• Te Infniti QX80 delivers the goods with the precision andcraftsmanship of a fne watch – a really big watch

    The QX80 is the largest SUV in the Infniti line up. It is just as imposing in person as it is in any of the photographs. Measuring in at over 5 metres long and 2 metres wide you defnitely feel in command when you climb into the driver’s seat.

    It seemed bigger, stronger, and more brazen than some of the competing full size luxury SUVs on the road, but no matter how posh you feel inside the seriousness of the size and hulking presence demands respect when on the road. How do I know? Because after four days behind the wheel, I never got cut off – not once.

    SPACE AND COMFORT

    Ignoring all my weekend passengers' identical comment of “Do I need a ladder?” once settled into the elevated cockpit, the level of luxury is executed in a way that makes you feel relaxed and comfortable. I can see how many musicians and movie stars opt for this size and shape of vehicle – it’s amazingly spacious and entirely covered with luscious leather.

    Every seat is plush and coddles you like a living room recliner. The wood trim adds to the ambience and helps to tie in a feeling of an old-world men’s lounge.

    Add in the top-of-the-line Bose sound system and entertainment options for your passengers and everybody inside the cabin will have an easy escape from the brutality of the outside world.

    Everybody travels in revitalising ease and comfort. Passengers in the second row of seats get the same ‘captain’s style’ as the front with over a metre of legroom so everybody has the frst class feel of travel. Almost forgotten in the very rear, the third row comes with 730 millimetres of legroom – that still makes the premium-economy category. However, if you do need the cargo space, the QX80 offers a maximum of 95 cubic feet with both rows folded down.

    KING OF THE ROAD

    Out on the road you do feel the power and the performance. The V8 takes command even in the lower gears and in a world where nearly every car manufacturer is steering away (pardon the pun) from the large engines that made places like Detroit famous, it’s nice to know that the QX80 is somewhat ‘old-school’ when it comes to the raw, low-down, touring and towing power.

    The 5.6 litre, V8 powerhouse puts out a visceral 400 horsepower that allows you to have up to 2,000 kilograms of towing capacity. Simply engage the ‘tow mode’ on the drive selector and the engine draws more power and adjusts the transmission for shifts that accommodate your heavy load.

    Despite the size, the QX80 also corners with an element of comfort. The engineers at Infniti must have known this would be an issue. To complement the power and size, the Hydraulic Body Motion Control system monitors the forces of cornering when it comes to body lean and vertical motion as you go over bumps or potholes. Applying pressure to either the outer or inner suspension, it helps to keep the cabin more level at all times, which improves handling and performance.

    STANDING TALL

    From my exalted position compared to other drivers, I must admit that there is an unprecedented view of the road. And yes, I literally spent the entire weekend looking down at all others, apart from the occasional city bus that stopped at the lights next to me.

    Getting the QX80 off-road a bit, I found that the superior ground clearance was exactly what I needed for a bit of gatchtrack driving, but I would never take it for a full-on dune bashing afternoon. In part because I fnd it a bit unnerving watching the gas gauge slowly gravitating towards the ‘E’ with the added prod of power needed to surf the dunes.

    I also found that parking in normal spaces was a bit of a challenge due to the width. Thankfully, there is an array of cameras that provide a 360-degree view to help you centre it in the lines allowing for maximum comfort for not only yourself, but for whomever parks next to you. Sometimes I wish every car came with this feature.

    Is this the SUV for me though? Nope. I’d still be more inclined for the smaller cross-over versions like the QX50 or QX60, but I can see the appeal to other demographics of the market.

    In a part of the world where the general mantra is in fact ‘bigger is better’ it’s not about being larger than life, it’s about being as large as the life you want.