In the realm of SUVs or Sports Utility Vehicles, there are some brands that have taken the concept of the SUV to a whole different level. To not put such a fine point on it, they’ve taken the ‘utility’ out of the equation and pretty much hurled it out the window.
One of the first carmakers to do so was BMW. Not only did they transform the basis of the SUV market, they went ahead and reclassified it. BMWs SUVs are called ‘SAVs’, or Sports Activity Vehicles. As told to me during the launch of the (then) new X5 by a not too amused German guy who looked about the size of a barn, only bigger, “There’s nothing utilitarian about our vehicles!” he bellowed. Per chance to end up a crimson stain on the floor, I decided not to argue.
Perhaps one of the best examples of an SUV that’s taken on a whole new meaning is the Range Rover. It’s an amazing vehicle. It’s absolutely loaded with the kind of 4×4 kit that bona-fide 4×4 fanatics have fantasies about. Seriously, I have seen Rangies traverse places that one wouldn’t be able to even stand on, much less drive through.
I’ve said this before, you could air-drop a Rangie into the middle of the Amazon with a skilled 4×4 driver at the wheel, and chances are it’d be waiting at the hotel for you before your chopper got there. Right, so that’s a bit of a stretch, but you get with I mean. Porsche, VW and Audi are hip to it too, producing upmarket SUVs that no one in their right mind would ever take off-road.
It’s one of the greatest paradoxes of the motoring world actually, these high-end SUVs (the BMWs included) are seriously amazing vehicles to drive off-road, and as aforementioned, loaded to the seam-welds with the some pretty serious 4×4 off-road equipment, but therein lies the problem. All this kit ain’t cheap and at the end of the day – or rather assembly line – the eventual on-the-road cost of these amazing SUVs transcend the ‘are you kidding me?’ tag.
And thus, I’d venture to say that 99.9% of anyone signing the dotted line and parting with seven figures worth of cash would sooner clean the restrooms at Puduraya bus station with his tongue, than take any of these SUVs into the wilderness. They’re more than capable though, and maybe that’s what matters.
The Infiniti FX37 is yet another perfect example of this. It’s a remarkable SUV from the luxury arm of Nissan. And when I say ‘luxury’, I’m not kidding. Quilted full-leather air-conditioned seats, tasteful real wood inserts, suppressed NVH levels that border on the ridiculous (you can’t hear a thing on the outside once the doors are closed), and of course that infamous clock. Why infamous? It’s because when Infiniti first made way into the USA, they developed a series of TV commercials with Jonathan Pryce, and one of those TVCs just focussed on the clock. I’m not making this up, I saw the commercial myself.
The very upmarket looking analogue clock (digital is so yesterday) sits right in the centre of the dashboard and that’s because in that location, everyone in the car can see it, so no one needs to ask the time. Of course the underlying message or voice-over of the TVC was something along the lines of ‘if Infiniti gave this much thought to just the clock, imagine what they’re done with the rest of the car”. Pretty smart eh?
Powered by an all-alloy, petrol-driven V6-cyl, DOHC, 24-valve, 3.7-litre engine with variable-valve timing (VVEL), that produces 320bhp and 360Nm of torque, the FX37 is never wanting in terms of power. But you won’t feel it thanks to the abovementioned suppressed NVH levels. The FX37 simple saunters away very rapidly, leaving just about everything else in its wake. And I do mean ‘wake’, because this is one very large SUV. Pictures belie its sheer size, as do the sculpted lines of the overall design.
It’s a very svelte looking SUV, one of the sportiest looking by far, although that’s a very subjective area. Let’s put it this way; if a Murano were to look any sportier, it’d look like the FX37. Adding to the sporty nature of the FX37, which seems to defy the laws of physics, its top speed is 235kmh, and it’ll get to 100kmh from a standstill in a mind-numbing 6.8 seconds. Driven more sedately, it’ll return a respectable 9.9km/L (combined cycle).
A seven-speed automatic transmission takes care of all shifting requirements, but should the driver feel a tad frisky, manual gear changes are possible via ‘paddles’ located at the steering wheel, or by flicking the gearshift lever. I found it best to just leave it in ‘D’ because the FX37s transmission has ASC or Adaptive Shift Control which recognises the driving style of the driver (read: responsible or rambunctious) and adapts to it.
An intelligent AWD or All-Wheel Drive system constantly monitors the terrain being driven on and continuously adapts the power going to the wheels given the levels of traction available on each wheel. In normal conditions 100% of the power is transferred to the rear wheels, but should those being to slip, AWD can transfer up to 50% of the engine’s power to the front wheels. As expected, in addition to an array of airbags, the FX37 also has traction control, stability control, ABS, EBD, as well as a Lane-Departure warning system that alerts the driver if the car is ‘straying’.
All in all, it’s really hard to not like the Infiniti FX37. It’s an SUV yes, but it also handles and has the performance of something a lot sportier. While no one in their right mind is ever going to take it off-road, that’s hardly the point here. The FX37, priced at RM435,000, offers a lot of bang for your buck. If you have no qualms about an asphalt-jungle only SUV and want something a bit different from the ubiquitous X5, Q7, Cayenne, Rangie, etc. the FX37 should definitely be on your possible list. It’s a worthy consideration.
Specs that matter:
Engine All-alloy V6-cyl, 24-valve, DOHC, VVTL, CVTCS, 3696cc
Transmission 7-speed auto with ASC
Max power 320bhp @ 7000rpm
Max torque 360Nm @ 5200rpm
Acceleration 0-100kmh: 6.8sec
Top speed 235kmh