Infiniti QX80 review: A whale of a time

Leow Ju Len

infiniti qx80 review

The Infiniti QX80 is big enough to make other SUVs seem small in comparison. The big surprise is how it drives.

SINGAPORE — Never mind that it has the head and face of a sperm whale, the Infiniti QX80 also has the body of a blue whale. People think full-size Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) like the BMW X5 or Mercedes-Benz GLE are big, but the five-door, seven-seat mega machine from Japan makes most of them look like baby cars in comparison.

At 5,305mm long, the QX80 is nearly half a metre longer than a BMW X5. But it’s the height that really gets you, with the top of the Infiniti scraping low lying clouds at 1,945mm.

It’s a car you climb up into (instead of just into), and when you’re there the first thing you notice is that the bonnet is, I kid you not, practically level with the roofs of some cars.

infiniti qx80 singapore

For that, you can thank the Infiniti’s body-on-frame construction (meaning the bodyshell is bolted on top of a ladder-shaped chassis that carries the running gear and suspension), which means the engine sits fairly high up.

That also contributes to a hefty kerb weight of 2,815kg. Which makes the Infiniti a quarter of a tonne heavier than a Rolls-Royce Phantom.

READ MORE: We drove a BMW X5 to the foot of a volcano

Mind you, even though all that flab and the ladder frame chassis suggest a crude and clumsy car, since body-on-frame construction is typically used for pickups and vans, the QX80 is somehow neither. Instead, it’s a refined and surprisingly well-behaved machine.

The engine, a mammoth 5.6-litre V8 that could easily tow the Space Shuttle, hardly seems to strain under the task of hauling seemingly infinite Infiniti around. You usually only ever hear a distant burble from the engine bay, until you lean hard on the accelerator, at which point it lets loose a gorgeous V8 growl that makes the small hairs stand.

infiniti qx80 review singapore

As for the seven-speed auto, it’s just as creamy as the V8, so you don’t notice it doing its thing much.

It all makes for very smooth progress, and there’s a decently pliant ride to match. And if you expect the big Infiniti’s game to fall apart at the first sight of a corner, then there’s a pleasant surprise to be had, too.

The QX80 has a hydraulic system to cut body roll, so even if you hustle a bit around bends, it doesn’t lurch like someone who’s just emerged from a night at Zouk.

You’d be a fool to demand sportscar-like handling from the Infiniti, of course, but it’s an achievement that something this massive isn’t terrible to drive. It’s even relatively easy to slither through narrow town streets in, because from the driver’s seat you can see all the way to Kuala Lumpur.

Of course, there’s every chance that you’re thinking about the car for someone else to drive you around in, in which case the QX80 offers a mixed bag.

The cabin is positively cavernous, as you’d expect, and it’s cooled by powerful air-conditioning, so if you’ve managed to score yourself a place in either of the chairs in Row Two, you can recline in comfort and arrive at your destination without a crease on you.

Back in Row Three, however, you have to slump if you’re an adult and you don’t want your mane to touch the ceiling. And though you could fit three people back there, it’s narrow enough that they would either have to be good friends before sharing the bench, or are forced to emerge from the journey as pals.

Overall, the QX80 would be much more comfy for six people than seven. Still, the car’s bulk means it at least has an outsized appetite for luggage. With only the third row seats stowed (something you can do by pressing a switch) it can ingest 1,490 litres of stuff, an amount some cars can handle only by giving up all their rear seats.

Much of the cabin is well-built and plush (I only wish my own skin were as soft and supple as the leather upholstery), but there are flashes of cheap plastic here and there. The rear air-con vents and ceiling lights, for example, could have come from a Nissan Navarra, and the locally-fitted GPS navigation software feels pretty low-rent.

Still, you could think of the QX80 as a cut-price Range Rover, with much of the refinement (but little of the sophistication), more space inside and possibly a greater presence on the road, all for around three-quarters the price.

But if you’re not doing the driving, then the Infiniti doesn’t really offer much that you couldn’t get from, say, a Toyota Alphard or Vellfire.

Our advice? Consider one if you plan on doing the driving yourself, because a huge part of the QX80’s appeal is how its size and height endow you with a sense of god-like majesty. If nothing else, what man wouldn’t want to know what it’s like to tame a whale?

infiniti qx80 singapore price

NEED TO KNOW Infiniti QX80
Engine                      5,552cc, 32-valve, V8,
Power                       400bhp at 5800rpm
Torque                      560Nm at 4000rpm
Gearbox                    7-speed automatic
Top Speed                 210km/h
0-100km/h                7.6 seconds
Fuel efficiency           14.8L/100km
CO2                         350g/km
Price                        $389,800 with COE
Availability                Now


5-door 7 seat infiniti petrol qx80 SUV

About the Author

Leow Ju Len

CarBuyer Singapore's original originator, Ju-Len in person is exactly how he is on the written word and behind the wheel. Meaning that he darts all over the place and just when you thought he's lost the plot, you realise that it's just you not keeping up with his incredible rate of speed and thought.

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