Dramatic styling imparts fun
While I don't see myself owning an Infiniti FX, I did get a kick out of driving this week's flashy tester with its 21-inch bladed wheels. I felt a bit like Batman racing through Gotham City to save the world from annihilation by the Joker or some similar villain.
I didn't save the world, or any part of it for that matter - certainly not fossil fuel - yet I developed an affinity for my Infiniti in Electric-Indigo blue. This vehicle stood out from the milquetoast world of crossovers, and in doing so it exhibited many attributes, the most obvious being appearance.
From the driver's perspective, the FX is all nose. It has a long sculpted hood dominating the view forward. Drivers who like to see the substance of their vehicle ahead of them will marvel at the sight. I have to admit that it was rather cool gazing over the bulging fender haunches and extensive nose while piloting Infiniti's Limited Edition all-wheel-drive bad boy.
The Limited Edition FX35's cabin is finished in diamond-tufted charcoal leather upholstery to match the graphite-finished exterior trim. It's also loaded with technology to enhance and optimize the driving experience.
V6 performance inspires
Among six-cylinder crossovers, the FX35 ranks with the most powerful. Nissan's highly lauded 3.5L DOHC V6 powerplant dispenses 303 horsepower @ 6,800 rpm and 262 pound-feet of torque @ 4,800 rpm. This is an engine that breathes freely and revs vigorously, thanks largely to variable valve timing.
Output is most forceful at the higher end of its RPM scale, but thanks to an automatic transmission containing seven cogs, the engine can always find its sweet spot when called upon to perform. While I consider the FX35 to be highly competent off the line and in the passing lane, I found that its sport-tuned exhaust note fell beyond my definition of auditory pleasure.
Fuel economy for the spicy V6 is rated at 13.4L/100km and 9.3L/100km, city and highway driving respectively. These aren't particularly attractive numbers, which unfortunately my real-world driving failed to achieve. I was more in the 14-15L/100 km range around town - not pretty.
Although the thirsty engine likes to announce itself, the FX35 manages to banish road and wind noise most effectively from its secure cabin.
Rigid structure quite evident
It didn't take more than a kilometre or two for the FX35's rock-solid structural rigidity to become evident. This vehicle is as solid as they come, begging me to search out rough road rather than avoid it. Unlike so many crossover-type vehicles, the underpinnings of the FX35 do not utter the slightest thump or bump while effectively absorbing the worst of urban decay.
Nothing in this vehicle rattles, shudders or produces unpleasant reactions to rough roads, and I can't stress how pleasant that is. While it may not be the smoothest riding crossover in the segment, the FX35 delivers a ride I would describe as comfortably firm, making long journeys easy to digest.
The inherent stiffness in the FX35's structure and its performance-oriented underpinnings combine to deliver handling dynamics that are composed, athletic and exceptionally good for this class of vehicle. The larger wheels and performance tires of the Limited Edition further reinforce those qualities.
Behind the wheel
The three most immediate observations upon climbing into this week's tester and departing were of course its long nose, audible engine and overall solidity. After spending time behind the wheel, I found rearward visibility to be sharply compromised by the vehicle's dramatic roofline.
One would expect such a visual limiter to impede parking the FX, but that wasn't so due to Infiniti's Around View Monitor system. This setup activates four cameras, one on each side and end of the vehicle, to display on the navigation screen a virtual bird's-eye, 360-degree view of the vehicle and its surroundings.
This system is quite ingenious and made parking the FX35 a fun, enjoyable task. My Limited Edition tester, of which there are only 75 destined for Canada, included a tremendous serving of comfort and technology gear as standard equipment. The list includes: Infiniti HDD navigation, Bluetooth streaming audio, intelligent key with push-button start, 11-speaker premium audio, heated/cooled front seats and dual-zone climate control.
My tester's MSRP was $61,900 before delivery charges. That's fairly steep. Keep in mind though, the Limited Edition FX35 is fully-kitted and notably exclusive; plus, you get to patrol Gotham City, and how cool is that?