The Infiniti QX80 has only been in Australia for three years, but in that time it has earned the unenviable reputation of being one of the least attractive SUVs of modern times.
Granted, the world of offroaders isn’t exactly jam-packed with beauty queens, but the Infiniti QX80’s bulging Beluga forehead and droopy-eyed headlamps stood out from the crowd for all the wrong reasons.
Mercifully, that’s changed. A mid-cycle facelift rectifies all of the aesthetic complaints we had about the exterior, and actually gives the QX80 a face that’s not just more handsome than before, but one that actually appears premium. That’s something that was sorely needed to separate the Infiniti from the Nissan Patrol that it’s based upon.
Other updates are minor, and the QX80 still doesn’t spoil buyers with choice – there’s just one spec grade on offer, and one petrol engine. That said, there are still more than a few reasons to look in the QX80’s direction.
- Appearance – say what you will about the pre-update QX80, but the newly-arrived model is genuinely good-looking from most angles. Sure, it shares a lot of its side sheetmetal (not to mention its entire mechanical package) with the Nissan Patrol, but the front-end makeover is unique to the Infiniti and brings distinctive LED headlamps and a more pronounced ‘jawline. Meanwhile the reshaped tailgate, tail lights and rear bumper cap off what is a greatly-needed aesthetic upgrade.
- Value – This is a serious amount of car for your money. The pricing remains the same at $110,900, which is a properly sharp deal against the $142,741 Lexus LX570 that is the QX80’s primary rival. It’s even cheaper than a petrol-engined Toyota LandCruiser Sahara, while also boasting significantly more power and torque.
- Refinement – There’s a quietness to the QX80’s cabin when travelling at highway speed that belies its size, and some of that has to do with the addition of more sound-absorbing material around the updated QX80’s cabin. Isolation from outside sources of noise is good, which makes for a comfortable cruiser on long-distance drives.
- Powerful engine – The QX80’s 5.6-litre naturally-aspirated V8 may be a low-tech option by today’s standards, but its 298kW/560Nm outputs are certainly generous. It also happens to sound glorious under hard acceleration, while also being happy to lope around at low rpm. For those curious, the QX80 will sprint to 100km/h in just 7.5 seconds.
- Smooth gearbox – A seven-speed conventional automatic is the only transmission offered in the QX80, and it works admirably well. Shifts are silky, it preferences tall gears to take advantage of the engine’s abundant low-rpm torque, and it intelligently holds gears when going up hills.
- Offroad credentials – This isn’t your average Toorak Tractor. The QX80 makes full use of the Patrol’s offroad running gear, and brings a genuine low-range transfer case, locking rear differential, huge ground clearance and a bevy of off-road modes for its traction control system to ensure you rarely get stuck.
- Size – The QX80 is massive, and when it comes to carting around seven people without much squeezing it’s got space to spare. The only downside is making sure you’ve got a driveway big enough to park it in.
- Entertainment options – The rear seat screens, mounted in each front headrest, are now upsized to 8 inches and can play different videos – perfect if one of your backseaters isn’t into the same kind of shows as their companions. Wireless headsets, USB charging points and rear seat climate controls also help keep your passengers happy on long journeys.
- Suspension sensitivity – Infiniti has retuned the suspension, cutting damper forces by 30 percent all around to help introduce a more comfortable ride. While it dispatches bigger bumps well and generally does a good job of riding smoothly, lightly corrugated roads introduce some jiggliness to the QX80’s chassis that takes a little the shine off an otherwise cushy suspension.
- Steering – Over-assisted and with many turns of lock, there’s not much of a sense of connection to the front wheels. Not a huge issue in a lumbering offroader, but it does reduce the driver’s confidence in how much grip remains at the front end.
- Thirst – There’s no diesel option – nor will there ever be for the QX80 – and with the only powerplant being a naturally-aspirated V8 that means the 2.8-tonne QX80 sucks down lots of fuel. We averaged around 16L/100km during the launch event, and Infiniti themselves claim an average burn of 14.5L/100km.
- Interior changes – They’re only minor. It’s more expensive for a car company to make sweeping changes to a vehicle’s interior furniture than its exterior, so the QX80 update sees the same dashboard, centre console, centre stack layout and instrument panel carry over with only minor alterations to trim materials.
ANY RIVALS I SHOULD CONSIDER?
On September 2, 2019, Infiniti Australia announced it will fully withdraw from the Australian market by the end of 2020. For more information, head here.