First Drive: 2003 Infiniti FX45 –

11 Jan 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on First Drive: 2003 Infiniti FX45 –
Infiniti FX45

February 5, 2003

Los Angeles, California #8211; It must be something in the air. Whatever it is about the entertainment business that drives every waitress or waiter to be an aspiring actor #8211; that has otherwise-normal human beings on constant lookout for celebrity faces #8211; that has even the working poor lusting after a hot car and a set of big chrome wheels for their next rap video #8211; it#8217;s endemic

to Los Angeles, and I caught the bug bad when I hit the ground.

Okay, so maybe it was something about the temperature, what with twenty-degrees-C being #8220;cold#8221; enough for the locals to put hardtops on their convertibles, but which had me breezing around town in an Infiniti SUV with its windows and sunroof wide open. Here suddenly I was remembering that sitting on my laptop#8217;s hard drive was my very own Hollywood dream, a 129-page high-concept movie script: a romantic comedy that isn#8217;t actually very funny. There it was, burning a hole through my iBook#8217;s case, willing me to the nearest Kinko#8217;s to make a copy, begging to be shopped around town in at least a perfunctory manner during the two-day press preview.

Fine then, because what better way to test the mettle of Infiniti#8217;s new FX45 than in the environment in which it is likely to be most used #8211; Californian urban sprawl, winding canyon roads, cell phone glued to driver#8217;s ear #8211; and what better vehicle than the hottest SUV on the market as a way to potentially open a couple of doors, get people talking to me before they realized just what a fraud I was. #8220;You may have read my columns in Autos,#8221; I would tell the guards at the gates.

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See, in L.A. star power has as much to do with cars as it does real people, and judging from an evening and a day with the FX45, it#8217;s very much the #8216;it#8217; car of the moment, sort of the automotive equivalent of, oh, Ben Affleck with Vin Diesel#8217;s gravelly voice. And no wonder: just check out those lines #8211; the aggressive, bluff nose with its slanted eyes, the tensely arched roofline, the big-bore exhaust pipes and the massive twenty-inch tires #8211; and no, they#8217;re not optional.

Infiniti FX45

It was not, however, with the security guard at the Paramount lot. #8220;Who are you?#8221; the old guy asked again before waving me back out onto the suburban back roads behind the big Hollywood sign. #8220;No, I won#8217;t pass your script along to someone who matters.#8221; Across town at Universal the response was even more chilled: just a glare and a pointed finger to get the hell out of the lot, please.

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Never mind then. With 315 horses underfoot, there were better things to do, anyway. The FX45 has the guts to back up its extreme looks. The 4.5-litre V8 is the same as in the Q45, retuned for more low-end torque.

It#8217;s hooked to a swift-shifting five-speed automatic that powers all four wheels (in steady-state driving it#8217;s almost completely rear-drive, but the split can go to 50/50 during acceleration). Brakes are predictably huge, and there#8217;s also a full array of active-safety systems, including ABS with electronic force distribution, brake assist (which applies full stopping power in a panic stop), and an aggressively-calibrated Vehicle Dynamics Control system.

Among SUVs I#8217;ve driven, only the $94,000 BMW X5 4.6iS comes close to this level of roadholding and general driver involvement. There#8217;s plenty of feedback about the road surface coming up through the steering and the seats, and the brakes have a firm, confident feel. The ride is unabashedly sporty, too #8211; maybe too sporty, as it felt stiff on billiard-smooth California roads, the steamroller tires bumping and bashing over every bump.

Infiniti FX45
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