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This new Infiniti QX50 crossover provides a snapshot of the current condition of the UK car market and also shows how far Nissan's luxury arm has come.
Not so long ago, the idea of a petrol-engined, premium-badged crossover, aiming at the business car market would have been almost laughable. Now though, UK drivers don't seem to be able to buy crossovers at a fast enough rate and diesel sales are falling rapidly. So is this perfect timing for this QX50's arrival?
It would certainly seem so. While Infiniti might still be a minor player in the UK car market, it still saw sales here grow by 21% last year, making this Infiniti's biggest market in Europe, thanks in large part to the Q30 and QX30, as well as the arrival of the Q60 coupe. Just over half of those sales are to business buyers, underlining Infiniti's fleet appeal to user-choosers, something that it expects to be reflected in the sales of this QX50.
The crossover arrives into a particularly competitive area of the market, however. None of the segment's three newest arrivals, the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Volvo XC60, are exactly pushovers and all offer the choice of both petrol and diesel engines. The Volvo even includes the T8 plug-in hybrid in its range as, of course, does the Lexus NX.
The bad news for Infiniti is that this QX50 will only be available with a single engine, a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol with 268hp, albeit with the firm's latest variable compression technology and a single CVT automatic gearbox. Infiniti claims that means petrol performance but with diesel fuel economy and emissions.
It certainly has plenty of speed with a 0-62mph time of 6.3 seconds and a 143mph top speed. Official economy and emissions figures have yet to be announced, but our estimates are that it will be around 35mpg and 187g/km, giving it a 37% BIK rate. There will also be two and four-wheel drive models available, with the former sure to have a slight economy and emissions advantage on those figures.
On the road, the QX50 proves to be surprisingly refined. The engine and gearbox are well matched during typical everyday driving or when cruising. Refinement levels are good, with little wind or road noise entering the cabin and a good ride quality - even on 20in wheels.
Where the Infiniti's driving experience isn't quite so impressive though, is when you turn onto twistier, more challenging roads and you want to press on. The steering gives little feel of what the car is doing beneath you, while the CVT automatic can be rather too vocal when driven hard.
It's certainly not without merit when it comes to comfort levels, but other rivals like the BMW X3 or Mercedes GLC are better cars for driving.
At least the QX50 can win back some favour inside. This is undoubtedly the best interior we've seen from Infiniti. Everything from the materials used, to the fit and finish, and the build quality are first rate. There are two touchscreens, a lower one for the car systems and an upper one for the sat-nav. There are also heated and cooled electric seats, a head-up display and panoramic sunroof along with an electric tailgate. A 17-speaker Bose stereo is an option.
The QX50 will also feature Infiniti's new Propilot Assist system that incorporates intelligent cruise control and automatic braking, as well as adaptive steering and lane assist. It works well, is easy to operate and is about as close to autonomous driving as it's possible to currently get, although you do need to keep your hands on the steering wheel.
"We think this is probably one of the best Infinitis we've driven."
The cabin is accommodating. There's a good amount of rear head and legroom for adults, and the rear bench can slide to extend that further or to add to the already substantial boot.
Despite the fact that it's not the most involving car to drive in the class, there's a lot to like about the new Infiniti QX50. However, that lack of a wider engine range, beyond the lone, and admittedly very clever, petrol, is sure to restrict its appeal. That's a great shame, as we think this is probably one of the best Infinitis we've driven and it definitely deserves more recognition and buyers than it's likely to get.
P11D £38,950 (est.)
On sale January 2018
Fuel consumption 35mpg
CO2 (BIK band)187g/km (37%) (est.)
BIK 20/40% a month £235/£470 (est.)
Boot space 895/1,699 litres
Engine size/power 1,997cc/ 268hp
Two and four-wheel drive, good quality and materials, interior space.
No diesel or hybrid engines, lack of steering feel, CVT gearbox.