vehicle, and fully sized it is indeed. The QX80 actually has a longer wheelbase than a Lincoln Navigator and is taller than a Cadillac Escalade. The 2015 model looks sharper and more aggressive than the 2014 due in part to the new front mesh grille (2014 had a straight line grille), new bumpers and LED lights, new 22-inch wheel designs (oversized but why not), and new paint colours such as the Hermosa Blue our tester is wearing.
The overall design gives the QX80 very round proportions and can even be coined as the humpback whale of luxury SUVs. Albeit, it's hard to disguise that globular front hood and Maserati-sized shark mouth. A difference in opinion might think it's more of a lipoinjected Q70, one that is bulkier and bubblier on the shoulders. It looks pretty damn good regardless of those Botox lip injections. Its road presence is undeniable, which brings me to my next point. Whichever way you view the QX80, it's excess and almost bordering on superfluous. But it's a grand reminder that cars like this weren't built to be record-shattering volume sellers or to rank #1 as the easiest car to park. It's a statement of what automakers can do and targetted towards a select consumer audience.
What about the interior? Well, going from the refreshed exterior to the QX80's interior is a bit of a step back in the time machine. I can't help but feel the QX80 has been left behind in this generation of SUVs while other automakers have started a new chapter. Don't get me wrong, Infiniti has some of the most serene and hearty interiors on the market. It's an aging design but one that is like a glass of scotch, it's an acquired taste. No expense was spared on the quality of rich wood and semi-aniline leather that wrapped every nook and cranny. The steering wheel is massive, soft and smooth to the touch, but the wrap-around wood was a bit of a double-edged sword. Only the leather portions of the wheel get heated, so from the way the wood is positioned, only your fingers will feel the warmth.
The main event was the wide center console. It looked like a keyboard-infested slack of wood. Quite appealing actually but I felt that there was so much free space that the designers and engineers couldn't find a structured way to arrange the buttons. Hats off to you though for keeping not only hard buttons but a proper analogue clock.
The driving position was rather high and felt a bit too truck-like, straight and taut. The rear seats however, was where the party was at. The QX80 can be had in two flavours, 7-passenger or 8-passenger seating. Our tester had the 7-seater configuration and thus came with captain chairs for the second row. They were inclined, heated, and 60/40 for your folding pleasure. Headroom and legroom was vast and there was an abundance of room even for the third row of seats. The third row was also electronically adjustable with buttons situated at the rear trunk. Yeah, it's in need of a refresh, but not desperately. The cabin is well thought out, ergonomically sound, attractive, and classy, almost like an old typewriter sitting on your oak dining table.
Tip to the driver: located under the center console are switches to flick down the second row of seats for easier third row entry. Those switches also double as a 007 seat ejectors with the speed that the hydraulics catapult those seats down. Careful.
Right. It's time we talked about the powertrain. Why I've decided to talk about this last was because nothing has really changed. 2015 was mainly about cosmetics rather than dynamics. The 5.6-litre V8 engine gets carried over with 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque. It's an incredible engine with plenty of passing power on the highway, and it's got the proper sounds to match. In fact, the unfiltered and torquey V8 made the QX80 feel lighter than it really is, and with a curb weight of 2560 kg, that's saying something. The QX80's 7-speed gearbox played well when you needed a boost and didn't always hunt for the top gear. It stayed at the most tender part of the powerband.
The steering was smooth, progressive and carried a decent amount of weight to it. The suspension was pretty good for its size. Hydraulic Body Motion Control came into play when the weight of the car shifted. Hydraulics stiffened up the outer suspension to create a more level stance, almost like a seesaw. The result was 100% street and highway comfort. The QX80 also came with Infiniti's all-wheel drive system that could deliver up to 50% of the torque to the front wheels when needed. We left the systems in AUTO where it belonged, but you have the option of changing it to 4H, 4L, Snow, and Tow modes when the occasion arises and Mother Nature needs conquering.
As with any full-sized SUV, fuel consumption is always the main worry. We averaged 19.8 L/100km with a bias towards stop-and-go city driving. Heavier foots that want to exploit the deep end of the V8 can expect an even higher number. We got similar numbers in the Cadillac Escalade and Chevrolet Tahoe, SUVs that also have large frames and V8 engines. I wouldn't be surprised if the next generation Qx80 came with two less cylinders and a couple turbos glued on - gone is the age of naturally aspirated engines. I think it would benefit from a START/STOP system too.
Appropriately named, the 2015 Infiniti QX80 will cost you around $80k depending on your options. The base price is $73,650, but with the Technology Package ($8150 - an option invasion) our tester rang up at $82,185 before taxes, freight, and PDI. Not bad considering the sheer size of the thing, the cargo space it carries and its towing capacity (rated at 8500 lbs). In my mind, the QX80 was built for those who want the functionality and utility of a family-hauling minivan, but are too embarrassed to be seen with baby seats and sliding doors. Well, that was the answer in my head anyways. What came out of my mouth was a different story. At the end of the day I made my way to the parking garage, exhausted and struggling to find my keys. Lo and behold, I see that same colleague driving off in a new GMC Yukon. I guess we all need to vent somehow.
型号 Model: 2015 Infiniti QX80 7-Passenger
顏色 Paint Type: Hermosa Blue ($385)
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $73,650
試車售價 Price as Tested: $82,185
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 3,075
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 5,305 / 2,030 / 1,925
車重 Curb weight (kg): 2,560
引擎 Engine: 5.6L 32-valve DOHC V8
最大馬力 Horsepower: 400 hp @ 5,800 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 413 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 7-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, Infiniti All-Mode 4WD
前懸 Suspension-Front: Independent, double-wishbone
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Independent, double-wishbone
煞制-前 Brakes-Front: Vented disc
煞制-後 Brakes-Rear: Vented disc
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway)- L/100 km: 16.9 / 11.9
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V1 - 275/50R22