August 2009
Infiniti FX35

FX35, da kann ich nur sagen: “Must be driven to be appreciated”.

Lange haben wir hin und her überlegt, und sind doch am Ende immer wieder beim FX angelangt.
Wir brauchten Ersatz für unseren dreizehn Jahre alten Bus (mit über 150k Meilen). Einen Campinganhänger wollen wir ziehen, es muss auch mal schnell gehen können, auch zuverlässiger bitte, auch nicht immer im Schnee stecken bleiben, und Design und Ausstattung sollen auch erfreuen - und das alles zu einem moderaten Preis.
Infiniti FX also, ein Japaner, wie man so schön sagt.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
The Infiniti FX is a mid-size luxury car produced by the Nissan-owned Infiniti luxury vehicle brand since the 2003 model year. The FX replaced the QX4 as Infiniti's mid-size luxury-type SUV, despite being larger than its predecessor. It was released at the same time as its competitors, the Porsche Cayenne and Volvo XC90. It shares the same FM platform as the rear-wheel drive Nissan 350Z, whereas the similarly sized Nissan Murano is based on the front-wheel drive Nissan Altima platform.
In creating the FX, its designers sought what they called a "cool fusion" – the blending of a substantial, SUV lower body with the sleek, elegant upper body more reminiscent of a classic sports car or sports GT. In addition, they sought to combine sports-car performance with SUV functionality.

Um es kurz zu machen, der FX ist eine Wucht.

Er liegt satt auf der Strasse, und jedes Antippen des Gaspedals wird sofort in Vortrieb umgesetzt. Leider ist er etwas auf 'output' gezüchtet, das Schaltsaugrohr hätte etwas mehr auf höheres Drehmoment ausgelegt werden sollen.
All FX models utilize a modified version of the advanced FM (Front Mid-ship) platform, which positions the engine behind the front axle. This results in an optimized front-to-rear weight balance of 53:47 (V6 AWD), which factors in weight transfer during key handling maneuvers, such as entering and exiting corners. Infinitihelp.com
On the road the FX35 is a treat. The ride is athletically firm but far from punishing. Handling was confidence inspiring to say the least. The steering is communicative, nicely weighted and deadly accurate. The FX clings to the road with Velcro-like tenacity. By Jason Fogelson, About.com

The FX exterior features a wide, aggressive stance with a long, sleek hood, and a sleek roof. The short front and rear overhangs provide SUV-level approach and departure angles, while also helping accentuate the long wheelbase.
Helping enhance ground clearance and all-terrain drivability are the FX35's 8.0JJx18 7-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels and 265/60R18 all-season tires.
The wide yet narrow headlights and taillights give the FX an "in-motion" look. The exterior design also includes standard fog lights, xenon headlights and large, split dual tailpipes with chrome finishers.

Der Volvo bietet zweifelsfrei mehr Kofferraum, aber mit umgelegten Sitzen könnte man auch mal eine Nacht im Nationalpark verbringen.
Apropos Sitze, toll ausgeformt, man ist wunderbar eingepasst, das Leder fällt allerdings etwas empfindlich aus. Überhaupt habe ich noch nie eine so passgenau um die Insassen geformte Kabine erlebt.
Ein überraschend kleines, aber super handliches Lenkrad.
(c)eVox Productions (c)eVox Productions (c)Infiniti Media
Insgesamt ist die Inneneinrichtung also voll nach meinem Geschmack, alles wieder sehr geradeaus.
Die Instrumenteneinheit schwenkt mit den Lenkrad mit, Musik pumpt aus einem integrierten Subwoofer, eingebautes GPS haben wir allerdings nicht.
(c)eVox Productions (c)eVox Productions (c)eVox Productions

Once you start the magnificent 3.5 liter V6, the ergonomic shortcomings quickly melt away. The cabin is instantly filled with an engine note that is purely symphonic. Throw it in drive and step on the gas and the FX is propelled forward by 275 horses that seem available at any point in the rev range. Infinitihelp.com
Mated with a five-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode, that spells F-U-N. Add in 4-wheel independent suspension, full-time all-wheel drive, four wheel anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution, traction control, a low center of gravity and a wide wheel base, and you've got a Crossover vehicle that drives like it's glued to the road. There's no body roll to speak of, and with all that horsepower, the FX45 just begs to be tossed through the curves. Handling is positively confidence-inducing, and acceleration is like a mule kick, accompanied by sweet, throaty music from the exhaust note. The FX45 is a muscle car in Crossover clothing. By Jason Fogelson, About.com

Unterm Strich: Ordentlich aufgetragen. Eine richtige Zugmaschine und geländetauglich ist der FX nicht, aber momentan für uns das beste Zusammenspiel für Strasse, Feldweg, und Anhänger.

(c)Infiniti Media

Technische Daten (c) US Cars24.de :

Motor: 3.5 Liter V-6 24V; DOHC-VVA
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
The 3.5 L (3498 cc) VQ35DE is used in many modern Nissan vehicles. Bore and stroke are 95.5 mm and 81.4 mm. It uses a similar block design to the VQ30DE, but adds variable valve timing. The VQ series engine was honored by Ward's 10 Best Engines list every year from the list's inception until 2009. It features forged steel connecting rods, a microfinished one-piece cast camshaft, and Nissan's nylon intake manifold technology. It has low-friction molybdenum-coated pistons and the intake is a high-flow tuned induction system.
Antrieb: Allrad-Antriebssystem
The Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All Electronic Torque Split all-wheel drive system uses an advanced torque split control strategy that automatically transfers optimum torque to the wheels according to road and driving conditions. It provides outstanding cornering capability due to optimum torque distribution for front and rear (50:50 up to 0:100). The system also provides high starting traction performance and smooth, stable acceleration, especially in snow-covered or off-road situations with the 50:50 torque split at standing start.
Getriebe: Elektronisches 5-Gang Automatik-Getriebe mit Overdrive und Manual Shiftmode
Leistung: 280 PS bei 6200 U/min
Drehmoment: 366 Nm bei 4800 U/ min
Beschleunigung: 0 - 100 km/h: 6,8 sec.
Leergewicht: 1917 kg
Länge: 4803 mm
Breite: 1925 mm
Höhe: 1674 mm
Radstand: 2850 mm
Wendekreis: 11,8 m
Spurbreite vorne: 1593 mm
Spurbreite hinten: 1641 mm
Tankinhalt: 90 Liter
Verbrauch Autobahn: 10,0 Liter/100km
Verbrauch Stadt: 14,3 Liter/100km
Gepäckraumvolumen: 776 Liter/ 1710 Liter

(c)Infiniti Media

Und hier ist noch ein guter Beitrag, auch aus dem Netz, ziemlich stimmig.
From Epinions.com, mkaresh's Full Review, Written Jun 08 '03 (Updated Jun 22 '05):
Back in 1989, fresh out of college, I spent a number of months touring the country. Driving the Toyota Celica All-Trac Turbo I then owned along the unpaved roads that crisscross the Southwest, I envisioned a new sort of vehicle, one that combined a powerful engine and agile chassis with the ability to travel such roads in comfort.
The Celica was 90 percent of the way there. Somewhat dead on pavement owing to the balanced traction of all-wheel-drive, it came alive on less grippy surfaces. On snow or off the pavement the chassis could suddenly be steered with the throttle. The road up Pikes Peak was a blast. However, the Celica was a bit firmly sprung and lacking in ground clearance for travel along unpaved roads. Although a rock never took out anything vital, my journeys through the Southwest would have been more comfortable and less stressful in a vehicle with greater suspension compliance and ground clearance. I didn’t want an SUV, mind you. I wanted to hurry along these roads at the wheel of an agile, sharp-handling machine. I wanted a cross between an SUV and a sports car.
Well, fourteen years later we might finally be seeing such vehicles. Acura and then BMW claimed to offer such crossovers with the MDX and X5, but they’re not quite what I mean. The MDX drives too much like a minivan. It’s handling is hardly exhilarating, despite the claims of Acura’s marketers. The X5 comes closer, but it still feels quite trucky with its upright windshield, high driving position, and inescapable sense of mass.
Newer vehicles come closer still. Porsche recently introduced its first non-sports car, the controversial Cayenne. No doubt it’s very capable. Sadly, it’s also inexplicably hideous and priced, well, like a Porsche. Nissan for 2003 went one better, introducing not one but two driver-oriented SUVs, the Nissan Murano and Infiniti FX.
These might be expected to be much the same vehicle, as Nissans and Infinitis have been in the past. They are not. Despite their very similar positioning as SUVs that favor sport and highly distinctive styling over utility, the Murano and FX are very different vehicles. Like nearly all car-based SUVs, the Murano is based on a front-wheel-drive family sedan, in this case the Altima. The Infiniti FX breaks with this pattern (as does the BMW X5) by taking a rear-wheel-drive platform as its basis. Sharing a platform with the Nissan 350Z and Infiniti G35, the FX can legitimately claim a sports car connection. Just with additional utility and all-surface traction. Even more than the Porsche SUV, which possesses some true off-road capability, the FX was designed primarily for on-road thrills. To find out if this was the sort of vehicle I envisioned years ago, I took one for a test drive.

Models and Option Packages
The FX comes in two versions, the FX35 and the FX45, the primary difference being the engine. The FX35 shares a 3.5-liter V6 with half of Nissan’s product line. In this application it produces 280 horsepower. The FX45 shares a 4.5-liter V8 with Infiniti’s pair of large sedans. In this application it produces a bit fewer horses, at 315. Wheels are the other major difference. Huge, 20-inch wheels that dominate the appearance of the vehicle are standard on the FX45, but only optional on the FX35. ‘Small” 18s are standard on the cheaper model. Every review I’ve read suggests that the FX45 is cursed with extremely poor ride quality, so I opted to test drive an FX35 with the smaller wheels and less firm suspension. A harsh ride on unpaved roads was one of the things I disliked about the Celica, after all. Alas, driving an FX with the smaller wheels is not easy. Perhaps this is to more clearly separate the FX from the Murano, which utilizes the same basic V6 (though with “only” 245 horsepower). Even the FX35 is considerably more expensive than the Murano, and the chassis are totally different, yet the marketers cannot be blamed for thinking that further differentiation might be a good thing. That, and its easier to start people high and shift them down if necessary than vice-versa.

As Infiniti points out at every available opportunity, the FX looks like no other vehicle. SUVs tend to be angular to reinforce their rugged image. The FX, in contrast, possesses curves on the order of the Audi TT. Or Porsche 911. Frankly, the FX looks more like a Porsche than Porsche’s own SUV. Easier on the eyes, too. Despite its curvaceousness, the FX still looks tough and rugged. Credit generous proportions and a huge grille. With huge wheels and an imposing front end, the FX does not have to rely on angular styling to get its message across. Instead, it can manage to look both sporty and unstoppable.
The FX’s sporty character is enhanced by a relatively low height. At 65 inches, like Chrysler’s Pacifica and Lexus’s RX 330 it stands two to six inches lower than other midsize SUVs. (But still about ten inches taller than a typical sedan.)
While I admire Infiniti’s audacity, and even find myself strangely drawn to the styling of the FX, I can’t quite find it attractive. I enjoy how the FX makes me think about the many stylistic conventions it violates, yet cannot become comfortable with it. Much like an English bulldog, and likely for the same reason, the FX combines an imposing front end (courtesy of Nissan’s cab rearward FM platform) with a diminutive rear. Once past the passenger compartment the body quickly arcs down to an abrupt end. The resulting proportions appear silly, yet silly in a way that commands respect, as the tiny rear makes the front appear even more imposing. In those classic cartoons no one makes fun of the bulldog to his face. An additional benefit: unlike the Chrysler Pacifica, no one will accuse the FX of being a station wagon. A hatchback perhaps.
The 20-inch wheels on most FXs are so large as to appear cartoonish, yet the vehicle has been designed around them to such an extent that the 18s—not long ago larger than the largest wheels available on an SUV—appear a bit too small. Maybe 19s would strike a happy medium?
Between the huge wheels, the imposing hood, and the bobbed tail the FX above all else demands attention.
Inside there is less craziness. This makes sense. Even people attracted to bizarre styling find it difficult to get comfortable in. Hence, much like ultra-modern homes, vehicles with bizarre exteriors often have more conventional interiors. The FX interior resembles that in the Infiniti G35 sedan, especially the wide, flat, faux metal center console and the front seats with their controls on the inner thigh bolster. The instrument panel and doors have simple forms styled to suggest a massive structure. If you want a bizarre interior to go with your bizarre exterior, check out the Murano.
The secondary controls are about average in ease of use for a luxury vehicles, which is to say they are laid out better than in other recent Infiniti designs yet still are not that easy to use. The HVAC and stereo are operated with a couple dozen flat black buttons that differ little in appearance or feel. At least two conventional knobs are retained for the primary stereo functions. The far controls are a bit of a stretch. As in more and more luxury vehicles, all readouts are handled on a flat panel display even without the navigation system option.
The materials thankfully are a cut above those in the G35. They are still not as rich as those in the BMW X5 or Lexus RX.

The driving position it about halfway between that of a car and a conventional SUV. I don’t have the actual figures, but the drivers seat feels even lower relative to a BMW X5 than the difference in the vehicles’ heights would suggest. As a result, visibility forward is good but not quite SUV expansive. In fact, the relationship between the driver’s sightline and the hood is much like that in a car, with the major difference being that both the driver and the hood are roughly half a foot higher off the ground than in a car.
Visibility isn’t so good to the rear. The rear quarter windows are even smaller than they look from the outside. All in all, there is a lot of structure hampering the view rearward. But I’ve been told you’re supposed to use the mirrors rather than looking over your shoulder to change lanes anyway. (Just be sure to properly adjust your mirrors first.) When backing up...I guess that’s what the rear view camera option is for.
The interior styling, with its expansive gently curved surfaces, suggests a massive structure. Think large exterior with a cozy interior. Think fortress on wheels. Quite likely both companies learned from market research that this is what many people want.
Based on the FX’s extensive standard safety equipment, the appearance of safety is likely not deceiving. This equipment includes ABS, brake assist, stability control, active headrests, and two seats of side airbags. Pretty much everything you’ll find on brands known for safety.
Despite the initial impression of coziness, there is plenty of room for a pair of adults front and rear. Even with the sunroof the ceiling sweeps far overhead. In the rear legroom is generous. The front seats, like those in the G35, are well bolstered for good lateral support in aggressive driving. They are adequately comfortable, but the emphasis is clearly on sport over luxury. As in most vehicles, the rear cushion could be a bit higher for optimal thigh support. The rear seat reclines about 1/3 of the way to flat for good napping on trips. Narrow rear door openings slightly complicate access to the rear seat.
At 189 inches the FX is as long as an Acura MDX or Volvo XC90, but owing to its sporty styling lacks the space for a third row. If you want a sharp handling SUV with a third row, the Acura MDX and Volvo XC90 are the only choices right now. The Acura's handling isn't very sporty. I have not yet driven the Volvo, but it's too tall to handle especially well.
As with the X5, cargo space falls short of the SUV norm. But not to as large an extent, courtesy of the FX's half a foot of additional length. With the rear seats up cargo volume is 27 cubic feet—and looks like less than that. While significantly better than the X5’s 16 and the Cayenne’s 19, it pales in comparison to the Lexus RX 300’s 32, much less a Ford Explorer’s 47. With the rear seats folded, cargo room in a sunroof-equipped FX jumps to 60 cubic feet. Although this is again more than the BMW (54), and it ties the Porsche, it is much less than many competitors such as the Acura MDX (82), Lexus RX (85), and Volvo XC90 (93). Such is the price of those curves, that long hood, those huge wheels, and that relatively low roof. The FX is roughly the same length as the others, it is simply packaged much less efficiently for styling’s sake.
The rear seats fold easily. A lever on each sidewall of cargo area releases each seatback section, which then automatically folds forward without further effort. There is no need to remove headrests or tilt the seat cushion forward first. The only issue with this system is that when the seatbacks are folded back up they return to a fully upright position. To be comfortable rear passengers must then recline them. A minor nuisance.

On the Road
At 4200 lbs., the FX35 is significantly lighter than the competition (save the Lexus) despite its massive appearance. An Acura MDX runs 4400 lbs., a BMW X5 4500, a Chrysler Pacifica 4700, and a Porsche Cayenne 5000. Hence even with the V6 acceleration is more than adequate (if not neck snapping). As Nissan’s V6 has grown its voice has grown less sweet, but its throatiness in 3.5 liter form befits an SUV. When pushed the FX35’s engine sounds strong rather than strained. During my test drive I had the occasion to floor the throttle a few times, but never found myself wishing for more power.
Those in search of awe-inspiring, slam-you-in-the-small-of-the-back power are more likely to find it in the V8. The two engines do not differ so much at high RPM—peak power differs by only 35 horses. In the midrange, however, the V8 possesses a larger advantage, producing nearly 60 ft-lbs. more torque at a peak 800 RPM lower. I do not know if gearing differs between the two engines. If the V8’s gearing is taller to aid fuel economy its performance margin will shrink.
On the subject of fuel economy, I would not expect much. The V6 might not sound or feel strained, but it is nonetheless working fairly hard to move the FX. At 70 it is turning 3000 RPM, which is a bit fast for decent fuel economy with an engine of this size. As I’ve already mentioned, I also found myself dipping pretty aggressively into the throttle. Owners of the Nissan Murano have been reporting fuel economy around 18 miles per gallon, and the Murano is a slighly lighter vehicle with a much more efficient CVT transmission. I’d expect mid-teens in typical suburban driving in the FX35, and maybe even low teens in the FX45.
A five-speed automatic is the only transmission available with either engine. This transmission can be manually shifted, but even though it reacted to such input fairly quickly I continue to find such transmissions no substitute for a true manual. As the transmission generally found a good ratio all on its own I did not use this feature much. In aggressive driving along a twisty road it was of some benefit.
If nothing else, the FX should be about exceptional handling for an SUV. It does not disappoint. The FX is easily the sportiest handling SUV I’ve driven. This impression begins with the steering wheel. An instrument cluster that adjusts vertically with the wheels allows the diameter of the latter to be exceptionally small. I’ve only encountered such a small wheel in sports cars in the past. Further connoting sporty handling, the wheel’s rim is thick.
This wheel accurately conveys the character of the FX’s handling. The small diameter suggests responsiveness. The thick rim suggests a certain heaviness and stability. A BMW X5 handles more nimbly—it feels “light on its feet” while the FX feels planted--but the BMW also feels much more trucky owing to a more upright windshield and higher seating position. Although the FX feels less agile, it corners with less lean and more grip (and the X5 already does much better than most other SUVs in these areas). The 265mm wide tires deserve credit, as does the stiff suspension. (The base suspension is stiff, the sport-tuned suspension is ultra-stiff. Pressing down with all of my 170 pounds on the front fender of an FX45 I could not get the vehicle to budge.) Unlike in many SUVs, there is no slop to be felt in the chassis.
The steering system provides a good but not great level of feedback. Unlike in the BMW, I felt this was a vehicle to be steered with the whole hand rather than sensitive fingertips. Steering effort is moderately high, which I personally like. Overall, I felt as if I was driving a jacked up, bulked up sport sedan. Which is pretty much what the FX is. It might not be a sports car, but it is fun to drive in a way few SUVs are. Still not my personal cup of tea, but for those who must have an SUV this is arguably the best handler in the bunch.
Sadly, the laws of physics cannot be denied. Even with the base tires and suspension the ride is busy over all but the smoothest pavement. The X5 suffers similarly. To get a relatively tall vehicle to corner with minimal lean, the suspension must be stiffer even than that of the typical sport sedan. If the FX45 rides significantly worse than the FX35, I can see what the fuss is about, as the FX35’s ride quality is marginal. On those Southwestern roads I mentioned in the introduction the FX would probably not have ridden any better than my Celica. It probably would have sounded less out of its element, though. The FX’s ride might be busy over rough pavement, but it did not at all sound as if the vehicle was being beaten to death. The passengers, maybe, but not the vehicle. If you live in an area where the roads are smooth (i.e. not my native Michigan) then the ride quality will be less of an issue.
Given a fairly smooth road surface, noise levels approximate those of a middling near-luxury sedan. Road noise is most prominent, even with the 18-inch tires. The engine becomes moderately vocal when pushed, not a bad thing in a driver-oriented vehicle. As long as the road as smooth, the FX should be a comfortable long-distance cruiser.

Final Words
The Infiniti FX blends a sport sedan with an SUV to a much greater extent than any previous vehicle. Utility is somewhat reduced by the sport-oriented styling and packaging, but not as much as with the BMW X5. Outstanding handling is paid for with a busy ride. This ride quality keeps the FX from being the all-road high-performance vehicle I envisioned back in the late 1980s. So that vehicle has yet to be created. As an SUV restricted to the pavement, preferably smooth pavement, the FX is an intriguing proposition. I’d personally still prefer a high-performance station wagon, but for those seeking the most fun-to-drive SUV this is likely it for now. If you find the distinctive styling appealing that’s an added bonus.

(c)Jason Fogelson

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